Aviation Security Features Prominently in 9-11 Commission Progress Report

By Matthew Harwood

On the sixth anniversary of the release of the 9-11 Commission Report, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today released another progress report on its efforts to meet many of  the report's recommendations made law in 2007 (.pdf).

Aviation security featured prominently in the progress report (.pdf) after the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack when a young Nigerian jihadist attempted to detonate explosive powders smuggled in his underwear. The plot revealed vulnerabilities in the terrorist watchlisting process as well as jihadists' ability to sneak explosives past airport screening technology and personnel.

“By working with our partners across the globe, we have achieved historic advances in international aviation security – including bolstering explosives detection, strengthening the vetting of passengers against terrorist watchlists, refining passenger screening techniques and deploying tens of thousands of trained aviation security personnel—that make air travel safer for everyone," Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

The progress report says DHS has fulfilled one of the key 9-11 Commission recommendations by taking over passenger vetting from U.S. airlines, accounting for 90 percent of all travel to, from, and within the United States . Under Secure Flight, "TSA, not the air carriers, vets passengers against government watchlists using passenger name, date of birth, and gender before a boarding pass is issued," DHS says. TSA expects to vet all passengers on international carriers by the end of the year.

The progress report also states that baggage deployed and invested in new layers of security, seen and unseen, inside airports to ensure passengers and their bacgage are safe to fly. The most controversial of these are full-body scanners,  otherwise known as Advanced Imaging Technology machines by DHS. Since the Christmas Day attack, DHS has rushed deployment of full body scanners into the nation's airports, with plans to deploy 1,000 by the end of next year.


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