Coming Soon: Keeping Your Shoes On At The Airport

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


One of the most recognizable post-9/11 security rituals is on its way out, according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Politico‘s Josh Gerstein reports that the days of taking your shoes off in the airport are coming to a close:

“We are moving towards an intelligence and risk-based approach to how we screen,” Napolitano told Mike Allen during a morning forum at the Newseum. “I think one of the first things you will see over time is the ability to keep your shoes on. One of the last things you will [see] is the reduction or limitation on liquids.”

The phrase “risk-based approach” can mean different things in the context of airport security. Sometimes it’s a euphemism for Israeli-style passenger screening involving individual interviews and racial profiling, neither of which would fly politically in the US—and as Jeffrey Goldberg has pointed out, Israel’s one international airport has about half the traffic of one of Washington DC’s three.

Then there’s the “trusted traveler” approach, which would exempt certain frequent travelers from enhanced screening and focus on those about whom DHS has little information. TSA head John Pistole has been a supporter of the concept in the past, and he said in a speech two weeks ago that his agency will begin testing out this program in the fall. There are risks to this approach too—namely that exempting some passengers from screening procedures will create an obvious loophole for terrorists to exploit.

What will the “trusted traveler” approach mean for the average, non-frequent flier? Unclear, but the end of the era of taking off your shoes probably has more to do with the advent of invasive tech like backscatter machines than the new “intelligence-based approach” to airport security. As Napolitano told Politico, “The solution to many if not all of these inconveniences is better and better technology.” But what this may really mean is that the better TSA gets at invading your privacy, the less the agency needs your assistance in doing it. 

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate