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Security Expert Urges Patience By Airline Passengers

U.S. aviation security consultant urges passengers to be more receptive to the use of full body scans at international airports.

A aviation security consultant is urging passengers heading for the United States to be more receptive of increased security measures designed to reduce the risk of terrorism on international flights.

The use of new scanning technology and baggage searches has been mandated by the U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA) for passengers on flights to the United States from 14 nations deemed to be sponsors of terrorism or of special interest.

The use of the new scanning technology has become a sensitive issue for those passengers who are concerned about privacy. The scans reveal objects underneath a subject's clothing.

But security experts note that privacy concerns and modesty have to be balanced with the nation's security needs. "I think we as a people, need to give up certain of our rights," said airline security consultant Douglas Laird.

Laird, a former security director for Northwest Airlines, said increased security is for the good of all. "In other words, do you want to keep the bomb off the airplane?" He said most people may find the full-body scan far less intrusive than a complete body pat down search.

In order to reduce the threat of airline terrorism, Laird suggests that body scan technology be deployed at European airports that have flights into the United States." Until that technology is in place, "we should be demanding that all individuals on those flights be physically searched prior to boarding the flight," Laird said.

Laird warns that while the recent Christmas Day bombing attempt failed, "don't for a minute think that they (terrorists) are not going to keep trying."

Laird's comments come as the European Union is considering new measures to boost overall airport security, including the use of body-scanning technology that has raised privacy concerns. The British government has also called for the quick deployment of full body scanners that can detect security threats by showing what is concealed under people's clothing. In Italy, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini voiced support for the scanners, saying they are worth the "sacrifice" of privacy.

On Tuesday (5 January), the Canadian government announced that it is buying 44 full body scanners to be installed in its airports. Canadian Transport Minister John Baird announced that passengers flying to the United States from Canada will face thorough body searches and that a ban of all carry-on bags is now in place.

The U.S. government has increased security screening for people traveling "from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism," listed by the State Department as Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria -- as well as "other countries of interest" -- Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.