Travelers are now being subjected to even more invasive screening procedures by the infamous Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Before “allowing” people to travel, the TSA is performing unwarranted checks of a wide variety of personal documents, going further than ever before into the lives of innocent passengers. As expected, Americans will roll over for the new intrusions and accept that they are necessary to protect the Homeland.
The new pre-screening procedure is more exhaustive than a federal background check. The TSA will now be dramatically expanding their reach into the lives of every passenger, and scouring all of the following documents, according to the New York Times:
- private employment information
- vehicle registrations
- travel history
- property ownership records
- physical characteristics
- tax identification numbers
- past travel itineraries
- law enforcement information
- “intelligence” information
- passport numbers
- frequent flier information
- other “identifiers” linked to DHS databases
“I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly,” said Edward Hasbrouck to the New York Times. Hasbrouck is a consultant to the Identity Project, one of the groups that oppose the prescreening initiatives. “The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion.”
What gives the TSA this authority? The constitution does not even provide for the TSA’s existence. In fact, the constitution ensures that the federal government will not perform these kinds of searches without probable cause or a warrant. Yet all day, every day, the agency devotes itself to performing warrantless searches of travelers. Its existence is a travesty, and its mission-creep is alarming (and predictable).
And what will the TSA do with this information? Nobody is explaining what criteria the agency will be looking for to indicate whether a passenger will be denied the right to travel. How can job history and vehicle registration possibly be relevant to flight safety? What happens if you have criminal convictions on your record? More groping?
Is owing taxes going to prevent people from flying? Actually, the NYT reports that the TSA will be reporting their findings to “a debt collection agency for the purpose of debt collection.”
For fun, compare the government’s disparate efforts in invading travelers’ privacy versus ensuring fair and proper voter registration.
The process is meant to be onerous. The only alternative that travelers are left with is to join the TSA’s “PreCheck” program and become a “trusted traveler.” This program allows passengers to willingly submit their biometric fingerprint scans into a FBI database, submit to a criminal background check, and pay the TSA a fee of $85.00 for a five-year PreCheck membership. RT reports that the TSA may net $255 Million hustling travelers in 2013. This option is still highly invasive, and actually enriches the very entity that is violating our liberties, so it hardly seems like a viable alternative.
Ask yourself: Is this how free people travel? Every trip is now turned into a personal investigation by the federal government. This might be reasonable research to do on inmates transferring between maximum security prisons, but not for people trying to travel between American cities.