Airline I.D. Requirements Do Exist…

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…but no, we still can't know exactly what they are, the government says in a filing in the ongoing John Gilmore lawsuit challenging the till-now secret law. As Wired.com reports:

Justice Department lawyers also argued that Gilmore cannot challenge the requirement because it is not a law, it is a law enforcement technique.

"The identification-or-search requirement is simply a technique used to detect possible violations of the law, such as the prohibition on carrying a weapon or explosive onto the plane," they wrote. "While passengers have a right to know the law (that they cannot bring weapons on board), they have no due process entitlement to advance notice of how the Government might attempt to discover whether the law is being broken."

[Gilmore's lawyer William] Simpich dismissed that argument as absurd doublespeak.

"Drugs are against the law," Simpich said. "So blowing through your house to look for drugs is a law enforcement technique that you can't challenge, either."

Reason's feature article by me from our Aug./Sept. 2003 issue on phase one of Gilmore's fight here; an update on round two, also from me, here.

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  1. “Drugs are against the law,” Simpich said. “So blowing through your house to look for drugs is a law enforcement technique that you can’t challenge, either.”

    Why, oh why do these loudmouth lawyers give the cops ideas like this? “Hey, let’s call it a law-enforcement technique!” Maybe their copies of the constitution don’t have the Fourth Amendment like mine does…

  2. “The identification-or-search requirement is simply a technique used to detect possible violations of the law, such as the prohibition on carrying a weapon or explosive onto the plane,”

    So if I refuse to show ID, but can otherwise prove that I’m not breaking any laws, I’ll be allowed on the plane?

    Yeah, right.

  3. Well, I think it IS the ‘identification OR search’ requirement, and they allow people to get on the plane with no ID after a double-thorough* search or somesuch.

    * (humorous aside) Not to be confused with the infamous ‘double-thoreau’ search where two physics grad students work you over…

  4. Non-sequitor:

    One of the things that struck me as interesting when I read the “9/11 Commission’s” report was there discussion of counter-terrorism efforts being underfunded and underserved in comparison to the robust enforcement of federal drug laws in the 1990s. I think someone could really fisk the federal government’s drug commercials by highlighting this fact.

  5. double thoreau search? That would be the really high tech search where we use equipment that can see through your clothes. We only use it on the pretty girls, of course. Although the technology eliminates the need for a pat-down, we don’t tell that to the hot women. “Ma’am, we’ll need to search you. Something set off our alarms.”

    Seriously, though, I’ve never understood this case. Whatever one might think of the merits of an ID requirement (or a lack thereof), I somehow doubt that a judge would rule against it if the gov’t simply showed the judge a law or regulation or whatever. The case should have gone something like this.

    Gilmore: They search me even though there’s no law on the books saying they can.

    Gov’t: Your honor, the search was done pursuant to regulation # such-and-such of US code such-and-such under the authority of the department of such-and-such special security division. Here’s the paper.

    Gilmore: But that violates my privacy!

    Judge: The court finds that the rule is reasonable. Case dismissed.

    I know, I’m not a lawyer, I’m sure there’d be more to it than that, but that’s what it would have boiled down to. The judge would undoubtedly have found an ID requirement to be reasonable. (Yes, I know, some people would say that it isn’t, but I’m not commenting on the merits of the rule, I’m just observing that a judge would, however rightly or wrongly, leave the rule alone.)

    Instead, however, the gov’t suddenly gets all secretive and refuses to tell the judge where it’s written that Gilmore can be searched. And the judge apparently wants to get this case over with, but she can’t find a rule to be reasonable if it’s a secret that nobody can know about. So she’s stuck hearing this case that she normally would have dismissed outright, and the executive branch is making her life difficult by not coughing up a simple little piece of paper that says “Pursuant to rule such-and-such of the snooze-and-snore act, all passengers boarding a flight will have to present suitable ID, yadda yadda yadda.”

    I want to know what the hell is wrong with the gov’t lawyers running this case.

  6. thoreau, the gov’t lawyers running this case work for The Administration of We-Ain’t-Gonn-Tell-Ya.

    I think if you asked the White House tour guides what color the TP in the Oval Office WC is, they’d tell you it’s a national security secret.

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