J. D. Heyes
July 5, 2013
It’s being described as an enhancement to security, but what it amounts to is just another way the federal government is becoming more invasive and less tolerant of your privacy.
The Transportation Security Administration has announced recently (and very quietly) that it is expanding a so-called watch list of individuals who are supposedly in violation of the intrusive agency’s security rules.
The announcement came in the form of an entry in the Federal Register in late 2012:
As part of the effort to identify individuals that are low risk, TSA also is creating and maintaining a watch list of individuals who are disqualified from eligibility from TSA Pre[check]TM, for some period of time or permanently, because they have been involved in violations of security regulations of sufficient severity or frequency.
Just because you’re a ‘preferred’ customer doesn’t mean you won’t be searched anyway
According to the TSA’s website, the pre-screening program “allows select frequent flyers of participating airlines and members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs to receive expedited screening benefits during domestic travel. Eligible participants use dedicated screening lanes for screening benefits which include leaving on shoes, light outerwear and belts, as well as leaving laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-on bags.”
In “qualifying” for the program; however, the traveler is allowing TSA access to all of your personal information, in exchange for skirting the chaotic and invasive pre-boarding examination every other traveler has to endure.
The announcement continued:
Disqualifying violations of aviation security regulations may involve violations at the airport or on board aircraft, such as a loaded firearm that is discovered in carry-on baggage at the checkpoint, or a threat to use a destructive device against a transportation conveyance, facilities, or personnel. The TSA Pre[check]TM Disqualification List will be generated by TSA’s Performance and Results Information System (PARIS).
What is ironic about this program is that regardless of whether a traveler qualifies, he or she will still be “randomly” subjected to the same treatment as other travelers. “TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening,” the agency says on its website, under “Frequently Asked Questions.”
The program really seems to function more as a way for the federal government to gather information on travelers who are fed up with the ridiculously invasive pat-down and screening procedures at the nation’s airports.
“Given that it was recently discovered that some TSA procedures, including complaints, are operated and processed in all manner of different ways and at the whim of each individual TSA agent, it is no stretch of the imagination to expect that anyone merely opting out of the body scanners, complaining about pat-downs, or filming at checkpoints could be considered to be in ‘violation,’ and therefore added to this latest watch list,” InfoWars.com observed.
Growing civil liberties issue
A few years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union said it was receiving a high volume of complaints from air travelers about the TSA’s screening procedures, but that they elected not to complain about it to the agency for fear of being singled out and placed on a watch list.
“These complaints came from men, women and children who reported feeling humiliated and traumatized by these searches, and, in some cases, comparing their psychological impact to sexual assaults,” the ACLU said in a statement.
In a suit against the federal government, the civil rights organization is representing citizens who believe they’ve been put on a TSA no-fly list without explanation. Under current conditions, anyone on that list who submits a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, under which TSA falls, asking to be removed has no way of knowing if their request has been considered, without trying to get on another plane.