No I.D., No Problem—Fly Away

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The great experiment in discovering exactly what are the parameters of anonymous flying in these here United States continues. This Wired story by Ryan Singel, an eyewitness and facilitator to the drama, tells of how Jim Harper, a member of the Department of Homeland Security's privacy advisory commission (and participant in a 2005 Reason debate on airline security issues), did succeed in flying out of San Francisco airport without an official state I.D. In fact, his gambit resulted in a much quicker move through security than merely lining up with the branded peons–read the whole story.

For guidance to Reason's voluminous past writings on the issues surrounding flying, security, and I.D., see this March Hit and Run post, containing within it many other links to follow, all duly signed by their actual authors, drivers licenses available upon request.

UPDATE: Of course, the not-showing-I.D. thing doesn't work out that well for everyone, as see this recent account from travel journalist Edward Hasbrouck, who ended up talking to cops at Dulles for daring to ask questions about the precise responsibilities and powers involved in showing I.D.s at airport checkpoints. Hat tip to our man Charles Oliver.

NEXT: Immigrants and Assimilation

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  1. Good thing he was white.

  2. Good point, dave b.

  3. Yeah it would have been a lot harder if were a young middle-eastern male.

  4. Yeah it would have been a lot harder if were a young middle-eastern male.

    I would hope so.

  5. I got searched for refusing to take off my shoes this weekend. I told the guy the next time he groped me I expected him to at least buy me a drink.

  6. Nothing gets the latex gloves on a TSA guy faster than non-compliance and jokes. You’re lucky that you didn’t wind up needing a hemorrhoid pillow on your flight.

  7. Yeah it would have been a lot harder if were a young middle-eastern male

    One of my friends from a college in the U.S. is of Armenian descent and is from Lebanon. He has a Lebanese, Saudi, and Canadian citizenships. When he comes back from x-mas vacation his luggage is searched. His luggage containes a note from DHS, it reads that his luggage was searched and DHS apologizes for it. Has anybody else gotten these notes while traveling within the Unites States?

    He has a harder time when he has to fly out of Europe (mainly the Netherlands). First he is forced to call a number (from a certain red phone) to tell them that he is ready to go to his gate. He is then escorted, searched and questioned extensively. It takes him hours to get through.

    He said it is a pain in the ass, but he usually laughs about it because of how stupid sercurity is. This happens to him all of the time.

  8. His luggage containes a note from DHS, it reads that his luggage was searched and DHS apologizes for it. Has anybody else gotten these notes while traveling within the Unites States?

    I get these pretty regularly.

    The sad thing is, flying used to be fun. Just entering into a situation where you’re forced to shut off your brain and not allowed to ask questions makes it a depressing experience.

    I want to see giant walk-through x-ray machines. Just walk through, that’s it.

  9. His luggage containes a note from DHS

    I’ve gotten notes from the TSA, but not DHS, and I would not exactly describe them as apologizing for searching.
    Bugs the crap out of me. Now I leave my dirty underwear on top so that’s the first thing they see.

  10. I’ve gotten notes from the TSA, but not DHS,

    Oops, now that you mention it, I’m not sure which the notes were from. But since TSA is part of DHS, I’m not sure it really matters.

  11. Not sure it matters either, Elvis, but I wondered if DHS was doing searches beyond what TSA is doing.

  12. The notes were defintely from DHS (the notes had the DHS symbol on the top right corner).

    I wondered if DHS was doing searches beyond what TSA is doing.

    Probably. My friend is always coming from another country (usually Lebanon) so maybe another agency of DHS searches his bags especially since he is young and middle eastern.

  13. The notes were defintely from DHS (the notes had the DHS symbol on the top right corner).

    I wondered if DHS was doing searches beyond what TSA is doing.

    Probably. My friend is always coming from another country (usually Lebanon) so maybe another agency of DHS searches his bags especially since he is young and middle eastern.

  14. I forget if the notes are from TSA or DHS, but they’re so patronizing. The ones I’ve found in my luggage have informed me that my bags had been searched for my safety. I was especially happy to find one after returning from a motorcycle event. I had carefully packed my helmet inside a special sock, and then put that inside my armored jacket and zipped the jacket up to protect the helmet from the baggage monkeys. “For my safety” the DHS or TSA or whichever bunch of assholes it was unpacked the whole shebang and then just stuffed the helmet back on top with the face shield pressed against a metal zipper. But what’s a few chips in the paint and $45 for a new face shield? At least I was safe, even if I didn’t know it until I got home.

  15. His luggage containes a note from DHS, it reads that his luggage was searched and DHS apologizes for it. Has anybody else gotten these notes while traveling within the Unites States?

    I live close enough to the US border that I fly within the States out of Buffalo (much easier to deal with Customs at the border, than at Toronto International) and I’ve had my luggage searched 8 out of the last 10 trips I’ve taken. Just a wee bit invasive, if you ask me. I often wonder if it’s because the address listed on my luggage is Canadian … you know, ’cause of all the pot we (allegedly) smuggle through airports.

    Next time I fly, I might fill one suitcase with nothing but anti-government books and magazines. Just for kicks.

  16. I’ve been following John Gilmore’s fight over airport identification since I found it on the Internet a couple months ago. And the Jim Harper story (though good to know if you’re running late for your flight) hasn’t changed my mind.

    Of all the people who bitch and moan about airport security, Gilmore had the convictions and the balls to fight back. I know having to show your ID at the airport is a small piece of the police-state puzzle. But the rest of the pieces include NSA surveillance of our phone calls and e-mails, and out-of-control private security people fondling your person before you’re admitted to an NFL football game, to name just a few.

    The fight to regain our rights has to be done incrementally. Thanks, John Gilmore.

  17. It’s not about terrorism, it’s about catching people with outstanding warrants who are trying to leave the state. This is police state policy. I’m sure this guy was forced to prove who he was some other way before they let him pass.

  18. The next time I fly, I’ll print out the 4th amendment in 48 point font and pack it so it’s the first thing they see when they open my luggage.

    Maybe I’ll also print out a few choice quotes from the Founders.

  19. thoreau,

    Perhaps you’d like to buy the Bill of Rights Security Edition.

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