On Tuesday, the Trump Administration announced restrictions on carry-on large electronic devices on US bound flights from 10 airports in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa. These security measures come on the heels of the revised executive order which imposed an immigration and refugee ban and resulted in litigation and wide-ranging public debate about its discriminatory intent. But is the carry-on ban different?

I asked Lisa Monaco, who most recently served as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism from 2013 to 2017. She is now Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Center on Law and Security, NYU School of Law. Monaco signed a letter to President Donald Trump along with over 130 former senior officials (from Republican and Democratic administrations) criticizing the revised travel ban. She also signed onto amicus briefs that state that the original and revised executive orders undermine U.S. national security. Here is what Monaco had to say about the newly announced carry-on security measure.

I would be wary of linking this measure to the rhetoric about the travel ban. In my experience these moves would be based on specific threat reporting, informed by intelligence community analysis and careful consideration by the State Department, DHS officials and other professionals about purpose and implications, and there would be consultation with partners and outreach by TSA and DHS officials to airlines and others.  That all may have occurred here.

What is unclear from what I’ve read is whether the carry-on ban is accompanied by additional screening for devices now required to be placed in checked luggage. There may be additional steps being taken that – for good reason – are not being talked about. As you may recall, in 2014, DHS issued a security directive at 14 last-point-of-departures for US bound aircraft that enhanced substantially a number of screening measures including with regard to laptops.  Those measures were responsive to threat reporting, the subject of interagency discussion, intelligence community analysis, and careful roll out, outreach and coordination with partners.


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