Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Panel Urges Passenger Profiling

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Panel Urges Passenger Profiling

Article excerpt

To combat terrorism in the sky, President Bill Clinton's administration recommended Thursday that computer profiles be kept on airline passengers and that airports install advanced machines to sniff for bombs in luggage.

The administration said it would ask Congress for $300 million to buy the bomb detectors. The request was just one of several recommendations made by the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, set up July 25 by Clinton after the crash of a TWA 747 off Long Island on July 17. All 230 people aboard were killed.

But Vice President Al Gore and other panel members were quick to point out that the battle against terrorism is likely to continue, regardless of the new security measures being proposed. "We may never see an end to terrorism, but we sure are going to do our level best to combat it," said Gore, the panel's chairman. The proposal for the government to pay for the detectors, which cost more than $1 million apiece, broke a logjam. In recent years, airlines and airport officials have balked at paying for the equipment, arguing that the government should foot the bill. Gore's commission apparently agrees. "The initial purchase of these machines should be financed by the supplemental appropriation," Gore said, "because it is clear that the terrorist attacks . . . represent an attack on the United States of America. There is clearly a national interest here." Among the other key recommendations: * New security measures to screen mail and cargo carried aboard passenger aircraft. * Mandatory fingerprinting and criminal background checks of all airline staff members who have access to planes and baggage. * A requirement for a 100 percent match between passengers and luggage on an aircraft. * More bomb-sniffing dogs in airports. (* The following text appeared only in the THREE STAR edition *) * Increased use of FBI counterterrorism training at airports abroad where specific security threats have been documented. (* end of THREE STAR text *) So far, the bomb-sniffing machines have proved to be cumbersome - each machine processes 100 to 125 bags an hour. …

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