Common sense at the airport

For a decade, the Transportation Security Administration has refused to exercise any common sense, ignoring airline passengers who fit the profile of possible terrorists, for instance, while wasting time screening children, the elderly and others who don't. However, public outrage over the videoptaped groping of a 6-year-old girl at the New Orleans airport last April seems to have caught the attention of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole.

By Christmas, children 12 years old and younger will no longer have to take off their shoes to get on an airplane, and they'll be patted down less, Ms. Napolitano said Tuesday. Even some adult air travelers may be able to keep their shoes on when they pass through airport security checkpoints, though she indicated rules that apply to carrying liquids are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

TSA spokesman Greg Soule said the changes will begin rolling out in select airports this week.

"We do want to move and are moving to a more risk-based approach to screening passengers, try to streamline procedures for those passengers who are low-risk, which enhances our ability to focus on passengers who either we don't know or who are high-risk," Ms. Napolitano testified Tuesday before the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Pat-downs might still be used if agents can't resolve an uncertain image on their new, body-scanning advanced imaging technology, a spokesman said.

Under the new policy, random searches will still be conducted for children and other passengers to keep the system unpredictable, Ms. Napolitano said.

"We are moving toward an intelligence- and risk-based approach to how we screen," Politico reported Ms. Napolitano saying.

After only a decade? And people say the federal government isn't quick on its feet.

Who knows, by 2021, maybe the blue-gloved gropers will apply such common-sense standards to adult air travelers.