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15 Jan, 2010 01:11

US faces new security challenges

By the end of December, it seemed that the White House party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi were going to be the top national security story of 2009. The attempted bombing on Christmas Day changed all that.

However, US President Barack Obama took the attention away from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when he announced that the responsibility for protecting the nation is his alone.

“Ultimately, the buck stops with me,”
said Obama. “As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. And when the system fails, it is my responsibility.”

Obama’s announcement resulted in new rules governing airline passengers both inside and outside of the United States, such as limited when passengers can go to the bathroom and what they can have in their laps.

The US government is also investing millions of dollars into new security equipment, including the so-called “naked machines,” which have raised questions of privacy for many people. Additionally, ethnic minorities fear an increase in racial profiling at airports.

Rajdeep Singh is a Sikh, and his religion prohibits him from taking off his turban in a public place. He says that removing it would be more offensive than a strip search.

“Even if I pass through a metal detector without setting off an alarm, I am put into a cage in which I have to hold my hands up and where I’m asked to pat down my turban. In the meantime, other passengers are flying through security regardless of what they’re wearing,”
said Singh.

Other travelers, however, say that security hasn’t gotten tighter. If anything, many of those flying through Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport moved quickly through the checkpoints.

With billions spent on security, heightened concerns about racial profiling and the increased possibility of losing civil liberties, America may need to face an additional question: Have the terrorists somehow already won?