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Enforcement Woes on First Day of New Screening Rules

01/05/2010 -Some international airports with flights bound for the United States admitted yesterday that they had not implemented new passenger screening rules announced on Sunday in reaction to the botched terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas,reports The Associated Press.

The"enhanced screening" measures that went into effect on Monday dictate that anyone holding a passport from, departing from, or traveling through 14 countries identified by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be met by pat-down searches, inspection of carry-on baggage, and where available, explosives-detection technology and full body scanning machines. All other international travelers will be screened by these stronger measures on a random basis.

While enforcement of the rules occurred notably at airports in The Netherlands and Nigeria, the two countries 23-year-old alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab passed through airport security on his way to the United States, other countries have failed to implement the rules, reports the AP.

[A]t international airports in Lebanon, Syria and Libya, all on the list, there were no visible changes in screening. And several European governments, including Germany, France and Spain, said they were still studying the rules before tightening security any further than the steps they took after the failed Christmas attack.

''We will continue to work with our airline and international partners to ensure they meet both international and TSA security standards,'' said Greg Soule, spokesman of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

The AP also reports that airlines that do not follow the new U.S. enhanced screening rules could be penalized through warnings and fines, ultimately ending with the TSA barring them from flying into the United States.

Airport security when travelers arrive in the United States, however, seems tighter, according to a UC Irvine student from Bahrain traveling with his father.According to The Los Angeles Times, the two traveled from Saudi Arabia into London's Heathrow Airport where they traveled through metal detectors and underwent pat-down searches. 

Then, after arriving at Los Angeles International, they were questioned by authorities as they claimed their luggage at the Tom Bradley terminal, and officials searched a book bag the student was carrying. The passengers, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified for fear of being harassed, said authorities wanted to know why they were in the U.S. and where they lived.

In related news, President Barack Obama today will meet with the heads of the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security to get updates on the botched Christmas Day terrorist attack. Afterward, reports, he will address the public, outline his findings, and initiate reforms to bolster the ability of the government to detect and disrupt future attacks.

♦ Photo byItiro/Flickr