Back in November 2009 I blogged about a man arrested at a TSA checkpoint at Albuquerque Airport for refusing to present his identification to TSA agents.
He was charged with:
- concealing identity
- disorderly conduct
- refusing to obey an officer
- criminal trespass
His court date has finally arrived.
It’s one thing to discuss the freedom of Americans to travel outside the United States, as I did in a recent Cuban travel post, but I literally weep for America whenever I see stories like this.
While an airline has a legitimate interest in insuring that a passengers’ identity matches their boarding card, I find it vile that a government agency can require proper documentation to travel internally within the United States. This is not even a post about the security theater the TSA engages in–that’s beside the point here. While Congress has decided the TSA should "keep us safe" by screening all passengers, I find no coherent rationale for the TSA requiring the presentation of identification, as if passing through a metal detector and having our luggage screened is not enough. Does the Privileges and Immunities Clause mean anything anymore?
If the TSA’s fancy equipment is really able to protect us from harm, there should be no need for the presentation of identification and especially the denial of access to the airport if we refuse to identify ourselves to government officials.
I know, believe me I know, that some of you are getting sick of TSA rants, but they are not going to stop. They are only going to intensify as our civil liberties continued to be eroded by a counterproductive agency and department that (and it takes some charity to say this) is severely misguided in its vision of promoting safety and security in the U.S.
While I agree with you on many matters surrounding the TSA and security policy, I have to disagree with you here. If we do not verify the identity of the person with the ticket, then the no-fly list would be useless. A terrorist could easily purchase a ticket under a false name and avoid any red flags that the no-fly list would cause. Not requiring identity essentially forces good intelligence to become vague intelligence (My capstone course in undergrad was National Security Policy, from a former CIA analyst). This is a simple and non-invasive level of security that prevents much more invasive screening, and is one of the most reliable methods that we currently use (yes I know someone could get a fake ID, but a good one is usually worth more effort than they are currently using to smuggle contraband through security.
Also, this is the least invasive security procedure we use, as it is not even a full search. We require identification to enter certain establishments, and really this is no different, especially since there are procedures in place where someone can verify their identity if they happen to have lost/forgot their ID.
Nick: What is the evidence that the no-fly list is “reliable” or effective? As far as I can tell it is neither, creating a huge number of false positives and being easily circumvented with a fake id.
@Nick: I hear your argument, but have to echo Marcus’s point above. I think the No-Fly list is already useless, as the late Senator Kennedy would attest. As I’ll blog about once I get settled in a couple weeks, TSA ID checks are also becoming much less invasive (i.e. random ID checks in airport gate areas).
And fundamentally, I just don’t get it–everyone has to go through an invasive security check. Why isn’t that enough? Airlines should already be checking ID (which certainly can be difficult with OLCI I realize)–it is not the government’s job.
And while it’s true that we are required to present ID to enter certain establishments, such as school events or night clubs (for example), I would distinguish those instances from the government controlling the free movement of citizens within the United States without probable cause.
I know they have the legal right to do it (I have studied a bit of criminal procedure) and I know ID checks are less invasive than other TSA procedures, I just don’t think they are proper or necessary.
We’ll have to agree to disagree on this point.