October 4, 2011
The TSA insists citizens can possibly avoid cancer-causing naked body scanners and sexual molestation pat-downs if they elect to divulge personal information to the government.
“A select group of travelers may find it easier Tuesday getting through security checkpoints at four major U.S. airports in return for voluntarily providing more personal information to the federal government as part of a new pilot program,” the Associated Press reports.
It was not revealed what personal information the TSA will collect and it was not disclosed what “security steps” participants might avoid, if any.
The program was rolled out in response to widespread outrage over the TSA’s Gestapo tactics.
The Associated Press describes the “PreCheck” program ordered by the Obama administration as a “move away from a one-size-fits-all security approach and toward a more risk-based, intelligence-driven model. It comes after complaints about full-body pat downs and intensive searches of children and the elderly.”
TSA boss John Pistole said the new intelligence gathering effort will marry information gathered at airports with “our other layers of security” and will supposedly allow authorities to concentrate on “higher-risk and unknown passengers.”
PreCheck will be merged with other frequent-flier programs, including Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI and will for now operate primarily out of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airports.
PreCheck will also cover “selected travelers” enrolled in American Airlines’ frequent-flier program who travel through Miami International and Dallas-Fort Worth International airports and will involve between 5,000 to 8,000 travelers per day.
The SENTRI program run by the Department of Homeland Security offers “expedited” U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing. Voluntarily applicants must undergo a thorough background check against criminal, law enforcement, customs, immigration, and terrorist databases. Applicants must provide a 10-fingerprint law enforcement check and a personal interview with a CBP Officer. SENTRI has an “enrollment fee” of $122.25.
NEXUS participants are checked for criminal history and positive matches on FBI, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, United Nations, and Interpol terrorism and no-fly list databases and United Kingdom’s Police National Computer.
“This new screening system holds great potential to strengthen security while significantly enhancing the travel experience whenever possible for passengers,” Pistole said.
The TSA describes the surrender of personal information as a “trade off” and warns that participating in the program does not necessarily mean travelers will avoid intrusive sexual molestation pat-downs or dangerous radiation-emitting body scanners.
The TSA said no one is guaranteed a quicker screening and that “random and unpredictable security steps” will still be used at the airports, according to the AP report.
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