Aug 14 2008

TSA threatens airlines who tell people they’re on watchlists

Let’s see. You’re hassled mercilessly by airline employees, who won’t let you check luggage, won’t let you print a boarding pass, won’t let you check in, and bring cops and airport security people to confront you when you appear to resolve the situation. But under a new plan by TSA, the airline risks a $25,000 fine if they tell you WHY they are hassling you.

USA Today reports that TSA’s upset when airlines explain the hassle by telling people they’re on a TSA watch list. TSA will not tell people when they are on such a list. TSA won’t tell people when they ARE NOT on such a list. They want the airlines to do the same — keep mum, but keep harassing the public.

TSA and the DoJ counterterrorism center twice barred a Malaysian woman from flying, ordered her arrested, kept her in custody for hours, and eventually allowed her to fly out of the US only long enough for them to permanently cancel her US visa without notice, so she could not return to Stanford to finish her PhD. The victim, Rahinah Ibrahim, sued them. Even in court, TSA refuses to confirm or deny whether she was on the watch list. Idiots!

TSA’s lists are secret, just as in all good government institutions. TSA’s regulations are secret, just as in all good government institutions. Let’s hope TSA doesn’t propose new regulations next month with $25,000 fines against web sites or the press if they tell people that secret watch lists exist and that you’re being hassled at the airport because TSA suspects you of being a terrorist without a shred of evidence.

(Of course, airlines have been known to screw up, and they love to blame government regulations when it’s their own damn fault. But despite the airlines’ eagerness to check IDs so that their customers can’t resell unused tickets, it was the government that imposed the current system of harassment, and put 400,000 to 1,000,000 alleged communists — oops, wrong bogeyman, it’s not the 50’s any more — I meant “terrorists” — on these secret blacklists.)

Aug 14 2008

TSA stops building database of ID-less travelers

USA Today reports that Lack of ID put fliers on TSA list.  16,500 people were in this database since TSA changed the secret rules for travelers in June.  After being called by USA Today to comment for the story, TSA head Kip Hawley changed the rule “effective today” and pledged to remove the 16,500 names from its database of “suspicious people”.

We applaud Mr. Hawley for ceasing to keep permanent records on the id-less 1% of the population.  It remains for him to stop trying to bar citizens from domestic travel based on blacklists, and to stop demanding that people submit to illegitimate government demands to “identify themselves” before moving from place to place in their own country.