CAPPS II Privacy War Quislings

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Bill Scannell, indefatigible founder of boycottdelta.org, is still on the trail of airlines who sell out passenger privacy to CAPPS II. The latest culprit, who copped to it in a Good Friday afternoon announcement, is American Airlines.

NEXT: More Security Theater from the UN

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  1. “Boy I sure am upset about the expansion of government powers except in the area of tracking airline passengers where I’m sure I can trust them to only go after the bad guys and keep me safe.”

    Cracking down on porn, blowing wads of money buying the votes of the useless baby boom generation, fighting the pointless and futile drug war — none of these things are good uses of government power. I don’t worry that John Ashcroft will “abuse his power” in pursuit of these goals; I worry that he’s pursuing the goals at all, because there’s NO upside to pursuing them.

    There’s plenty of upside to figuring out the identities and pasts of the people boarding a flying explosive device, which is why that doesn’t bother me at all. What is the worst possible thing that could happen to me as a result of CAPPS? Answer: I’ll be banned from ever flying, due to a a government mistake or a vindictive government official. Ok; I’ll take that risk, if it means that the odds of a terrorist getting on a plane with me are reduced by, say, five or ten percent. I’ll just drive where I need to go, instead.

    people like Dan who want the political affiliations of every passenger scrutinized, I’m sure

    And why not? There is no shortage of political organizations that advocate the mass murder of Americans. I see nothing wrong, either morally or Constitutionally, with forbidding members of any of them from boarding a plane in the United States — or, if they are noncitizens, from entering the country at all. Yes, it’s annoying that the government will scrutinize my political affiliation, but oh well.

    If you’re enough of an idiot to believe the government is capable of a process with >6-sigma quality

    Straw-man argument. I’m not asking for a government program that’s 99.999999% successful and I don’t expect one. However, a program that is, say, 50% successful at stopping stupid, crazy, or ill-prepared terrorists (which is, let’s remember, still most of them) is more than worthwhile if the only price we pay is some inconvenienced innocent people, or a lifetime ban on airline travel for all the members of the Brotherhood of the Universal Understanding that All Americans are Zionist Pigs.

  2. John Ashcroft keeps assuring us that the government isn’t abusing the vast powers it was given, and the lies keep coming out. Most businesses today will immediately roll over for any government demand, because they know that’s the way to get favors at someone else’s expense in the future.

    But to American’s credit, the article notes that it has changed its privacy policy to preclude sharing passenger information with the government — much to the disappointment of the people like Dan who want the political affiliations of every passenger scrutinized, I’m sure.

  3. Yeah, I think Dan’s statements are pretty contradictory. “Boy I sure am upset about the expansion of government powers except in the area of tracking airline passengers where I’m sure I can trust them to only go after the bad guys and keep me safe.”

  4. much to the disappointment of the people like Dan who want the political affiliations of every passenger scrutinized

    It’s the difference between trusting and not trusting the federal government. Anyone with half a brain wouldn’t trust it; throughout its history it has shown no cause to be trusted. With few exceptions, its detriments have always outweighed its value to society. So why anyone would trust it with more impertinent information to do its customary half-assed job is beyond me. The net effect of CAPPS is that we’ll keep normal American Muslims off of planes for having unpaid speeding tickets. The actual al Qaeda operatives, who work in cash, use aliases, and have little to no domestic record of note, will walk through with their forged RFID airline “quick pass” and get a front seat on a ride to hell.

  5. Of course, personally I consider the “boycott list” a list of airlines to definitely fly on.

    Ashcroft’s porn fixation royally pisses me off. Bush’s spending spree royally pisses me off. The almost-immediate expansion of post-9/11 government powers to cover the Drug War as well as terrorism, royally pisses me off. The fact that Bush seems to have made “sucking up to the Saudis” a key part of his War on Terrorism strategy royally pisses me off.

    Knowing that the government and the airlines are “conspiring” to find out who, exactly, is sitting next to me on board the “flying bomb” (aka 747) I ride home for the holidays… well, that just gives me the warm fuzzies.

    I’d very much like a list of airlines that *aren’t* doing all they can to identify the names, identities, political affiliations, and criminal histories of their passengers, so I can never fly on their airlines ever again.

  6. Yeah, better to lose a few planes than to let those bastards know who I am or inconvenience some muslims. Fuckin’ Nazis.

  7. Yeah, better to lose a few planes than to let those bastards know who I am or inconvenience some muslims. Frickin’ Nazis.

  8. Yeah, better to lose a few planes than to let those bastards know who I am or inconvenience some muslims.

    That is predicated on the unreasonable belief that CAPPS will keep armed terrorists from getting on the planes. If the process as a whole exhibits one failure that coincides with a terrorist with intent and means, that will be viewed by the entire country as a complete failure of the system as a whole. Given that the least data will be available on folks like al Qaeda operatives who, unlike most of us, go out of their way as a matter of continued existence to avoid being documented, the system is destined to fail.

    If you’re enough of an idiot to believe the government is capable of a process with >6-sigma quality, then CAPPS will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, just like it’s supposed to.

  9. On a far more basic level, Conor is relying on the vagues words of “let those bastards know who I am” to equivocate between identity checking (which is done for all flights) and turning passenger lists over to the government.

    Warm fuzzy thinking indeed.

  10. Your aircraft security choices:

    1. Search nobody.
    2. Search everybody.
    3. Search randomly.
    4. Search some people, on a subjective basis, at the whim of the screeners.
    5. Search some people, identified to be of higher security risk based on objective factors, using uniform, easily applied rules to determine who gets searched.

    CAPPS is an attempt to do #5. I would have thought that if there have to be any searches, then eliminating the risk of abuse, or the shot-in-the-dark nature of random searches would be the most civil liberties friendly approach. Evidently I was wrong.

    Got any better ideas?

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