Bush Administration at Its Finest

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Which, truth be told, isn't very fine if you are mistakenly added to the Do Not Fly List. Terrorism Theater, in other words. Style without substance.


A government program set up to remove innocent people from terrorism no-fly and watch lists has been ineffective and riddled with problems, travelers and congressional leaders say.

The Department of Homeland Security's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, or TRIP, was started almost a year ago to clear people routinely subjected to extra airport-security screening and even detention simply because their names were confused with those on the government's voluminous terrorism watch lists. The lists now contain more than 700,000 records and include many names as common as John Thompson and James Wilson.

But travelers say TRIP has done little to ease their security hassles. They complain that government officials have been unresponsive and offer little information even when they do answer inquiries. And travelers who have been told they have been placed on a "cleared" list find themselves still subjected to added security procedures, unable to pre-print boarding passes for airline flights or use kiosks at airports, for example. Then, after waiting in line to check in, they find themselves trapped in a Catch-22 of long waits while supervisors probe their identity and status on the "cleared" list -- just to avoid the delay of being selected for additional screening at checkpoints.

[From The Middle Seat - WSJ.com]
[Digg-enabled link to access complete story here]

And, the list is so 'secure' that one can avoid it by using one's middle name instead. Lovely.

Jason Steele, a technology contractor in Colorado, discovered his name was on the watch list about four years ago and fought to get a letter from TSA clearing his name. The letter didn't stop him from getting tagged as a "selectee" when he flew, so he applied again through TRIP and received notice that he had already been cleared. "I don't think that clearance does a darn thing for you," he says.

He has gotten some relief from UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, which has identified Mr. Steele as cleared through his frequent-flier number, allowing him to check in online, use United's kiosks and avoid extra screening. On other airlines, Mr. Steele has learned that if he flies under his middle name, he doesn't get stopped.
Officials familiar with security procedures say much of the problem with misidentifying people comes from imperfect data in airline reservation systems trying to match up with imperfect data on government watch lists.

Government lists cast a very wide net by including many varieties of spellings and aliases for the same person. Yet many airlines don't include middle names or even gender in reservations, increasing the likelihood of false matches. That also makes the "cleared" list ineffectual if government lists a full legal name and airlines don't. And differences in how airlines handle reservations can mean travelers get stopped for extra screening on some carriers and not others.
I'm waiting for my teleportation device to get its patent first.

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I really enjoy reading your blog, it always has great insight. But I am very frustrated with the media’s lack of questions to the presidential candidates about global warming. Now that it is down to just a few candidates I would think that this would be a bigger issue.

Live Earth just picked up this topic and put out an article ( http://www.liveearth.org/news.php ) asking why the presidential candidates are not being solicited for their stance on the issue of the climate change. I just saw an article describing each candidate’s stance on global warming and climate change on earthlab.com http://www.earthlab.com/articles/PresidentialCandidates.aspx . So obviously they care about it. Is it the Medias fault for not asking the right questions or is it the candidates’ fault for not highlighting the right platforms? Does anyone know of other websites or articles that touch on this subject and candidates’ views? This is the biggest problem of the century and for generations to come…you would think the next president of the United States would be more vocal about it.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 31, 2008 4:43 PM.

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