By Anne E. Kornblut and Spencer S. Hsu
Friday, April 2, 2010; 10:25 PM
The Obama administration is abandoning its policy of using nationality alone
to determine which U.S.-bound international air travelers should be subject to additional screening and will instead select passengers based on possible matches to intelligence information, including physical descriptions or a particular travel pattern, senior officials said Thursday.
After the attempted bombing of an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on Christmas Day
, U.S. officials hastily decided that passengers from or traveling through 14 specified countries would be subjected to secondary searches. Critics have since called the measures discriminatory and overly burdensome, and the administration has faced pressure to refine its approach.
Under the new system, screeners will stop passengers for additional security if they match certain pieces of known intelligence. The system will be "much more intel-based," a senior administration official said, "as opposed to blunt force."
"It's much more tailored to what the intelligence is telling us, what the threat is telling us, as opposed to stopping all individuals of a particular nationality or all individuals using a particular passport," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.