On April 6, the administration of President Barack Obama said the
exemptions would also affect Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi
Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.
For more than three months, passengers who came
from these countries had been subjected to additional inspection, including
patting down their entire body before boarding flights to the United States.
Iran, Sudan and Syria have been on the U.S. State Department list of
The measures were instituted on Jan. 3 in the wake of a failed bombing of a
U.S. airliner by an Al Qaida agent from Nigeria. The would-be bomber, Omar
Farouk Abdul Mutallab, had been on a no-fly list meant to prevent entry to
the United States.
Officials said President Barack Obama ordered the review that led to the
removal of Iran, Syria and other countries from a list that required
intensified security measures. They said Obama has sought to base passenger
screening in accordance with specific threats to the United States.
"These new, enhanced measures are part of a dynamic, threat-based
aviation security system covering all passengers travelling by air to the
U.S. while focusing security measures in a more effective and efficient
manner to ensure the safety and security of the travelling public," Homeland
Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.
Officials acknowledged that the security measures had elicted protests
from several countries, particularly Algeria, regarded as a key partner in
U.S. counter-insurgency. They said other Arab countries then viewed the
measures as reflecting U.S. distrust of their regimes while American
passengers complained of huge delays at airports.
"Passengers travelling to the U.S. from international destinations may
notice enhanced security and random screening measures throughout the
passenger check-in and boarding process, including the use of explosives
trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams, or patdowns,
among other security measures," Ms. Napolitano said.
Officials said Ms. Napolitano has briefed foreign governments, including
some of the 14, of the revised security measures. They said airport
authorities would target individuals that match the description of any
unnamed insurgency threat, whether by age or nationality.
"It is much more surgical targeting those individuals we are concerned
about and have intelligence for," an administration official told a briefing
on April 1. "This is not a system that can be called profiling in the
traditional sense. It is intelligence-based."