Editor’s Note: Stephen Flynn served on the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. He is president of the Center for National Policy and the author of “The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation.” Frances Townsend is a CNN national security contributor and former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush. She is a partner at the international law firm Baker Botts.
(CNN) – Tougher airport security checks are in place today. Travelers flying into the United States from 14 high-risk countries will now be subject to body scans and pat-downs. Passengers on other incoming international flights will also be subject to more frequent random searches. But what does all that mean and will it really make us safer in the air?
On Monday’s American Morning we dug deeper into the new security measures with homeland security expert Stephen Flynn and CNN National Security Contributor Frances Townsend. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.
Kiran Chetry: Anybody flying into the U.S. faces these random screenings. All passengers coming from those 14 ‘terror-prone’ nations will be patted down and have their carry-on bags searched. How much does that tighten the net? Does it go far enough?
Stephen Flynn: We have a real challenge here. Airline security was viewed as the crown jewel of our post-9/11 homeland security efforts and obviously this latest incident exposed some serious gaps. There are limits though to just what we can do to pat down and screen every bit of our way to security. One of the two key elements that were very essential for preventing this attack was first the report from the father about the terrorist. That's a very important tool that we need to be able to use.
The other piece was of course the actions of the passengers themselves on the plane to obstruct the attack. We need to remember that in the overall layers of security that we embrace that our greatest asset often is everyday people. And to the extent to which some of the prescriptions that are coming out are really centered around technology and just heavily around the inspection process here, we're losing sight of the bigger picture.
A security breach at Newark International Airport last night left flights grounded and thousands of passengers waiting late into the night to be re-screened. The scare happened after a man walked through a screening checkpoint exit into a secure area of the terminal.
On Monday's American Morning we spoke on the phone with Dove Ballon, who was stranded at the airport last night with her husband.