The Christmas Day close call aboard an international flight bound for Detroit made clear that U.S. and the world's airways remain vulnerable to terrorists.
We need to use all the means we have — with professionalism and good judgment — to counter the threat.
That means using both full body scans of passengers and agents trained to look for characteristics or behavior that fits a profile of potential terrorists.
Both methods have the potential for abuse. That potential can be minimized with strict rules having the force of law and high professional standards for those who protect the flying public and the security of the nation.
The Transportation Security Administration has been using the full body scans at selected airports around the United States for about two years. The imaging devices are "virtual strip searches," which reveal a good deal more of a person's body than privacy generally allows. But they are anonymous; those who look at the images are in a separate room from those guiding passengers through the devices at security.
The notion of a detailed look at our body images, even images that resemble a clinical X-ray in quality, makes many Americans uncomfortable. At the same time, some passengers have said they prefer the anonymity of the machines to the alternative, a pat-down search by a TSA staffer. Current policy allows a passenger pulled out for a search the choice of one or the other.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.