Security screening/data sharing for airline passengers: does this disturb anyone?


The most disturbing part: “8 percent of passengers will be coded “yellow” and will undergo additional screening at the checkpoint, while 1 to 2 percent will be coded red and be prevented from boarding. That could equal about 30,000 passengers a day who would not be allowed to board based on the average daily passenger volume.”

In principle, like anyone else I don’t want to see any airplanes blown up. But in practice, who will verify the validity of the data? Who will get to decide whether a given individual will get to board? 8% subject to secondary screening seems awfully high to me, and 1-2% denied boarding entirely? For a given flight, or ever again? Does this mean that, say, anyone with an assault or disorderly conduct arrest will be prevented from flying ever again? What will additional screening consist of? Will boarding after additional screening be subject to the whim of the inspector? What recourse does a would-be passenger have if denied boarding, or for a flight missed because of additional security screening?

I have grave misgivings about how such a plan would be implemented, as well as its implications for the slippery slope of data sharing. Anyone else?

I think the very voicing of such un-American concerns should be sufficient to move you up to red on the Sherwin-Williams color code of terror.

I completely agree.

A group of South Asian men were arrested in Canada and held without charge because they seemed suspicious and may possibly have potentially been an Al Quaeda sleeper cell. The case against them is turning out to be pretty insubstantial but some of them are still being held.

These are the kinds of people who will be prevented from boarding flights: disenfranchised, people without fancy lawyers, people unlikely to arouse public sympathy. There’s been too much of this kind of thing since Sept 11.

I think I’m already there (and if the duration of my government security clearance in 1991 was any indication, then the Feds though I was red a long time ago, but that’s another story). I’ve been selected for additional screening on almost every flight I’ve boarded since 9/11, and I am U.S.-born, buy round-trip tickets in advance with a credit card, and have never had so much as a speeding ticket. The one explanation I can think of is that I look somewhat Middle Eastern, in spite of my rather boring non-ethnic name. Unless we want to engage in conspiracy theories about my rather mild level of political activity, all completely nonviolent and lawful.

However, I have a big mouth and know a lot of lawyers. The next few years could get very interesting. Anyone want to contribute to my defense fund in advance?

I heard the Dept of Homeland Security got ahold of a warehouse full of old mood rings they were going to issue to all prospective passengers. You’ll have to put on the ring, and compare the results to the color-chart-o’-terror.

The only thing that should come out of your big mouth is “baaaa!”

The original Washington Post article has a lot more info than the CNN/Money summary.

Yet another example of the systematic undermining of the rights upon which the United States was founded. As an historian, I quite honestly do not recognize the country in which we live today. One of the most unique characteristics of the rule of law established by the Constitution is the presumption of innocence. The CAPPS II database is in direct contravention of that premise, and therefore in direct contravention of the fundamental values for which the United States stands. In a legal sense, it’s quite literally unconstitutional, but it will take years for legal challenges to work through the system. By then, the damage will be done - i.e., people will have come to accept it as the status quo.

What I don’t understand is why every citizen with access to a telephone or a stamp isn’t calling or writing their legislators to protest this. I can only surmise that people are either insufficiently educated by our public school system in civics and U.S. history to understand what is being done to them, or they are so overwhelmed by the daily grind to make ends meet that they haven’t the will to speak out.

Wonderful. Up until now, errors in the credit bureaus were enough to deny you credit and you had to waste time getting things straightened out but from now on you may also be denied boarding at the last moment thus mising your sister’s wedding, that important business meeting or your vacation in Cancun.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of government officials.

Let me be the first (but hopefully not the only) dissenting voice and say:[ul][li]The right to board an airplane is not in the Bill of Rights[/li]Jet airliners are now a form of WMD and have to be made more secure[/ul]Our democracy has survived McCarthy-ism, Watergate and Bill Clinton’s impeachment. I think we’ll survive a little extra airport security.


Further, CAPPS II is intended to provide a passenger score, similar to a credit risk score, by first authenticating the passenger (scoring the likelihood the passenger is who he says he is) and then by providing a risk assessment – essentially a US Government background check. Puts a whole new paradigm shift onto the notion of convenient travel.

When you walk into a courthouse, it’s pretty well established you’re going to get scanned, then frisked and have your cute little Swiss Army Knife confiscated. Some people don’t seem to understand that an airport is very similar to this scenario; you walk into it and you’re under a whole new set of rules. There are few places in the US where you can (as of 9/10/03) be arrested on the spot for joking about a bomb, or detained for your selection of reading material.

Bottom line: if you don’t like it, don’t fly commercial airlines. There really won’t be very much choice in the near future, and as soon as the first “ax murderer” or garden-variety AlSadBinQaeda terrorist is hogtied, Mr. Sixpack is going to cheer when we pin a medal on the TSA.

Precisely. That’s the part that bothers me the most: how many terrorists is this really going to foil?

The Supremes have repeatedly held a right to travel guaranteed by the 1st and 5th Amendments. You’re suggesting we are free only to travel anywhere we can walk?

Numerous alternative and less intrusive methods for increasing security exist.

The fact that our country has survived previous travesties, does not make the current situation any less pungent.

If you are convicted of drunken driving no one’s going to feel sorry that you have to take the bus work.

If you have a couple felonies under your belt and that makes it hard or sometimes even impossible to take a plane, tough shit.

I, for one, don’t think my preferences in hotel rooms or special meals while traveling are any of John Ashcroft’s business, nor do I trust the TSA (particularly very low-level officers with next to no training or experience) to exercise discretion appropriately when using this information. I fail to see what my choice of a single or double room has to do with national security. And the apparent lack of recourse in correcting erroneous records and/or cases of mistaken identity is very, very disturbing. Nobody is going to be able to fix an issue like that on the spot, and yet the flight is already missed. The damage is irreparable and cannot be planned for.

This is an entirely different situation from preventing convicted drunk drivers from retaining a driver’s license. In that case, the punishment is subject to several levels of judicial review and is directly related to the offense. One also has numerous opportunities to avoid being convicted in the first place, either by behaving oneself or with competent legal defense and pre-trial preparation. In the case of this so-called screening program, travelers have no idea what information is being gathered about them, much less how it will be used or whether it is likely to prevent them from traveling. Is the fact that someone got into a drunken barroom brawl in college a good predictor of whether he will hijack a plane? Probably not, but an assault conviction for such an offense probably won’t show up any differently in a criminal records database than one for gay-bashing, or one for a religiously based violent hate crime.

Under this screening program, travelers are not made aware of facts (many of questionable veracity) that are held against them, and the value of much of this “intelligence” information is dubious at best in any case. Say someone orders a halal meal on an airline flight. This fact is of zero probative value in determining that this individual is a terrorist, and yet I bet some low-level moron will try to hold it against him that he is trying to observe religious dietary laws.

What I’m wondering about is:

How on earth does the history of your shopping habits confirm your identity?

Security: “Mr. Smith… if that is your real name… tell me, what did you purchase the last time you went grocery shopping!”

I fail to see how current identification requirements are inadequate (state ID, passport, etc…).
Also, Hail Ants, I completely disagree that those with a criminal record should be barred from flying. But as sailor said earlier, “Up until now, errors in the credit bureaus were enough to deny you credit and you had to waste time getting things straightened out but from now on you may also be denied boarding…”

The information contained in these databases is hardly infallible. And the idea that they’re already expecting that 1-2% of travellers will be barred from boarding is staggering. That’s a huge amount, considering the number of domestic flights.

But isn’t Canadialand a bastion of all pure democracy and all pure human rights? Isn’t Canadialand the one true place of human dignity? Isn’t that what Canadialanders keep claiming here?

Oh, and let us not forget that code red people have been characterized as likely to be arrested for being classified as such.

No, but I wouldn’t want someone prone to starting a ‘brawl after getting drunk’ on an airliner either. Not when the ‘law’ in such a situation consists of a female flight attendant & a pair of handcuffs.

Flying via commercial aviation is NOT a constitutional right, not by a long shot. It is a privilege. and not something you can just take for granted.

Neither is the right to eat hamburger but the government should not be infringing the right of the people to have their privacy without first proving there is a compelling public interest. The evidence in this case seems to show this is not an effective way to prevent terrorist attacks and is only a way for the government to intrude on people’s privacy. The evidence is that the cost in inconvenience and mess-ups does not justify any small rewards which may happen but probably won’t. We do not want to live in a police state even if that would mean catching a few more criminals. The justification the US governemnt is giving now is the same justification the Communist dictatorships gave and give to justify their tight control and which the US government has rejected over and over.

Yes, but you have to prove the connection, you cannot just go around abridging people’s liberties without proving a connection and I cannot see how this does anything to stop terrorists. If buying a one way ticket is a reason to harass people i think it is stupid. Or are terrorists too cheap to buy a round trip ticket in order to not trigger the flag?

Preventing terrorism has become the new excuse to justify anything, from abridging people’s rights to invading other countries, no matter how weak or non-existent the connection. It is what communism was in the 50s, the excuse for the witch-hunt.

That does not make them good things. It was better if they did not happen.

What kind of reasoning is that? The government should be allowed to do anything as long as the people and the country can survive it?

Just a thought:

If we institute this policy here, what guarantee do we have about reciprocity of foreign powers? Doesn’t CAPPS II just give us a Gore-Tex border? Reds get in, but they can’t get out.

All my life, I’ve thought the Unofficial US Credo was pretty firm. I guess only now it’s “Love It or smuggle yourself across the border and Leave It.”)

So Eva Luna, what nefarious activity are you up to?

For all the other neo-paranoids drive instead of fly!

When I board a plane, I feel a whole lot better knowing everyone was cleared the security screening. No need to have a homicidal maniac loose at 30k feet next to you.