- The Washington Times - Monday, August 26, 2002

"Has anyone unknown to you asked you to carry an item on this flight?" "Have any of the items you are traveling with been out of your immediate control since the time you packed them?" Though well-intended, these familiar questions asked by law for the past 16 years of every airline passenger during check-in have become little more than rote-delivered, pro forma rituals that have little, if any, value as deterrents to terrorism. So it was good to learn that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) favors something potentially fruitful.
TSA chief James Loy said late last week that a review is under way of steps that can be taken to make flying less of a hassle and pre-flight screening more effective. In addition to proposed screening changes, passengers will also be allowed to carry beverages onto their flights provided they are in foam, plastic or paper containers that can be passed through metal detectors. Other changes have already been instituted, including ending the practice of asking passengers to sample food or drink they're carrying to ascertain whether it is flammable, explosive or otherwise dangerous. (This change came in the wake of an uproar over an incident at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, where a security guard demanded a nursing mother open and drink from bottles of her own breast milk she had been carrying for her infant.)
The changes being mulled by TSA appear to be all to the good. There's no reason why effective security and smooth travel need be mutually exclusive.

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