Jul 23 2010

“The government shouldn’t decide who can fly”

In one of the first statements in the mainstream media to (a) recognize that the essential feature of the TSA’s Secure Flight program is the requirement for domestic US air travelers to receive government permisison to fly and (b) oppose that requirement, The Chicago Tribune has published an op-ed column by Steve Chapman (also appearing in Reason) arguing that, “The government shouldn’t decide who can fly”:

Get rid of the no-fly list entirely. For that matter, get rid of the requirement that passengers provide government-approved identification just to go from one place to another.

Americans have a constitutionally protected right, recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court, to travel freely. They also have the right not to be subject to unreasonable searches and other government intrusions. But in the blind pursuit of safety, we have swallowed restrictions on travel and infringements on privacy we would never tolerate elsewhere….

If the federal government began requiring every citizen to provide identification for each trip in a car or ride on a bus, there would be a mass uprising. Somehow, though, Americans have come to see commercial air travel as a privilege to be dispensed by the government.