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U.S. Tightens Security for Travelers from 14 Nations

The U.S. announced that travelers from 14 nations will face heightened security when entering the U.S., at the same time as restrictions for U.S. citizens are loosened. The countries in question include known state sponsors of terrorism and other "countries of interest."

Here's the full list:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Cuba
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

The New York Times reports that, "Passengers holding passports from those nations, or taking flights that originated or passed through any of them, will be required to undergo full-body pat downs and will face extra scrutiny of their carry-on bags before they can board planes to the United States.

"In some countries that have more advanced screening equipment, travelers will also be required to pass through so-called whole-body scanners that can look beneath clothing for hidden explosives or weapons, or may be checked with a device that can find tiny traces of explosives."

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Passengers from other countries may also be selected for additional screening, either at random or if screeners decide someone is suspicious enough to warrant it.

The Times notes that, at the same time, "American citizens, and most others who are not flying through those 14 nations on their way to the United States, will no longer automatically face the full range of intensified security that was imposed after the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight."

Predictably (and understandably), the decision to target all citizens from these 14 countries has drawn criticism. Many see it as unfair to declare travelers suspicious merely due to their citizenship, and fear that treating travelers this way will only deepen tensions abroad. But others point out that the countries on the list simply reflect the state of affairs in the world, and, as such, the Obama administration contends the policy is not one of racial profiling.

Readers, do you think this is yet another security overreaction? Or is it the first step toward a more reality-based approach? Leave a comment below with your thoughts. Thanks!

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