Travel Security Update May 2005.

Position:Traveler program

Homeland Security to test laser missile detection system. The Department of Homeland Security will soon use three commercial jetliners to test an infrared laser-based system designed to defend the planes against shoulder-fired missiles, the New York Times reports. If adopted, the new system would cost more than $10 billion to install on all commercial planes. Some experts question whether the project would be the most effective way to counter the threat of terrorism. May 31, 2005

Government to test Registered Traveler program in Orlando. The government will launch a test program this summer aimed at letting frequent travelers speed through security checkpoints, USA TODAY reports. It will test the program at Orlando International Airport, which on Wednesday will pick a vendor to sign up travelers and forward their names to the government.

May 31, 2005

Israel back on the travel map as warnings abate. Americans were advised for several years to avoid Israel due to the possibility of violence, but it's back on the map as a sought-after destination now that the U.S. has eased warnings against traveling there. Tour companies are responding to higher demand by offering more packages in the mid price range. May 27, 2005

Chertoff should work to change DHS culture. The Department of Homeland Security has not done enough to improve the country's security considering how much it has spent, the Washington Post's editorial board writes. Many reports by government agencies have documented problems within DHS. After he completes a departmental review, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff should try to change the department's culture and encourage workers to react to criticism. May 27, 2005

Airlines say no-fly list is sometimes incomplete. Some airlines say they do not always have access to the most recent version of the U.S. no-fly list, the Washington Post reports. Foreign flights bound for the U.S. must check their passenger list against the no-fly list before takeoff. Mistakes on the no-fly list have led to at least two unnecessary diversions. May 25, 2005

Chertoff hopes to work with Europe on release of security data. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff hopes to work with European leaders to find ways to improve airline passenger screening, Reuters reports. The Europeans are concerned that releasing air traveler information before takeoff could violate a passenger's privacy. The U.S. wants information on travelers released one hour before a plane departs.

May 24, 2005

Guitarist now a prominent counter terrorism consultant. Former Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff Baxter is a well-known counter terrorism expert, the Wall Street Journal reports. He does work for the Department of Defense and has consulting contracts with Northrop Grumman, Science Applications International and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. He specializes in helping defense firms and government officials understand how terrorists think and behave. May 24, 2005

Privacy advocates, security experts skeptical of X-ray machines. The Transportation Security Administration will test new security machines that use X-ray imaging technology at several airports this year, Joe Sharkey writes in the New York Times. The machines reveal a detailed body image that some privacy advocates say is intrusive. Some security experts say terrorists could easily thwart the technology. May 24, 2005

Long waits in security lines could return as more people travel. Airports have managed to shorten long waits in security lines, but some observers say the problem may return as more people travel this summer, USA Today reports. Air Transport Association security director Christopher Bidwell noted the long lines...

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