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Flying Faster Without ID 528

jjh37997 writes "A Homeland Security's privacy advisory committee member finds that flying without a photo ID is actually faster than traveling with proper identification. According to Wired the committee member, Jim Harper, accepted a bet from civil liberties rabble-rouser John Gilmore to test whether he could actually fly without showing identification. He found that traveling without ID allowed him to bypass the long security lines at San Francisco's International Airport, and get in faster than if he had provided his driver's license."
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Flying Faster Without ID

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  • Lucky Him (Score:2, Insightful)

    Good thing he's white.
    • Re:Lucky Him (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nizo ( 81281 ) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:48PM (#15504855) Homepage Journal
      Exactly; somehow I am guessing if he had olive skin and claimed to be from the middle east, there would have been a slight delay before the hour long full body cavity search.
    • Re:Lucky Him (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hentai ( 165906 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:49PM (#15504865) Homepage Journal
      Well, white, "normal looking", and with signs of reasonable affluence.

      As with all things, it helps to look sharp - whenever you find yourself in a potentially dodgy situation, stop and ask yourself, "how expensive of a lawyer do I look like I can afford?"
      • Re:Lucky Him (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:57PM (#15504942)
        I think this whole "white" thing is a little exaggerated. I'm orignally from Pakistan, look very middle eastern and travel through SFO all the time and have never been checked. Infact I travel all the time with my "white" British friend who has been checked thrice. He then got ticked off and shaved his beard :)
        • Re:Lucky Him (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Corbets ( 169101 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:02PM (#15504990) Homepage
          I fail to see how the grandparent, which simply said "Good thing he's white" can be modded +5 insightful while this AC post, which actually provides a little bit of information (an anecdote, at least) can be modded 0. Looks to me like Slash has a little racism going on (or reverse racism, if you like - it's all the same shit to me).

          If you read this, have mod points, and agree, please mod the parent up a bit instead of me. ;-)
        • Re:Lucky Him (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kimvette ( 919543 )
          That's because "profiling" - you know, exercising actual forensic science, is DoublePlusUnGood in today's society because a minority might get "offended." Of course you don't want to offend anyone, that's not the goal. The goal is supposed to be to identify and check the most likely suspects, regardless of what the profile characteristics might be; the fact that in this particular case it's middle-eastern ancestry and subscribing to Islam is just an unfortunate thing. To search whitey just to be PC and not
          • Re:Lucky Him (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bhiestand ( 157373 )

            hat's because "profiling" - you know, exercising actual forensic science, is DoublePlusUnGood in today's society because a minority might get "offended."

            Profiling is doubleplusungood. Everyone likes forensic science, though.

            but the fact is that most of the terrorists are Arabs, so it only makes sense to focus scruitiny there.

            All terrorists are people. The terrorists who attacked on 9/11 were indeed arabs. This does not all the terrorists make. Where's your data that leads you to believe most are arabs

            • Re:Lucky Him (Score:4, Insightful)

              by EndlessNameless ( 673105 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:09PM (#15506452)
              Don't forget the Oklahoma City bombing, the *other* major terrorist attack on US soil. It's still recent history even if it has been overshadowed.

              And the terrorists in that attack were not only white boys, but they were also Americans. And if memeory serves, McVeigh was younger, but Nicols was well into middle age.

              Generalizing about who might attack doesn't help. Checking everyone equally for dangerous chemicals and weapons does. It's really that simple.
          • Yes, we know most Muslims are not terrorists, most scorn the violence (evangelism via force) that Mohammed embraced for a short time in his life, but the fact is that most of the terrorists are Arabs, so it only makes sense to focus scruitiny there.


            So, if I'm a terrorist ... and I look like I'm a terrorist ... I just find a white girl-friend who is the opposite of your "profile" and I pack her carry-on baggage with my weapons. Without her knowledge.

            I get massive sympathy from her because I always

            • by beoswulf ( 940729 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:55PM (#15505473)
              "So, if I'm a terrorist ... and I look like I'm a terrorist ... I just find a white girl-friend who is the opposite of your "profile" and I pack her carry-on baggage with my weapons. Without her knowledge."

              That's already been done. It's why profiling doesn't work. And I'm not middle eastern, I'm of pasty Irish ancestry. I could pass as a danish. /rimshot

              "In 1986, Nezar Hindawi, a Jordanian national then residing in Britain, told his pregnant Irish girlfriend to fly to Israel from London and that he would meet her there via Jordan. Before she boarded the El Al jumbo jet in London, it was discovered by airport security that the false bottom of her hand luggage concealed a bomb powerful enough to blow the jumbo jet out of the sky. She told authorities that the hand luggage was a gift from her fiancé Nezar Hindawi and that she could not believe that he would knowingly endanger her or his own unborn child. When Hindawi was arrested he revealed that he was a paid agent for Syria and claimed that he had been specifically instructed by Syria to romance and then impregnate a naive woman who could be utilized as a completely unwitting human bomb and thereby more likely avoid detection by airport security (who then operated according to standardized terrorist profiles). So convincing was the evidence of Syria's hand behind this attempt to obliterate a civilian passenger plane that Britain suspended diplomatic relations with Syria for a number of years thereafter."

              More: .html []
          • Re:Lucky Him (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Darth Cow ( 533706 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:45PM (#15505372)
            You make an interesting point, but it's wrong. Profiling based on race in fact is detrimental to security, because security officials concentrate on skin color as opposed to the behavior that actually indicates likilihood of being a terrorist -- nerviousness, shifting eyes, standing around in a corner, I don't know -- stuff like that. (My source is a professor on an NPR program I heard last August. I recall when I was listening to it, too, so if you really care I could probably track down who it was.)

            How many terrorist attacks on airplanes have we had since September 11? What, the shoe bomber? That's a sample size of 1. And all the time we hear about the increasing threat of "home grown terrorists." Slashdot readers should know not to extrapolate from small data sets.

            • Slashdot readers should know not to extrapolate from small data sets.

              Ahahaha! Oh, boy. Come back the next time there's a discussion about gender issues. In these parts, two anecdotes add up to a vast body of compelling, indisputable empirical evidence. :P

          • Re:Lucky Him (Score:5, Insightful)

            by radish ( 98371 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:46PM (#15505389) Homepage
            but the fact is that most of the terrorists are Arabs

            Crap. Most of the terrorists I've had to worry about during my life have been Irish Catholics. Many of the terrorist attacks on US soil have been at the hands of white Christians. Racial profiling is bad because it doesn't work more than for any other reason.
          • Re:Lucky Him (Score:4, Interesting)

            by GregStevensLA ( 976873 ) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:49PM (#15505413)
            "we know most Muslims are not terrorists, [...] but the fact is that most of the terrorists are Arabs, so it only makes sense to focus scruitiny there."

            OK, a brief mathematical point. If most Arabs are not terrorists, and most terrorists are Arabs, it does not follow that your highest probability of finding a terrorist will be by examining Arabs

            I'll make a concrete example for you. Suppose you pick a group of people at random, and it happens to contain: 10 Arab Terrorists, 5 Non-Arab Terrorists, 90 Arab Non-Terrorists, and 10 Non-Arab Non-Terrorists. Now, you might argue that this does not reflect probabilities in the larger population, but... let me use this as an example, to make a mathematical pont.

            In that situation, it is true that: Most Terrorists are Arabs. (10-to-5: among the terrorists, there are twice as many Arabs as Non-Arabs.)

            In that situation, it is also true that: Most Arabs are NOT Terrorists. (90-to-10: among the Arabs, there are 9 times as many non-Terrorists as there are Terrorists.)

            However, now look at the probabilities: If you examine Arabs only, your chances of finding a terrorist are 10% (there are 100 Arabs in the sample, 10 of them are terrorists). On the other hand, if you examine Non-Arabs only, your chances are finding a terrorist are 33% (there are 15 Non-Arabs, 5 of them are Terrorists).

            I know these numbers seem skewed, but I want to make a mathematical point: just because most Terrorists are Arabs DOES NOT mean that you are more likely to find a terrorist by searching Arabs.

          • Re:Lucky Him (Score:4, Insightful)

            by skintigh2 ( 456496 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:54PM (#15505463)
            Whine whine whine, you poor oppressed white boy.

            Not only is racial profiling "not PC" and "offensive" to those we hope to gain intel from, but it's stupid. If you profile Muslim Arabs, how many Ted Kaczynskis are you going to stop? Or Timothy Mcveighs? Or Eric Rudolphs?

            Do you think our enemies are retarded? If we annouced to the world "we will only search arabs, never whites" exacty how many seconds would pass before they recruited a white person to blow up a plane?

            Aesop said it better than I ever could:

            A DOE blind in one eye was accustomed to graze as near to the edge of the cliff as she possibly could, in the hope of securing her greater safety. She turned her sound eye towards the land that she might get the earliest tidings of the approach of hunter or hound, and her injured eye towards the sea, from whence she entertained no anticipation of danger. Some boatmen sailing by saw her, and taking a successful aim, mortally wounded her. Yielding up her last breath, she gasped forth this lament: "O wretched creature that I am! to take such precaution against the land, and after all to find this seashore, to which I had come for safety, so much more perilous."
          • Re:Lucky Him (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:01PM (#15505524) Homepage Journal
            To search whitey just to be PC and not be accused of "racial profiling" is just plain ridiculous, because the truth is it IS racial profiling, based in forensics.

            Tell that to the cop who caught the Oklahoma City bomber, jackass:
            In the moments after news of the explosion hit national press, sketches of Middle Eastern men were posted. Numerous terrorist groups were targeted. It made logical sense to America, as two years prior, the last attempt of a building being bombed was the World Trade Center in New York. It would not be until a few days later that these reports would be proven wrong.

            Within 90 minutes of the explosion Timothy McVeigh, a Gulf War veteran, was arrested, travelling north out of Oklahoma City on Interstate 35 near Perry in Noble County, after being pulled over for driving without a license plate by an Oklahoma State Trooper.

            You would have been harassing innocents, and would have ignored whity. Good thing that cop did his damn job instead of knee-jerking (or "using forensics" as you call it).
        • Re:Lucky Him (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:37PM (#15505305) Journal
          Well, of course. It's very simple, most people are misunderstanding the purpose of airline security.

          The purpose is not to stop terrorists. It's abundantly clear that the measures that have been taken are ineffective at doing so. The purpose of airline security is assure middle America that Something Is Being Done .

          Towards that end, it's much more important that people who look "Middle American" appear to be given much more scrutiny, because they're the ones footing the bill - they have to be the ones to get the warm fuzzies and thereby get assurance that it's safe to fly.

          If you want some idea of how completely absurd the whole thing is, try being a pilot (or just pretending to be one) at a smaller airfield (yes, that still services larger jets) and see how easy it is to access airplanes without a single challenge from anybody. At most, you'll be asked for the tail number of your aircraft - which you can read from the big freakin' characters on the side of every airplane.
          • Re:Lucky Him (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            I'm getting my pilot license at an airfield serviced by Alaska Air and several smaller airlines. When you want to take a flight with Alaska you have to go through security. Or you can can do what I do and walk around the terminal, past the flight school, and onto the airfield with no questions asked. Somehow I don't think all that security BS has any effect on my safety.
          • by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:15PM (#15505639) Homepage Journal
            Its going to the extremes. I live in India, and in the past few years airline security has always been tight because terrorism is very very old over here. So what was the security. No ID bullshit. You walk into a metal detecter. If it beeps you are frisked. They ask you to remove keys, wallet, cell phone and keep them separately. Simple 1 min process which happened parallely to your bag in the X-Ray. Heck if you are carrying a camera bag you could give it to them and tell please check it by hand as you dont want your films getting spoiled. Simple and effective. Infact so effective that inspite of the very real threat of terrorism(bomb blasts on streets etc., are common in some parts of the country), there was one hijacking after 1990, and that too from Nepal(A neighbouring country). So nothing wrong with the security measures over here. Now lets contrast that with the US. Before 9/11 you could walk upto the plane to see people off as if they are boarding a bus! And after that they make you remove your shoes and what not. If they really want to learn how to secure airports and prevent hijackings, visit Israel, India or any country which has borne the brunt of terrorism for so long.
          • Too true.

            I remember flying to India and somewhere along the way (I think maybe in LAX when we were coming back?) there was a super white blond woman behind me in the security line. I could see nothing about her that was suspicious in any way. I went through without problems, all my stuff scanned fine (including some electronics).

            However she got stopped because her Cover Girl compact was suspicious. The security guy said sometimes the mirror in it looks suspicious or something? It sounded like total crap
        • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

          Your phone records are clean, and there are no suspicious activities in any of your accounts. You also never detour from any of your travel plans, and have yet to dwell in any questionable places.

          Department of Homeland Security

          PS - Your out of mayo, your upstairs toilet leaks, you haven't vacuumed in 9 days, and you might have better luck bringing your girlfriend to orgasm if you try position 32 of the Kama Sutra
      • by mozumder ( 178398 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:59PM (#15504960)
        And sometimes it helps to look really ghetto. In college I once got stopped by a cop for doing an illegal u-turn, and he looked at me, looked at my old '81 Honda, and said "Do you think you can afford a ticket for that?". Then he let me go.

        • And sometimes it helps to look dumb.

          My brother drove into a lake after passing three "Road Closed" signs. The officer who came to investigate asked my bro to join him in his patrol car, where he proceeded to flip through a thick book of traffic law/traffic violations.

          After about a half-hour the trooper said, "Well, I'm not going to give you a ticket 'cause there just isn't a law for being stupid."

        • Re:Lucky Him (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SoCalChris ( 573049 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:28PM (#15505195) Journal
          I had a similar incident happen to me...

          I was pulled over for speeding (106mph in a 70mph zone). Since the ticket was for "Exceeding 100mph", it was a mandatory court appearance. I showed up in a dress shirt, nice slacks and a tie. I plead guilty, and was fined $600. I was driving a Mercedes (A 1979 Mercedes, which is pretty inexpensive), but I'm sure the judge thought that me driving the Mercedes meant I have money.

          The guy behind me shows up, and was charged with doing 105 in a 70, in the same exact location as I was pulled over, on the same day, by the same officer, but about 20 minutes after I was pulled over. He was dressed in worn out jeans & a wife beater, and was driving a rental Mustang. His fine was $250.

          I'm still pissed about that, but I kept my mouth shut since the judge didn't suspend my license, and I was afraid he would hold me in contempt of court.

          The Bakersfield, Ca courtroom is making the state a ton of money. The day I was in court, there were about 45 people in there, all charged with exceeding 100mph. I would imagine that they are one of the largest contributors to Bakersfield's economy.
          • Re:Lucky Him (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hammock ( 247755 )
            ever consider slowing down? thats really fast.
          • Re:Lucky Him (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Onan ( 25162 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:06PM (#15505554)
            Fines are dangerous to use as a law-enforcement tool, for just this reason. As soon as you give governments a financial incentive to punish people, you start getting "enforcement" that happens for reasons completely unrelated to wanting to protect the public.

            I've always thought that the right solution to this is to reduce that governmental body's tax income by exactly as much money as it takes in in fines. This way the government has no financial incentive one way or the other, and will presumably only pass and enforce laws when they're actually in the interest of the community. And those fines would reduce the tax burden on the supposedly-harmed society, reimbursing the citizens who had been transgressed against in the most direct possible way.

      • Re:Lucky Him (Score:5, Insightful)

        by poincaraux ( 114797 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:59PM (#15504962)
        Having a reporter watching the whole thing probably didn't hurt.
    • I gotta admit, that was one thing that struck me when I read this article.

      Leaving out the race-card for the moment, just the fact that this guy was part of the TSA and that he was accompanied by a reporter smelled of 'set-up' to me. He announced that he would take the challenge, went home, made a few phone calls to let everyone know what was happening so that the next day, when he showed up at the airport, everything would go smoothly.

      I'll be more interested to see what happens when a few "regular citizens
    • Why?

      White people under the guise of trying to be PC get searched much much more often.
      To the point of being absurd.

      I dont think the 80 year old with the knitting needle is gonna hijack this plain.

      I dont know what airports you go to, but most are afraid to search the arab looking guy because of a lawsuit for profiling.
    • That is the best leading slashdot post I have ever seen!
    • I'm a mid-20's white male and I get pulled over for "random inspections" more often than "random" ...

    • Re:Lucky Him (Score:4, Insightful)

      by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:51PM (#15505428) Homepage Journal
      Also, it probably doesn't hurt that he's on the DHS's privacy advisory committee, according to the name on his ticket, and his employer (the Cato Institute) is a well-known think tank and has a high-res photo of him [] on their website.

      What do you want to want to bet the security supervisor's phone call went:

      "Any idea why a Jim Harper might be trying to fly without an ID? He says he mailed it home instead of carrying it with him."

      "Jim Harper... like the Jim Harper? White, brown hair, balding, thin widow's peak, short beard and mustache, grey eyes?"

      "Uh, yeah, that sounds like him."

      "He's on the DHS privacy committee. Make sure he's not sneaking a fake bomb on the plane or anything, but don't keep him from flying. And don't let on that you know who he is."

      I mean, the people checking him out probably had access to hard-to-fake photographic identification than anything he could possibly be carrying himself. And a quick Google reveals that his new book is about "How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood". It seems obvious that, if he attracts enough attention that somebody looks him up, he'll be given exactly the treatment that he got: pretend to ignore his identity and check him sufficiently thoroughly that you'd catch it if he had anything prohibited.
      • Re:Lucky Him (Score:4, Insightful)

        by FurryFeet ( 562847 ) <> on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:45PM (#15505859)
        You are SERIOUSLY overestimating both the intelligence of the average screener and Mr. Harper's public visibility. We're on Slashdot; lots of privacy geeks here, and I'm sure not 0.1 percent of us knew who Jim Harper was (not to mention that the DHS has a privacy commitee). I know I didn't know him.

        Now, remember this story? []. If the kind of conspiracy you are expounding were true, don't you think it would have been a lot easier to ID Senator Ted Kennedy than freakin' Jim "Nobody you'd know" Harper?

        • Re:Lucky Him (Score:3, Insightful)

          by iabervon ( 1971 )
          The average screener wouldn't pay any attention, but they got the screening manager in there. The the screening manager probably wouldn't recognize the name, either, but the guy's behaving very strangely. (He claims to have mailed his driver's license to his destination, which is his home, for no reason that he feels like providing. So he's not going to be able to drive home from the airport when he gets there. And he's not going to have his license for a few days. And it couldn't be an accident.) Plus, the
  • You mean all the ranting and raving about this "needing ID to fly" has been meaningless?

    Well, I say welcome... it's been meaningless to me for a while. :)
  • by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:45PM (#15504821) Journal
    ...I know people like to think that it's now so much more secure; but if you don't "look like a terrorist" (which usually means of middle eastern origin) you can get through pretty quick. I went from England to holland and never had to show anything but the colour of my passport (which is bugandy - the English colour) and the fact that I am white and middle class. That was all they cared about. I know a lot of people won't like that the world sometimes works like this (I don't), and I'm expecting people won't want to hear it either...
    • Just wait until someone who doesn't fit the standard profile does something naughty, or is coerced into doing something naughty (blow up the plane or your family dies!). Then it is full body cavity searches for everyone.
    • and the fact that I am white and middle class. That was all they cared about.

      Sadly, this is true on either side of the puddle. And one of these days some white Texan [] or some white Oklahoman [] will get away with it, and everyone will stand around in shock and awe that some white person [] would do such a thing. For about 30 minutes. Then everyone will go back to hurling epithets at people that don't look like they do.

      Meanwhile we get pretend security against some enemies.
  • Honestly... (Score:4, Funny)

    by afxzanac ( 916412 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:45PM (#15504825) Homepage
    Is saving 5 minutes in line REALLY worth the full cavity search????
  • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:48PM (#15504850) Journal
    ... you woudln't save any time. Honestly, putting your items through the X-ray machine and stepping through the magnetic scanner is quicker than the near-body-cavity search they gave him. If everyone opted to do it just to save from showing ID's (whether an ideological move or a time-saving one) then the time-savers would be going back to the X-ray lines ...
    • I'd hardly count going through the puffer as a near body-cavity search.
    • Actually, my airport just added some new security machines to elongate the process and make you feel even more violated. (Cause it wasn't tedious and invase enough.)

      This new machine had been installed in half the lines and I was lucky enough to get chosen for one of you on my last flight.

      The was some GE contraption placed before the metal detector that would have one person enter it at a time. You would enter the machine, and then it would blow puffs of air at you from every direction. Then it would wait fo
    • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:04PM (#15504998) Homepage
      That's pretty true... but most people simply do what's expected of them and/or whatever the signs say to do.

      In response to people claiming, "that works for white people... but what about the rest of us?" I say "bullshit!" I was TSA and frankly, as much as many people would LIKE to be able to do profiling, there is so much going on to discourage it (at least at DFW airport) that I feel VERY confident in asserting that it doesn't matter if you're Arab. I recall working at a checkpoint when a man of Arab decent was delayed slightly while people frantically made phone calls in a back office. This guy was on the "No-Fly-List" and they were attempting to clear him through the FBI or whatever federal agency. Ultimately, either they cleared him or they couldn't reach anyone who knew what to do with this case. Some 15 minutes later, I saw him bowing and praying on a rug that he brought with him facing in the direction I presume must be Mecca...on the SECURE side of the airport. They let him through anyway.

      As I was leaving the TSA, "No ID" flyers were becoming more and more common to the point that the procedure as described in the article sounds about accurate. So yes, everything is screened in the fullest allowable detail. But frankly, there isn't enough manpower to handle everyone like that.

      If everyone learned this trick, they'd have to change the way they do things or hire more people or both.

      Now that said, my experience is that the longer part of the line is outside of the "corral" area. The entrance of the corral is where the ID checker is... and that ID checker is an AIRLINE employee, not government. So if you want to play that game, be sure that the line before the corral is shorter or non-existant. Otherwise, before the ID checker, you're still waiting in line for quite some time.
  • by frzndrag ( 252873 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:49PM (#15504860) Homepage
    The problem is not in getting through the TSA checkpoint it is getting your boarding pass from the airline.
    He just proved you can get through the TSA checkpoint with a valid boarding pass without an ID.
    If you do not have ID and try to checkin for your flight at the airline desk you will get what John Gilmore got in the article - a refusal from the airline to give you your ticket.
  • by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:54PM (#15504901)
    From the article: There Harper was directed into the belly of a General Electric EntryScan puffer machine that shot bits of air at his suit in order to see if he had been handling explosives.

    TSA employees wearing baby blue surgical gloves then swiped his Sidekick and his laptop for traces of explosives and searched through his carry-on, while a supervisor took his ticket, conferred with other employees and made a phone call.

    I wonder how many people it would take to DOS that procedure?
  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:55PM (#15504917)
    How does proving that I'm me make anybody any safer?
    • How does proving that I'm me make anybody any safer?

      Actually, its to save the airlines from "terror" against its profit margins by disallowing people from swapping vouchers or tickets. Showing ID will ensure that only the person they're made out to will use them. No safety issue, aside from the shadowy watchlist that nobody knows about.
    • Because in theory they know who a lot of the bad guys are and can check their names against a database. Of course, most of the bad guys will know enough to have a fake ID.....

      Because in theory they know who a lot of the dumb bad guys are and can check....
    • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:13PM (#15505071) Journal

      Because, if everyone takes their ID on the plane, if Johnny Terrorist blows the plane up, then everyone can flap their ID cards really hard which will put the fire out, and also it'll just be like lots of little birds flapping their wings, so the plane will float down gently instead of crashing.

      Also, if you are brown, carrying an ID card means you won't blow up the plane. And if you are white, carrying an ID card means you are not brown or a muslim, so you also will not blow up the plane.

  • Because this would render the government "Do Not Fly" lists unenforceable. Also, the challenge was to give the driver's license to John Gilmore (the challenger) who would have mailed the driver's license their house, not give it to a guy (reporter) accompanying you there. There's no way to verify if this single reporter is telling the truth in that matter (there have been a number of crooked reporters in the past years coming out).

    At the meeting's close, Harper, a committee member, said he'd take the chal

    • Exactly.

      At the meeting's close, Harper, a committee member, said he'd take the challenge so long as he could hand his envelope to a reporter who accompanied him to the airport. [...] At 6 a.m. the next morning...
      So, between the meeting's close and 6 AM the next morning, he was on the phone to everybody at TSA telling them of this publicity stunt and to make sure that it all went smoothly.
  • by Amazing Proton Boy ( 2005 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:58PM (#15504950) Homepage
    I've done a variant of this with customs as well. When you come back into the U.S. you must clear customs. This involves standing a HUGE line, usually for an hour or so. There are only 4 or 5 stations open at LAX normally. The trick is to bring a small plant back with you. When you get to customs you tell the guy you have a plant and aren't sure if it's allowed. They send you over to another guy who only handles these sorts of things and has no one in his line.. He looks up your plant and searches you bags. If the plant is allowed in(never happens) you keep it and walk right out. If the plant isn't allowed he takes it and you walk right out. Total time maybe 5 minutes. Works every time.
  • by Astro Dr Dave ( 787433 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:00PM (#15504966)
    There was a reporter watching and taking notes as he was searched by the TSA. I wonder how he would have fared if he were alone?
  • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:02PM (#15504980) Journal
    Apparently if I fly naked I'll save enough time to get there before I leave.
  • No Fly List. (Score:3, Informative)

    by neo ( 4625 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:07PM (#15505022)
    My name is on the No Fly list. I wont be trying this. I show ID and I still get put in that same line he went through.
  • by Plugh ( 27537 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:10PM (#15505047) Homepage
    Russ Kanning is a friend of mine.
    Last year, he tried to board an airplane... without showing an ID, and without submitting to a secondary search.

    He was carrying only his boarding pass and a copy of the U.S. Constitution. Cheeky fucker!
    He spent several days in jail, and got some really scary letters from the FBI (hi guys!).
    Scanned copies of the letters, photos of the event, and his own musing are posted here [].

    Now, I don't agree with Russell's focus on "civil disobediance" -- I prefer to focus on political change (ie, getting good people elected into office, passing good laws, repealing bad ones, etc). In addition, I think this particular act of Civil Disobedience was poorly chosen -- he was trying to make the point that it should be the airlines, not the government, that sets the rules for any particular flight.

    But still, ya gotta admire the sheer cojones of standing up to the FBI, and doing it with a sense of humor (see the letters he wrote back to the Feds, they're hilarious!)

    Russ is just one of the hundreds of pro-Liberty activists out here in New Hampshire, one more member of the Free State Project []

  • by djh101010 ( 656795 ) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:10PM (#15505053) Homepage Journal
    Back before 9/11, I flew into London from Denmark, and was leaving the country the next day for the states. Hadn't bought much so customs wouldn't be a problem. But, they have a "red line", and a "green line" - red for "I have something to declare (and pay tax on)". The red line was empty aside from a few people watching and profiling those walking through. The green line was forever long, and I was tired. So, off I went, up the red line, right to the counter. "Well, I have this sweater that I bought in Norway for (number) Norwegian Kronur, which works out to about (number) Pounds. I'm leaving for the US tomorrow, not sure if I need to pay something on this or not?"

    I pretty much already knew the answer (no as long as you're not planning to sell it here), but by going up through the shorter line and having a plausible reason for doing so, I was able to save an hour. So yeah, you can get some time savings doing this sort of thing. Not sure I'd go for the body cavity search route to save waiting in the ID line, though. I guess that depends on if it's a business trip, or a recreational one.
  • by skwang ( 174902 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:12PM (#15505067)

    This proove the old adage that the world is not driven by reality but by the perception of reality.

    I would argue that no one in their right minds would try to highjack an airplane again. In the past highjacking was a political statement. Usually the highjackers would fly the plane to a neutral airport and make demands. Often this would include the release of fellow members of their organization who were incarcerated. If you were an unlucky passenger, you would be an unfortuante pawn in a global chess-game. (Obviously there were exceptions.)

    After the terrorist attacks on 11 Sept. 2001, no passenger will sit still and let a highjacker take over an airplane. Highjacking is now synonomous with suicide attacks. In my opinion, the real danger to airline travel comes not from highjackers but from explosives being placed on the airplane, e.g. Pan Am flight 103.

    But the perception in the US is that flying needs to be protected, so the result is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Others have pointed out that if you are not white, have any kind of middle eastern origins, and you try to fly without an ID, you're pretty much screwed. And because the TSA has near absolute authority about whether or not you fly, they can deny you boarding simply because they feel like it.

    The result of all this is that flying, IMO, is not significantly safer than before. We are concentrating our resources on "fighting the last battle." Making sure passengers have proper Identification doesn't make flying any safer. One could point out that some of the highjackers on 11 Sept. 2001 had valid IDs, after all they entered the country legally. As a society we should concentrate our efforts on preventing bombings or other bomb like devices. The "shoe bomber" Richard Reid in late 2001 probably represents a greater threat, yet checking to make sure he has proper identification isn't going to help.

    I would argue that the checks they do at airports to check for explosives are worthwhile. But making sure you have an ID with you are not.

  • by MrCode ( 466053 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:16PM (#15505096)
    So what: a well-dressed polite white man gets through a shorter (yet more thorough) security line because of a lack of ID. First, the airlines have to account for people not having IDs. Wallets get stolen, IDs are lost or forgotten, in other words, shit happens. Second, this lack of ID is a rare occurence so of course the line will be shorter, and even if the actual screening takes 3-4 times as long than the "normal" screening you will get through faster.

    Incidentally, a little politeness can go a long way when dealing with government workers, especially in places like an airport or the DMV. Just think: these people deal with complaining a**holes all day for crappy pay, you might actually make their day a little brighter by being polite, or, God forbid, almost friendly. The time for civil disobedience in not after waiting 2 hours in the DMV line.
  • by njdj ( 458173 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:23PM (#15505162)
    rabble-rouser John Gilmore

    Is this intended as a favorable or pejorative description of John Gilmore?

    If John Gilmore is a rabble-rouser, then in my opinion the USA needs more rabble-rousers. If we had 100 million of them, the politicians would never have dared take away all our rights.

  • SFO experence (Score:5, Informative)

    by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:33PM (#15505246)
    In all fairness, I forgot to renew my license till I needed to travel to Mexico, and as it turns out my state now mails out photo IDs and give you a temporary laser printed copy. The "only" issue I had with this was the security checkpoint at SFO.

    Guard - "How did you copy this" the secuirty check station guard asked
    Me- "It's not a copy"
    Guard - "I can't let you through, this is expired"
    Me - "No, it's not expired, I just renewed it"
    Guard - "This looks like a photo copy"
    Me - "If you take the time to read it it says temporary. California does the same thing if you renew out of state. You staple the paper renewal to the expired plastic. If you have questions, call this number below".

    Now, to be fair, I do understand how a laser printed license does look suspicious. But spending time in cali I also know your average liquor store has on hand a book of respective licenses, what they should look like, and even pictures of ones that fall apart easily (Washington). This leads me to believe at least in California liquor is more secure than airports.

    • Re:SFO experence (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      I'm in my 30s and look to be about 20. When I was 23, I looked like I was 15. I went to a bar in Vail, CO with some friends, but I didn't want to drink (I don't drink) but to even be in there, they carded me and only me. I had the "new" Texas license. The guy was yelling at me for passing such a crappy fake, that it didn't even look like a TX license and that I'd better get out of there before he calls the cops. After a short discussion, he pulls out his Book Of ID to prove that the TX ID doesn't look
  • by Gribflex ( 177733 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:37PM (#15505297) Homepage
    I tried this out last year for an international flight from Vancouver to LA. I wouldn't recomend it.

    As a bit of background, my license had just expired and I was in the process of getting a new one. I checked the law ahead of time and discovered that for a Canadian citizen to travel to and from America via land, sea or air the only identification that you *need* is a birth certificate. Picture ID is strongly encouraged. A Passport is an even better idea.

    I got stopped at just about every possible interval on the trip - checking my bags, passing through security, getting through customs, getting on the plane, getting back through customs when I landed - by people that apparently had no understanding of the law.

    Every single person insisted that I could not travel without a Driver's license. Flashing the yellow sheet of paper that passes as a temp license in BC didn't get me very far. I even had to ask the customs official to ask their manager to look up the information. Neither one of them knew what was going on.

    It is possible to do these trips without proper identification, but it's such a pain in the neck it's not really worth it.
  • Go, Jim Harper! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Seth Cohn ( 24111 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:12PM (#15506782)
    Jim's a great guy. He came to New Hampshire to help us fight Real ID here.
    He testified to help us pass an anti-RealID bill, which came within a hair of becoming law.

    As I wrote in another post, see 976923577 []
    for footage from a big protest against REAL ID here.

    I had a long argument with NH Senator President Gatsas about the "id requirement" issue in flying and we (Jim and I) insisted he was wrong, that we could fly without any ID, if we were willing to submit to a secondary search. Kudos to Jim for proving us right!

    (For those wondering what politics in New Hampshire is like... Yes, not only did I have an argument with the Senate President, but he called me back within 5 minutes of my sending him an email. We have that sort of an open and accessible legislature. Come and see it in action, there is nothing like it anywhere else. 400 State Representatives, 24 Senators, all paid a mere $100 a year, and little in the way of staff or offices.)

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam