Foreign countries have been granting the United States permission to place security officers in their airports, reports The New York Times. The officers are able to detain passengers, carry weapons, and even pull passengers from flights.
The passengers are screened for harmful materials and must be cleared by customs and border officers to enter the United States when the plane lands.
According to the article, the program is an effort to combat attempts to blow up planes heading to the United States from foreign airports:
The thinking is simple: By placing officers in foreign countries and effectively pushing the United States border thousands of miles beyond the country’s shores, Americans have more control over screening and security. And it is far better to sort out who is on a flight before it takes off than after a catastrophe occurs.
There are 14 countries participating in programs that put U.S. security officers at foreign airports, according to the Times.
"It’s a really big deal — it would be like us saying you can have foreign law enforcement operating in a U.S. facility with all the privileges given to law enforcement, but we are going to do it on your territory and on our rules,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is quoted.
The program was expanded after an Al Qaeda operative attempted to detonate explosives on a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.
"After that news emerged, Ms. Napolitano said the new measures being put in place in foreign airports for flights to the United States would have stopped a terrorist from boarding a plane with such a bomb," the Times reports.
The programs cost about $115 million a year.
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