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03/02/2003 Archived Entry: "Delta's shame"

To its burning shame, Delta Airlines is actively co-operating over and above any legal requirement in a government campaign to profile every airline passenger by accessing and evaluating his or her personal data from such sources as bank records and credit reports.

Your bank account data will be matched to a "terrorist watch list" and, then, you will be assigned a green, yellow, or red color code. Green is neutral and receives standard security screening; yellow is suspicious and gets unspecified special treatment; red is refused the "privilege" of flight. Do reds get their tickets refunded? Is the refusal a one-time occurence or will "reds" become de facto banned from flight indefinitely? Who knows? Nothing much about the process is being made public. As Maggies Garrett, of the American Civil Liberties Union comments, “So, you could be assigned a yellow code, have no way of knowing you’re assigned a yellow code, have no indication of what information put you on that list and [there is] no way to appeal that decision and for the rest of your life, you could be blacklisted under this.” The consequences of being labeled "red" could be extreme. If you are a businessman who needs to fly, then you are out of business. If you need or wish to go to Europe for some reason, you are facing weeks of ocean travel...if, in fact, ships will accept a "red" passenger.

Nor could a "red" (or yellow) dispute the label. Katie Corrigan, an ACLU Legislative Counsel comments, “Despite the potentially serious consequences of being accused by your own government of being a security risk, CAPPS II would not allow innocent Americans to see the information that such a designation was based on, would not permit them a meaningful way to appeal, and would not reveal the criteria on which such judgments were based so they could avoid suspicion in the future.” “In fact, individuals would not even have the right to confirm how they have been labeled.”

Reports abound of the "political" uses that have been made of current airport policies -- e.g. antiwar advocates being yanked out of line for extensive *random* searches on every single leg of every single flight. What prevents the government from labeling "red" anyone who is too critical of the government? Oh that's right...I keep forgetting that US officials wouldn't act that way. Nixon wouldn't bug offices. Clinton wouldn't maintain files on his opponents. Lord Acton was wrong: power does not corrupt, absolute power does not corrupt absolutely. The more power you give someone and the less supervision there is, the more noble and honest that person becomes.

And, of course, the color coding will only be used to screen for terrorism risks. I know this because, again, the officials in control of the undisclosed policy tell me so. Mihir Kshirsagar from the Electronic Privacy Information Center has his doubts. "This kind of profiling could make airports into all purpose police stops. So if you were somebody on the run, or if you were a deadbeat dad, or even if you had unpaid parking tickets, it's possible that the government now has all this information in its databases, and they use it to get after you."

Support anyone who opposes this measure. Boycott air flight. If you must fly, don't use Delta.

On the Personal front...Brad is home!!!!

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