X-Rays Won't Detect Liquid or Gel Bombs

The government's new order that all airline passengers put their shoes through X-ray machines won't help screeners find a liquid or gel that can be used as a bomb.

But, he said, "with a million and a half to 2 million passengers every day, it is not practical to think that we are going to take every bottle and scan it through these liquid scanners."

"We are not going to wait for the perfect device to be deployable," Hawley said in an interview Friday. "We're going to look for a total system to be at the level to make us comfortable."

The agency wants to make better use of a limited resource - airport screeners, whose numbers have been capped by Congress at 45,000. The TSA handles security for 450 commercial airports.

Among the changes TSA said it is considering:

_Hire more people to take baggage-handling responsibilities from screeners so the screeners can focus on security responsibilities.

_Have screeners, instead of contract employees hired by airlines, check IDs and boarding passes.

_Expand a program that trains screeners to look for unusual behavior in passengers that might indicate malicious intent. Called SPOT - Screening Passengers by Observation Technique - it's used in at least 12 airports, Howe said.

Those changes may require approval by Congress and agreement with airports and the airline industry, which might have to bear some of the cost, Howe said.


On the Net:

Transportation Security Administration: http://www.tsa.gov

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