Airline passengers on flights headed to the United States will soon be safer, says the White House, thanks to new passenger screening procedures.
Let's hope so.
Not that there seems to be anything wrong per se with the new policy, which searches for potential terrorists based on intelligence data, rather than on foreign passengers' nationalities.
But let's be frank: US intelligence-gathering remains far below what's needed to ensure air safety.
If America didn't learn that on Christmas Day and thereafter, it never will.
Moreover, the new policy doesn't add an extra layer to existing security measures -- it replaces the extra screening for travelers from 14 mostly Middle Eastern nationalities that was ordered after the Christmas bombing attempt.
And it appears mostly to be an effort to avoid criticism for -- eek! -- "profiling."
Indeed, boasted one administration official, "This is not a system that can be called profiling in the traditional sense. . . . It's much more tailored to what intelligence is telling us."
But what's wrong with profiling? Especially when would-be airline bombers have so far come almost entirely from one particular region and/or are affiliated with one particular religious persuasion?
As opposed to a policy that depends on "what intelligence is telling us."
To be sure, the new policy, unveiled yesterday by the Department of Homeland Security, has the endorsement of Rep. Peter King (R-LI), who says that "anytime we can make better and more sophisticated use of intelligence, that's a step forward."
We won't quibble with King, whose concern for national security is manifest.
Our beef is with the record of the US intelligence establishment -- starting with the 9/11 hijackers to the illusory WMDs of Iraq through the Fort Hood massacre and, especially, the Christmas bombing attempt.
Good enough for airline security?
Of course not.