Transportation Study Brings Security Changes

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America's subways and trains are vulnerable to potential terrorist attacks, according to a year-long study released by the Obama administration, Friday.

The report points to communication problems between local governments and federal agencies.

Worldwide, terrorists attack trains and subways more often than planes. Recent subway bombings in Russia is one example.

"Surface transportation has not received the same attention, the same priority and the same resources as aviation security," said Brian Michael Jenkins, director of the National Transportation Security Center. 

Airport Screening Changes

The Obama administration has also revised an earlier decision to more thoroughly screen airline passengers from countries associated with terror cells.

The 14 countries listed in the former provision are Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The policy was instituted after a botched terror attack by a Nigerian student aboard a Northwest Airlines jetliner traveling from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate his explosives as the plane was preparing to land at the Detroit aiport. Passengers aboard the flight noticed Abdulmutallab's suspicious behavior and tried to subdue him.

The detonator failed and the plane landed safely. When investigators pieced together the details of the attempted attack, the gaps in U.S. security procedures became more evident.

The new policy, which will take effect this month, screens passengers according to specific Intelligence information for potential terror acts, such as name, nationality, age, etc.

If a passenger matches the description of a known terrorist, that person would be scrutinized more thoroughly.

According to one U.S. official, the new policy will significantly reduce the number of passengers subject to extra screening, allowing airport security staff to make decisions based on Intelligence reports rather than nationality.

Standard security provisions, such as checking names against Intelligence data bases will continue. Some 24,000 people worldwide appear on "no fly" and "selectee" lists, The Washington Post reported.

"It's much more tailored to what the Intelligence [agency] 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," one senior official, speaking on condition on anonymity, told reporters.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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