Shoe removal is here to stay

August 03, 2008|By McClatchy-Tribune

How come no one was asked to remove their shoes when we went through airport security for our flight from Milan, Italy, yet we still need to remove our shoes for security lines each time we fly commercially in the United States?

At U.S. airports, the Transportation Security Administration initiated the voluntary removal of shoes in 2001. As you may recall, that was after passengers on a Paris-to-Miami flight overpowered would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid when he tried to detonate explosives in his shoes. (He pleaded guilty and received a life sentence.) Shoe removal became mandatory in 2006.

But the TSA's oversight covers only the United States. The federal agency can't require compliance with its regulations and policies at airports in other countries, says Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the TSA. "Many of the security procedures we employ, like the liquid ban, are similar in dozens of countries; others, like the shoe screening, are not."

However, overseas airports are required to meet the minimum security standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, and Melendez says the TSA maintains a "significant presence around the globe to ensure those standards are met for flights coming into the United States."

Perhaps you were hoping the shoe-removal policy would end soon.

Sorry, Melendez says. It's for your own security, so bear with the TSA.

"We know the terrorists still have a significant interest in using devices hidden in shoes to bring down an aircraft," he says. "We still routinely find items hidden in shoes and just last year found shoes in Alaska manipulated to introduce components of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

"The common theory is that the shoe-screening process is based on only one incident, but that is not true."

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.