Fly No More, My Lady [Sep 11, 2003]
On this, the second anniversary of the most tragic day in American history, as our soldiers continue to die in Iraq and the creepy visage of Osama bin Laden taunts us again, it's important to recognize that the Bush Administration is doing everything it can to keep us safe by restarting a program to prohibit innocent people from flying on commerical airlines based on a computer-generated "risk" list.
Yes, that's right. CAPPS II, the program you sort of heard about this spring and early summer when it received a modest amount of scrutiny in Congress, is underway. This week, in conjunction with a creepy computerized reservations company called Galileo, Delta Airlines became the testing ground for an almost unthinkable violation of our civil rights.
Details can be found here, but to summarize, if you book a ticket through Galileo, the company will send your information to the federal government, which will then open up a file on you, run a criminal background check, and determine, based on whatever information you've accumulated, if you're a "threat." They will then assign you a threat color for when you get to the airport. If you're "Green," then you'll pass through security as normal. "Yellows" will undergo additional background checks. "Reds" will never be allowed to fly again.
The government isn't legally obligated to tell you how you've been classified or why. The Transportation Security Administration doesn't even require that any of the private databases they use to "screen" people contain accurate information, just as the Justice Department has exempted their warrant database from being accurate.
I'm going to quote from this excellent website, Don't Spy On Us: "CAPPS II is nothing less than a Soviet-style system of internal border controls. An incredible invasion of privacy, the system is un-American and un-Constitutional." Amen to that. If you're as angry about this as I am, go here to take constructive action.
I don't even have the energy to make a joke about what color code the bin Laden and the Saudi royal families would have been assigned if this system had been in place two years ago. The hypocrisy of the War On Terror never ceases to astound me. The mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing roams free and disseminates his hate propaganda at will, while regular Americans are left to wonder if they're going to be arrested for the crime of purchasing a ticket to San Diego.
Happy September 11, everyone.
This fucking government. I swear.