Thursday, September 11, 2003

I know what list *I'll* be on

Fliers to be Rated for Risk Level

In the most aggressive -- and, some say, invasive -- step yet to protect air travelers, the federal government and the airlines will phase in a computer system next year to measure the risk posed by every passenger on every flight in the United States.

This has such a strong potential to be misused -- and, let's be honest, any 'system' designed by the Bush Administration I am honor-bound to distrust, I mean, c'mon we're talking about people who couldn't come up with an exit strategy for a war! -- especially since now it will be the reallyenjoyingbeingfaceless Government doing the screening instead of airlines, who were doing a good job, once upon a time.

They're going to waste time and money and scoop up shitloads of questionable information about people who fly, and make fucking macrame out of it. And then when something bad happens again (and this is the Real World, kids, bad things happen), will ask for more money to be even more invasive into your privacy. And once that information is on file somewhere, it'll be used against you, right or wrong. Right or wrong.

This is the stupid approach.

The smart approach is to say: what is the end goal?

Answer: keep explosives and other flammables, guns, and to a lesser extent, knives, off of planes.

Now. If you assign individual travelers 'threat levels' based on what you *think* you know about them, and bar or permit passage based on that assessment...have you achieved your goal?


If you require everyone who gets on a plane - regardless of last name, skin color, turban or lack thereof - to pass through a reasonable security check, you know, like, say, an x-ray machine and - oh, how about this - a metal detector, and maybe if you're worried about flammables, even something with a nose (I've heard of these...they're called *dogs*), would you achieve your stated goal?

And while I'm getting pissed off about this, let me point out the following:

I have a reasonable expectation of safety when I travel by air. That's all. Air travel is a private service, provided to private citizens. I expect guns and anything else that could blow a hole in the plane to be removed from traveler's carry-on bags before they board. I expect airline personnel to be well-trained in their jobs, and knowledgeable about safety and FAA regulations.

That's it.

And here's a final, radical thought for you: Now that air travel *security* is being nationalized, is air travel itself next?

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