Air Safety Balance

POSTED: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - 12:49pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:25pm

Security officials seek to strengthen air security without seeming to punish flying public...

Umar Abdulmutallab hid three ounces of a powerful explosive in his undergarment.

It, along with a syringe, were charred when the material caught fire.

We now know Abdulmutallab had been in Yemen since August and got a visa to the U.S. last year even though he was denied one in Great Britain.

Today, airport lines are still long amid heightened security.

"It's ridiculous, but it's what needs to be done," said passenger Clay Lewis at Detroit Metro Airport.

But the government has begun to ease some in-flight restrictions, allowing pilots to decide if passengers can hold blankets, read magazines or use the restroom in the last hour of flight.

"What we have to guard against is to punish two million travelers and the whole aviation industry whenever we should be focusing on proper intelligence," says former Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson.

President Obama has ordered a review of how U.S. intelligence protects air travelers.

A key Republican said today Abdulmutallab should be tried by the military, and Muslims entering America need tougher screening.

"To say that we should be screening a Scandinavian grandmother the same as we do a Middle Eastern male. The reality is our enemy comes from Islamic terrorism and we should be focused on them," says Rep. Peter King (R-NY).

A Senate hearing next month will undoubtedly look into how effective the TSA is screening passengers, and whether more agents are needed at airports overseas.

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