Due Process Vanishes In Thin Air

from the you-can't-get-on-the-don't-fly-list,-but-you-can't-get-off dept

I’ve been travelling a lot recently, and gone through numerous airport security checks – some much more thorough than others. I don’t know if I feel any safer, though. Clearly, the government is trying to make the process of flying safer – but I’m beginning to wonder how much is just window-dressing, and how much is actually helping. As they have in the past, they seem to be missing the point that “more data isn’t better data”. The latest example of this is the “no fly” list they’ve provided airports that means some people are delayed ridiculous lengths of time, just because they have a similar name to a potential suspect. There is, apparently, no way off this list – no matter how many times you’ve proven you’re not the suspect in question. Some people say they need to get the FBI’s permission before they can board a flight, while others need to get to the airport 4 hours ahead of any flight, knowing that they’re going to be detained. I have no problem, whatsoever, with making the friendly skies safer – but, reading stories like this make you realize just how badly we’ve gone about this process. There’s a difference between having “smarter information” and having “more information”, and it seems that the Transportation Security Administration hasn’t figured this out yet.

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Comments on “Due Process Vanishes In Thin Air”

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Bish says:

El Al

Say what you will, but I’m told that El Al (?), the Israeli airline, has it all figured out. I guess their precarious position and history gives them a bit of an excuse, but I’m thinking that I’d almost not mind.

– apparently they’ve got undercover people on every flight. Don’t be alarmed, that buy’s not a terrorist. You don’t see him.

– Fliers will surrender their passport 2 days in advance of the flight for background analysis. Your passport will be returned as you board (just make sure you look like your photo).

– Gate staff may indeed carry sidearms, and are trained in lethal force. Everyone stay calm, and don’t lift your arms or run through the airport.

Okay, so it’s a bit extreme. But it’s also uniform security, regardless of origin country, appearance, name or religion, and apparently, since they stopped fooling around about it all, they’ve had very few incidents (L-A-X not included, although I count that barely on the plus side).

But isn’t that what we need? We’re no longer going to get back to reasonable delays in airports, but we can at least get to a shape where it’s uniform annoyance where certain people aren’t unnecessarily burdened because they happen to be named Ahmed.

Don’t take my word for it, too – I’m just going by rumours, and I’ve been flying puddle-jumper airlines for the last year: I show up about 10 minutes before my flight, wait for the pilot to wander by and announce that the 11:AM flight is taking off and that the Yellow Card holding passengers can follow him out to the docks, and off we go.

If only the doctor’s experiment worked and he didn’t turn himself into a fly.

dorpus says:

Will it last forever?

People talk about threats as if they will exist forever, but they have a way of disappearing and being forgotten. Nobody gets bomb shelter cards anymore. We don’t have air raid drills in schools. For all the posturing about airport security, nobody has talked about removing lockers; that was a big thing back in the 1970s when some Puerto Rican terrorists planted bombs in airport lockers. Avoiding salad bars were a big thing after Rajneesh’s followers dumped botox into a salad bar in Oregon in the early 80s, but nobody is talking about it now. Somebody poisoned starbucks chocolate in the mid-90s, but no precautions are being taken now. The AIDS panic of the 80s spawned the culture of rubber gloves, toilet seat covers, avoiding sex at all costs, but unsafe sex has since made a comeback. The SARS panic going on now, which is no more likely to kill people than a bad flu, has jewellers cancelling shows in Switzerland. Totally irrational.

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