Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 probe sparks new security measure

The investigation into the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 exposed one major gap in air security - the widespread lack of passport screenings by most countries.

Two passengers on board Flight 370 were traveling on stolen passports. That's now prompted the United States to add screening for all passengers leaving the country.

The U.S. screens air travelers' names through many databases, looking for terrorists, wanted criminals and more.

Their passports are also screened through Interpol's stolen and lost travel documents database. But until now, the United States has only screened the passports of incoming passengers - not those leaving.

The change came to light Friday during a congressional hearing. John Wagner of Customs and Border Patrol told Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee his agency started screening passports of departing fliers after Flight 370 disappeared.

Asked during the hearing if the agency would continue this practice, Wagner replied, "Absolutely."

"Ensuring people are properly credentialed and we know who they are is a key piece of that," he said.

Andrew Farrelly, a former director of targeting programs at Customs and Border Protection, told CBS News he supports the new practice of screening outgoing passengers as well as incoming.

"I think that coupled with this information and the new abilities to act on that information, it definitely makes air travel a lot safer," he said.

Farrelly said CBP debated making the change for years, but did not have enough staff or resources to track down all the passports that might be flagged.

"There were other priorities that required attention," he said. "This tragic event of the Malaysia flight really does offer some highlights to things that you can do better."

CBP officials told CBS News the new passport screening happens behind the scenes and should not delay outgoing international flights.

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