Sometimes I’m a Trusted Traveler, Other Times I May Be a Terrorist

The TSA’s ability to predict which travelers are terrorists and which are not is apparently so good that not only can they identify which people are possibly terrorists, but they can also predict whether those people are in a “terrorist mood” before a particular flight, or are feeling rather non-mass murder-y that day. Much like rhythm-method birth control, being able to pick out “safe days” vs. “unsafe days” allows minimal inconvenience for all parties.

For example, on January 23rd, I was definitely not in touch with my inner jihadi, and so the TSA assigned me Pre-Check status…

Ticket with TSA Pre-Check Endorsement
Ticket with TSA Pre-Check Endorsement

This morning when I woke up, I didn’t even realize that I was feeling like causing some trouble. But luckily, the TSA did, and so they assigned me “selectee” status to dissuade me from bringing any bombs on board…

Ticket with “Selectee” Indicator

If you’re not familiar, the infamous “SSSS” stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection, and is applied to travelers that are on the “Selectee List” (kinda like the “No Fly” list, except they let you fly after petting your genitals before every flight), travelers who trigger an algorithm by doing such things as buying a one-way flight in cash on the day of departure (because Al Qaida can’t afford a round-trip ticket), or at random. It’s unclear why SSSS was assigned to me today or what effect this has for a boarding pass issued at an international airport, as Stockholm didn’t seem keen to treat me any differently, but I for one can’t wait to see what harassment I get when I land in New York.

Obviously I’m being facetious in suggesting that the TSA has the technology to determine which days a dangerous individual might decide to do something bad (and, for the dense within DHS, any suggestion that on some days I might be a terrorist or consider carrying bombs on a plane is also sarcasm). If on some days we’re saying people are trusted enough that they don’t have to take off their shoes, don’t have to take electronics out for separate x-raying, don’t have to go through a body scanner, and are screened using a metal detector calibrated to be less sensitive than usual, but on other days require the most vigorous of security screening, is the system not completely broken?

As far as keeping us secure, it is certainly broken. But is the Pre-Check system really designed to keep us secure, or is it simply to funnel rich people — that is, people with the most influence over the political process — through easier security such that they may continue treating the 99% like cattle without political repercussions?

28 thoughts on “Sometimes I’m a Trusted Traveler, Other Times I May Be a Terrorist

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  1. The US people are indeed cattle. The us public are horrible Christian dhimmi childbeaters who vote the most venal leaders the world has ever seen into office. Its not any system that is broken, its the people of the USA.

  2. PINAC Correspondent Found Guilty Of Holding Up Signs Critical of The TSA And IRS, Plans to Appeal

    PINAC correspondent Michale Hoffman was arrested in August while standing on the property of Jacksonville International Airport holding up signs that were critical of the government, including TSA and the IRS.

    “The state convinced the jury that I didn’t have to break any law to be trespassed,” Hoffman said.

    “That they had the authority to trespass me even if I did not do anything wrong.”

  3. Journalist Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years of Airport Detentions and Searches:

    During frequent travel from 2006 to 2012 for work on her documentary films, Poitras was detained at the U.S. border every time she entered the country.

    During these detentions, she was told by airport security agents that she had a criminal record (even though she does not), that her name appeared on a national security threat database, and, on one occasion, that she was on the U.S. government’s No Fly List. She’s had her laptop, camera, mobile phone, and reporter notebooks seized and their contents copied, and was once threatened with handcuffing for taking notes during her detention after border agents said her pen could be used as a weapon. The searches were conducted without a warrant and often without explanation, and no charges have ever been brought against Poitras.

    After years of targeting by security agents, Poitras last year filed FOIA requests for records naming or relating to her, including case files, surveillance records, and counterterrorism documents. But the agencies have either said they have no records, denying or ignoring her appeals for further searches, or haven’t responded at all to her requests. For example, the FBI, after not responding to Poitras’ FOIA request for a year, said in May it had located only six pages relevant to the request—and that it was withholding all six pages because of grand jury secrecy rules.

    “The government used its power to detain people at airports, in the name of national security, to target a journalist whose work has focused on the effects of the U.S. war on terror,” said David Sobel, EFF senior counsel. “In refusing to respond to Poitras’ FOIA requests and wrongfully withholding the documents about her it has located, the government is flouting its responsibility to explain and defend why it subjected a law-abiding citizen—whose work has shone a light on post-9/11 military and intelligence activities—to interrogations and searches every time she entered her country.”


  4. Expert critique of European travel surveillance and profiling plans:

    The expert report to the Council of Europe marks a breakthrough in the “post-Snowden” understanding of the nature and significance of government demands for PNR data. The report reframes the PNR debate from being an issue of privacy and data protection to being part of a larger debate about suspicionless surveillance and pre-crime profiling. The report also focuses the attention of European citizens, travellers, and policy-makers on the decisions made (in whole or in part) on the basis of PNR data: decisions to subject travellers to search, interrogation, or the total denial of transportation (”no-fly” orders).

    The report specifically cites the Kafkaesque case of Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim as an example of the way that decisions made on such a basis tend to evade judicial review or effective redress.


  5. Border police begin year long pilot to fingerprint non-citizens at airport departure gates:

    The Department of Homeland Security is set to begin a biometric identification exit pilot program at ten major US airports, targeted at specific classes of non-US citizens. Under the pilot, which will last one year, Customs Border Protection agents will stand at departure gates at select airports and “utilize wireless handheld devices to collect biographic and biometric information from certain aliens upon departure, biometrically record their departure, and screen their biometric data against a DHS biometric database in real time,” according to a DHS general notice in the federal register.

    Since 2004, DHS has been collecting biometric information from non-US citizens entering the United States through US airports, seaports, and some land border checkpoints. The new program aims to double down on biometric data capture upon exit, looking for people wanted by the government, anyone on watch lists, or those who have overstayed their visas. Notably, the notice states that any person identified by the director of the CIA as exempt will be immune from the extra screening.

    CBP will conduct the so-called “BE-Mobile Air Test” biometric exit screening pilot at the following airports, collecting fingerprint and possibly other biometric information from certain passengers, at the discretion of CBP officers:
    Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California;
    San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California;
    Miami International Airport, Miami, Florida;
    Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia;
    Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois;
    Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark, New Jersey;
    John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, New York;
    Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas, Texas;
    George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas; and
    Washington Dulles International Airport, Sterling, Virginia.

    Click to access 2015-18418.pdf

  6. TSA Security coming to movie theaters: Police state America invades movie theaters

    DHS wants TSA like security in EVERY movie theater in America!

    The American police state has invaded our movie theaters! Movie theaters are doing their part keeping Americans in fear!

    AMC Theaters has begun running a “safety” message that says: “If you happen to see any suspiciously strange characters or bad agendas, report them to our crew.”

    AMC’s “safety” message is really DHS’s “See Something Say Something” spying program that’s turned our neighbors into spies!

    Watch out that kid stuffing his face with popcorn and candy is suspicious that kid keeps fidgeting and leaving their seat every 20 minutes and could be a terrorist! This is the absurd reality of living in Police State America!

    Read More:

  7. Rutherford Institute Sues the TSA Over Virtual Strip Searches, Unregulated Use of Whole Body Imagers at Airports:

    The Rutherford Institute has filed a lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) over its unregulated use of whole body scanners, which have been likened to virtual strip searches, in the nation’s airports. The TSA implemented Whole Body Imagers (WBI) (also referred to as Advanced Imaging Technology) in 2009 as a primary security screening tool in airports. However, the agency did not notify the public of its decision to deploy the scanners, nor did it ask for public comments on use of the use of WBI technology as required by federal law.

    In a petition for a writ of mandamus filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, The Rutherford Institute, joined by other civil liberties advocates, argues that the TSA has flouted federal law and court orders in order to shield the agency’s WBI scanning practices from public input and judicial review. The Rutherford Institute is joined as co-petitioners by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in asking the court to compel the TSA to issue formal rules regulating the use of WBI subject those standards to public examination and judicial review.

    We are the unwitting victims of a system so corrupt that those who stand up for the rule of law and aspire to transparency in government are in the minority. This corruption is so vast it spans all branches of government, from the power-hungry agencies under the executive branch and the corporate puppets within the legislative branch to a judiciary that is, more often that not, elitist and biased towards government entities and corporations. The whole body imaging scanners are a perfect example of this collusion between corporate lobbyists and government officials,” said John W. Whitehead. “‘We the people’ have not done the best job of holding our representatives accountable or standing up for our rights. But something as invasive as these scanners certainly shouldn’t be forced on the American public without the absolute assurance that it will not harm our health or undermine our liberties. At a minimum, the TSA should be required to establish rules governing the use and deployment of these scanners and have those regulations vetted by the public.”


  8. Secret details worse than TSA’s 96% fail rate:

    Here is what the public already knows: TSA failed to stop undercover individuals from smuggling weapons and explosives past checkpoints 67 times out of 70 attempts.

    The publicly available facts are disturbing, but the classified details are even worse. Millions of families will soon fly to summer vacations, but if moms knew what members of Congress have learned behind closed doors, they would march on Washington.

    The administration needs to responsibly declassify what its members know.

    Transportation Security Administrator Peter Neffenger told Congress that the department will begin retraining thousands of airport security screeners and place new limits on a TSA program that allows travelers to pass through an expedited security screening.

    “My highest priority is to ensure solutions to the recent covert testing failures,” said Neffenger at a hearing conducted by the House of Representatives. “This is a huge concern and it greatly disturbs me that we had that failure at the checkpoint.”

    “These findings shatter public confidence,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chariman of the House Homeland Security Committee, during the hearing. “A reported 96 percent failure rate to detect explosives is completely unacceptable.”

  9. Why the TSA lawsuit against whole body imagers concerns everyone:

    As evidenced by my recent story “police state America invades movie theaters,” metal detectors and TSA patdowns could soon be the norm in movie theaters and malls across the country. DHS wants TSA like security in EVERY movie theater in America!

    What are you going to do? Put security guards with guns everywhere,” Steve Cooper threw out the idea but was not for it. He added, “I don’t want that.”

    This is the same TSA that just declared a book might be a BOMB!

    “We had a large group with a large number of bags to be checked and because of a certain item in those bags there was additional screening necessary,” said Bill Begley with Hobby Airport.

    That “certain item” was a sorority convention souvenir booklet!


  10. Isn’t your case against TSA’s pornoscanners over and done with? If it is, would you considering changing the words attached to the donation request link in the upper right section of your site?

  11. DHS works with movie theaters to search your handbags and backpacks:

    The Regal Entertainment Group – the nation’s largest movie theater chain just added a bag and purse check policy as a so-called security measure in some of its theaters, which undoubtedly will include every theater soon!

    Regal Entertainment’s website uses public safety as a reason to ILLEGALLY search everyone’s handbag, backpacks etc.

    “Security issues have become a daily part of our lives in America. Regal Entertainment Group wants our customers and staff to feel comfortable and safe when visiting or working in our theatres. To ensure the safety of our guests and employees, backpacks and bags of any kind are subject to inspection prior to admission. We acknowledge that this procedure can cause some inconvenience and that it is not without flaws, but hope these are minor in comparison to increased safety.”

    Jim Davis, a public safety expert who served as Homeland Security advisor to Governor John Hickenlooper promises soon EVERYONE will be TSA searched at movie theaters…


  12. TSA airport style searches on all Amtrak trains!

    Our government is stepping up its plans to search EVERYONE, ANYWHERE, whether you’re travelling by air, rail, ferry or bus.

    Beginning this week and almost four years since writers warned Americans that our government wants to search people on trains, its finally become a reality!

    The Baltimore Sun reported Amtrak will begin searching all passengers: “Passengers failing to consent to security procedures will be denied access to trains.”

    “I don’t know if that level of security we have at airports would be practical at train stations,” said Vernon Herron, University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security. “Washington DC and New York City—our financial district and our seat of power in Washington DC. Those types of targets are always going to be on their radar.”

    What does this mean for anyone taking a government train (Amtrak)? It means EVERYONE will be subjected to airline style boarding procedures. In Europe, you won’t find pre-boarding ticket checks on any international intercity train line except Eurostar (between London and Paris, for border control purposes). By importing the security theater of air travel, DHS, sorry I mean Amtrak will treat EVERYONE like a suspected terrorist!


  13. DOJ Dismisses Case After Court Explains That Feds Can’t Just Grab Someone’s Laptop At The Border:

    The case involved a guy named Jae Shik Kim, who the government suspected was shipping items to China that were then being forwarded to Iran. Because of that, DHS grabbed his laptop as he was leaving the US (on a flight to Korea). The DOJ argued that the laptop was a “container” subject to search at the border. The court disabused the DOJ of this notion:

    After considering all of the facts and authorities set forth above, then, the Court finds, under the totality of the unique circumstances of this case, that the imaging and search of the entire contents of Kim’s laptop, aided by specialized forensic software, for a period of unlimited duration and an examination of unlimited scope, for the purpose of gathering evidence in a pre-existing investigation, was supported by so little suspicion of ongoing or imminent criminal activity, and was so invasive of Kim’s privacy and so disconnected from not only the considerations underlying the breadth of the government’s authority to search at the border, but also the border itself, that it was unreasonable.

    Given an opportunity to respond, the DOJ has dropped the entire case.

    The United States, by and through its attorney, the Acting United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, respectfully moves this Court to dismiss the Indictment against the defendants. As grounds for this motion, the government states the following: in a Memorandum Opinion and Order, filed on May 8, 2015, the Court granted the defendants’ motion to suppress evidence, and the government has decided not to pursue an appeal of that decision. Accordingly, the government is unable to continue prosecuting this matter, and we therefore move the Court to dismiss the Indictment pending against the defendants.

    Yup. Next time, maybe don’t violate the 4th Amendment.


  14. Price for TSA’s failed body scanners: $160 million.

    The $160 million bill includes $120 million for the body scanners now in place in hundreds of airports nationwide, according to newly disclosed figures obtained by POLITICO. The rest of the money went to the agency’s “naked” X-ray scanners, which it pulled from airports two years ago amid worries about health risks and the devices’ detailed images of travelers’ bodies.
    The cost breakdown, which the TSA recently turned over to some members of Congress, provides the latest look at the agency’s investment in body imaging technology since it decided to make the scanners the centerpiece of the checkpoint screening process. The price tag averages more than $150,000 per unit since the agency bought the first batch of 45 devices in 2008.

    And for that money, lawmakers privy to classified reports say, the TSA has gotten a woeful failure rate. Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson has such low confidence in the scanners’ ability to catch explosives and weapons that he says the agency should make fliers walk through metal detectors after passing through the body imaging machines.

    “If you really want to keep using those, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t, at a minimum we should put a metal detector on the other side,” the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview. “Why not go through two? You’ve just gotta use common sense.”


  15. Border Patrol Agent Forwarded All Emails To Someone Else’s Gmail; Only Discovered When ‘Civilian’ Responded:

    Intercept reporter Jenna McLaughlin alerts us to a rather stunning security mistake by a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agent, as outlined in some DHS released “incident reports” concerning “cloud data breaches.” The very first one involves the CBP agent forwarding all of his email to a personal account, but messing up the configuration, so that it actually forwarded to someone else’s Gmail account (someone with a similar name) — and this mistake was only noticed when this “civilian” responded to an email he had received via this forwarding, and the response was sent to a wider mailing list of Homeland Security employees:

    Read More:

  16. In the wrong place at the wrong time? You might end up on the no-fly list:

    If you exercise your right to travel, will the US government use your past travel as the basis for denying you the right to travel in the future?

    Reading between the lines of the redacted public versions of recent filings in one of the ongoing legal challenges to US government no-fly orders, the answer appears to be, “Yes”.

    Merely having visited the “wrong” place at the “wrong” time (as subsequently and secretly determined by the precogs who devise the government’s algorithms for predicting future terrorist behavior) can be sufficient to get you put on the no-fly list.

    Did you visit Yemen in 2009? Now you might be on the no-fly list — for that reason, and maybe that alone.

    Case in point: US citizen, US Army veteran, and former civilian military contractor Raymond Knaeble. In 2010, Mr. Knaeble was stranded abroad (at the time, he was visiting his wife’s family in Colombia) when he was denied boarding on a flight back to the US. He later became one of the plaintiffs in Latif v. Holder, a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and other cooperating counsel in Portland, Oregon.

    After judges hearing that case and the case of Gulet Mohammed in Virginia both ruled that the procedures for issuing secret administrative no-fly orders were unconstitutional because they failed to afford US citizens due process of law, the government tried to give itself a “do over” in the form of new “No-Fly 2.0″ procedures. The government asked the judges hearing both of these cases to postpone their decisions, or to reconsider them after the plaintiffs had jumped through a new round of kangaroo-court administrative “review” of whether they should be prevented from flying.


  17. Lockpickers 3-D Print TSA Master Luggage Keys From Leaked Photos

    The TSA is learning a basic lesson of physical security in the age of 3-D printing: If you have sensitive keys—say, a set of master keys that can open locks you’ve asked millions of Americans to use—don’t post pictures of them on the Internet.

    A group of lock-picking and security enthusiasts drove that lesson home Wednesday by publishing a set of CAD files to Github that anyone can use to 3-D print a precisely measured set of the TSA’s master keys for its “approved” locks—the ones the agency can open with its own keys during airport inspections. Within hours, at least one 3-D printer owner had already downloaded the files, printed one of the master keys, and published a video proving that it opened his TSA-approved luggage lock.

    Those photos first began making the rounds online last month, after the Washington Post unwittingly published (and then quickly deleted) a photo of the master keys in an article about the “secret life” of baggage in the hands of the TSA. It was too late. Now those photos have been used to derive exact cuts of the master keys so that anyone can reproduce them in minutes with a 3-D printer or a computer-controlled milling machine.

    “Honestly I wasn’t expecting this to work, even though I tried to be as accurate as possible from the pictures. I did this for fun and don’t even have a TSA-approved lock to test,” writes Xylitol, the Github user who published the files, in an email to WIRED. Xylitol, who noted that he was based in France, declined to reveal his real name. “But if someone reported it that my 3D models are working, well, that’s cool, and it shows…how a simple picture of a set of keys can compromise a whole system.”

  18. Get ready for tougher ID to travel by air:

    If you don’t have an Enhanced Driver’s License or passport, and plan to travel by air next year later, you will have to get one of those documents before you can take off.

    It’s all about Homeland Security, and New York’s standard driver’s license might not cut it, when those new regulations take effect.

    The law known as the REAL ID Act is designed to protect federal facilities from terrorist attacks, and it narrows acceptable forms of identification down to those with security features like the safeguards in your passport.

    REAL ID became law in 2005, but its provisions have been phased in over a 10-year period.

    For the rest of 2015, you can still use your driver’s license as identification on flights within the United States, but sometime next year, Homeland Security is set to change that, and will require enhanced ID on all commercial flights–foreign and domestic.

    Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs points out, the state spent an additional $38 million, two years ago, to upgrade driver’s license security features, which seem to be coming up short.

    “Their rationale for it,” said Jacobs, “was because they needed to be compliant with the REAL ID Act, the federal act that is coming in to force. Now we are finding that the new driver’s license is not compliant, so you can’t use it, and you will still have to pay for an Enhanced Driver’s License.”


  19. How No-Fly Lists Are Used to Punish Political Protesters:

    You might think that the no-fly list is old news, a relic of the panicked early days following the 9/11 attacks. In fact, as recently as 2012, there were still more than 21,000 names on the list, and it seems unlikely to have gotten any shorter since then, though we do know of at least four names that, with some legal prodding from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), were recently removed from it: Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, Naveed Shinwari, and Awais Sajjad. All four men were American citizens or permanent residents who ended up on the list as retaliation for refusing to become FBI informers and tell tales on their neighbors and others in Muslim communities in this country. For years, they could not visit wives, children, or ailing relatives in countries like Pakistan and Yemen.

    According to a suit filed by the CCR in 2014, as reported by Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic, Jameel Algibhah’s troubles began in 2009, when he refused the FBI’s request to infiltrate a mosque in Queens, New York. The legal complaint continues:

    “When Mr. Algibhah declined to do so, the agents then asked Mr. Algibhah to participate in certain online Islamic forums and ‘act like an extremist.’ When Mr. Algibhah again declined, the agents asked Mr. Algibhah to inform on his community in his neighborhood. The FBI agents offered Mr. Algibhah money and told him that they could bring his family from Yemen to the United States very quickly if he became an informant. Mr. Algibhah again told the FBI agents that he would not become an informant.”

    So the FBI retaliated. Since 2010, Jameel Algibhah has been unable to visit his wife and three daughters in Yemen. Not content with preventing Algibhah and the other three from flying, the FBI began interviewing their friends, family, acquaintances, and employers, generating suspicion about them. “They lost jobs, were stigmatized within their communities, and suffered severe financial and emotional distress,” reports the CCR.

    In June 2015, just before their case was to go to court, the men received letters from the government officially informing them that their names had been removed from the list. The CCR believes that “the letters are a de facto acknowledgment that the men never posed a security threat of any kind and that the FBI only listed them to coerce them into spying on their faith community.”

  20. This is VERY simple to solve. Terrorists want airplanes so (1) declare imminent domain on U.S. railways and take them a way from oil companies (2) put in a nation wide system of high speed rail alongside the poor people Amtrak (3) open up commercial shipping Tourism cabins on our cargo ships and (4) CLOSE all airports and END commercial aviation. Then we can abolish TSA and terrorism, because who really wants to hijack a Matson cargo ship full of Hyundais?!

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