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Air Marshals Place Innocents on Secret Watch List 571

An anonymous reader writes "The Denver Channel 7 News reports that federal air marshals are operating under a quota for reporting a minimum number of suspicious travelers which is resulting in innocent people being placed on a secret government watch list. From the article: 'These unknowing passengers who are doing nothing wrong are landing in a secret government document called a Surveillance Detection Report, or SDR.'"
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Air Marshals Place Innocents on Secret Watch List

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  • No wonder (Score:5, Funny)

    by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:17PM (#15778817)
    It was posted anonymously...

    • Re:No wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @05:08PM (#15779361) Homepage

      Apparently my dad was put on this a while ago when he flew into Las Vegas.

      Nobody bothered him that day, but a few days later when he was checking in to go back home he was told he was put on a watch list. I guess the checkin person probably shouldn't have told him that, but she said it only meant a little extra attention on him at the airport and not to worry.

      Since then, no one at checkin has mentioned him being on a list. However after that he hasn't been allowed to go back into the terminal to pick up my younger brother (which he had done several times before).

      • Re:No wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

        by x2A ( 858210 )
        "probably shouldn't have told him that"

        Maybe she was meant to? Could have various effects, such as
        a) Deterrent. This person's less likely to do something bad if they know they're being watched.
        b) Spread calm. A none-terrorist is gonna tell people "hey they put me on a watchlist!", giving people confidence that the government is actually on the watchout, keeping ppl safe.
        c) Spread fear. Same as b, but in order to convince people there is something to fear, so they can be controlled better and hand over liber
        • by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @08:47PM (#15780872)
          Makes me wonder if that's how GWB's brain cell works.

          Spread calm, spread fear, spread calm, spread fear - oops gotta pee - spread calm, spread fear...

      • by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @09:28AM (#15783401)
        Have you considered the fact that your dad might indeed be a terrorist??
      • Re:No wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jim Hall ( 2985 )

        I had something similar happen to me when I was flying to Birmingham, England for a business meeting just before Christmas. Didn't think I'd ever have a problem leaving the country. When I tried to do Express Checkin at the NorthWest counter, the computer told me to see an agent in person. The guy taps my passport number into his terminal, says "Oh!" (never a good sign) and makes a phone call. I can only hear his side of the conversation, but I'm not really paying attention until ten minutes later when I h

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:18PM (#15778824)

    Well, I wouldn't call it a secret anymore.

    • by Aqua_boy17 ( 962670 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:53PM (#15779211)
      These unknowing passengers who are doing nothing wrong are landing in a secret government document called a Surveillance Detection Report, or SDR
      And WTF is this? Is this like being put on double-secret probation? When you have a government program that, according to the article, withholds bonuses and raises based on quotas, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised when agents just make stuff up. How incredibly ludicrous is this? We've once again managed to build the incompetence right there into the system.

      Boy, I'm feeling more secure everyday...Not.
      • Personally, I'm considering the source. The local stations here will do everything they can to sensationalize a story...I don't know why any other networks or affiliates would be any different. (I don't trust the news outlets much, but I trust local television stations FAR less.)
      • Wait (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mark_MF-WN ( 678030 )
        Wait a minute. Are you suggesting that living in a police state is a ... bad thing? How could that be? Americans are so safe now! Sure, terrorists are more committed than ever to attacking Americans and have increased exponentially in number thanks to certain poor choices by the government; but harassing American citizens must be doing something, right?

        Seriously, here's an idea: take all those government parasites that harass airplane passengers, run eavesdropping programs, make threats to journalist

        • Re:Wait (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nsayer ( 86181 ) * <nsayer @ k f u . c om> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:18PM (#15780424) Homepage
          Americans are so safe now!

          Actually, since 9/11, American's are now less safe than before.

          How can that be?

          Because the cost of airline travel in both time, money, and convenience has gone up. That has made more Americans look to alternatives, like driving, which are much, much less safe (per passenger-mile).

          We'd probably be more safe had we responded to 9/11 by literally doing nothing at all.

          • Re:Wait (Score:3, Interesting)

            by HiThere ( 15173 ) *
            We'd almost certainly be better off if we'd responded to 9/11 by doing nothing official. Except, perhaps, legalizing the creation and awarding of a reward for the perpetrators...with official judges to ensure that there was sufficient evidence that the persons turned over actually were the guilty parties.

            But then we'd need a new ... president? vice-president? head of the CIA? I don't know who the lead party is, but he's someone high up in the government (or, of course, with a lot of power over the peopl
      • Ya know, I don't like the trend in government these days, either ... libertarian streak and all that.

        But this article is bogus. You have anonymous sources, who are supposedly federal air marshals, who are supposedly under pressure to file one report per month, come rain or shine. Notice that these "sources" are complaining about the quota system while still participating in it. That's some integrity for ya.

        Do you know what a *trustworthy* air marshal would do in this situation? He (gender-neutrally spe

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:19PM (#15778834) Homepage Journal
    Good thing I'm too broke to fly.
  • by MagicDude ( 727944 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:19PM (#15778837)
    The marshalls should just put everyone under the age of 5 on the "no fly" list. Marshall's meet their quota, and the flight is much more enjoyable for everyone else. Everybody wins.
  • IT? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:19PM (#15778838)
    I'm sort of curious as to why this was placed under IT, and not YRO or Politics...
    • Re:IT? (Score:4, Funny)

      by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:20PM (#15778848) Journal
      YRO would be too suspicious. Let's not make their jobs easier, eh?
    • Re:IT? (Score:5, Funny)

      by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @06:36PM (#15780123) Homepage
      Strategic Data Report
      26 July, 2006

      Agent: StikyPad
      Subject: mrxak

      Individual was seen on Wednesday July 26, at approximately 0619 making suspicious inquiries regarding the nature of data categorization and storage. The subject posed as a "concerned reader," and asked what appeared to be harmless questions, however informants have stated that he may, in fact, have been planning to submit his own stories to improper categories. Surveillance indicates that this is just the beginning of a massive campaign of disinformation and misinformation designed to thwart intelligence collection and law enforcement capabilities -- clearly a grave threat to national security.

      It is further believed that "mrxak" may actually be an alias, however his true identity has yet to be discovered. Subject must remain under continued observation at all times.


      Haha.. made quota!
  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:20PM (#15778847)
    Boy, color me shocked.

    Sad that this "protection" we all pay for is causing headaches for people who are minding their own business.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:40PM (#15779061)
      I have a relatively common anglo name (like John Doe) which has found its way onto the air watch list. To try and take myself off of the list, I had sent stacks of documentation, my birth certificate, copies of my passport and volumes of other personal crap to the TSA with a request to clear my name. The TSA, after many months, sent back a one page form letter that said they had taken some "actions", but said that those actions may or may not be ignored by the airlines. Some airlines still will not let me check in without going thru the counter and a confirmation phone-call to somebody in the back room somewhere. I don't know if that watch list is the same as the SDR, but it's causing a lot of unnecessary and unwarranted grief.

      I'm sure Bin-Hiding is laughing his ass off. He won.
  • It's not so bad... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:21PM (#15778859) Journal
    If you're not smuggling drugs, then you should have nothing to worry about with the random cavity searches.


    Seriously, I can't think of a worse system than quotas to put investigators under. It just screams Civil-Rights-Violation-Waiting-To-Happen.

    • by Brandybuck ( 704397 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @05:29PM (#15779574) Homepage Journal
      California (unofficially) has their housing inspectors on a quota system. You are expected to write up at least one violation per inspection. So building contractors learn to create one obvious but easy to fix code violation on every house they built. The inspector would find it, write it up, and leave.

      The problem isn't contractors taking advantage of the system, but rather that it's bureaucrats running the system. You don't get paid any more for doing a good job instead of a bad job, and the bureacracy as a whole actually benefits from bad jobs because they'll get more funding to fix the problem.
    • Maybe the ACLU should encourage EVERYbody to know EVERYbody. Then, the TSA will have some REAL work load and have to do a REAL job for a change. Then, all flyers show up at the last minute. When the planes have to leave empty, the airlines will scream murder down the necks of the pricks using the no-fly list beyone what it is supposed to be.

      Assholes, if you SCAN a person and there are not any traces of this or that banned/suspicious substance on their person or in their luggage, then don't hinder their flyi
      • by BalanceOfJudgement ( 962905 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @06:52PM (#15780249) Homepage
        Maybe somebody ought to crack the lottery and share the money with those burned for trying to save the world?
        If I came into that kind of money, I would buy 10,000 acres in the middle of nowhere, build my own little town/city and invite everyone who wants to live free, to live there.

        Oh, and build a secret army while I'm at it for when the Feds come accusing me of voluntarily leaving paradise, because NOBODY leaves paradise. Everyone should be a happy little Borg.
  • by Aqua_boy17 ( 962670 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:22PM (#15778864)
    Just got my ass chewed out for being under quota. Gotta keep my eyes open. But look ,over there, by the window. That frail old lady kind of looks suspicious to me. Got kind of an evil look about her. And what's that in her hands? OMG - Holy crap - knitting needles!! Quick, take her down she might just be trying to knit....

    (wait for it)

  • by schroedogg ( 596283 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:24PM (#15778891) Homepage
    What would you expect? It's not as if we have a true justice system here in America. A criminal breaks into a home and causes $2,000 worth of damage and what do we do? Feed him and take car of him in a jail while the homeowner is left to clean up the mess and insurance money (paid by the homeowner) takes care of the losses. Or, more often than not, simply let the criminal go with a warning. Then we spend our money falsely accusing innocent people just to keep up a "quota". Greed then drives what we like to think of as justice. It happens more than you think: e.g. officer's needing quotas for traffic violations & arrests and so caring more about their quota than justice in a certain situation. I know, it's not all bad and there are cops and agents that really DO care about justice. It's just the system that is messed up...
    • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @06:44PM (#15780194) Homepage
      What are you talking about?!?!? The U.S. incarceration rate in 2004 was the highest in the world [], at 724 per 100,000 population. Second was Russia, at 532 per 100,000. Obviously we're doing something right, catching all those criminals. We're number one!
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:25PM (#15778903)
    "Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens' What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

    Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

    ...and when one only has so many laws on the books that the libraries are ready to undergo gravitational collapse into a black hole, and when one has enough criminals that it has a higher incarceration rate than the Soviet Union (the very same dystopian hellhole that spawned Rand's original screed in 1957), and still doesn't have enough criminals, one fabricates them out of thin air.

    Homeland Security: Our budget is proportional to the number of terrorists we find. When there aren't enough terrorists, we make them.

    Ayn Rand was an optimist.

    • by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:48PM (#15779159) Homepage
      It's true though. I had a law professor (business law) tell me that the law is designed so that you are always breaking it at any given time. Then the authorities enforce the law when they feel it is required or they want to "throw the boook at you".

    • I have mod points, but unfortunately there isn't a mod option for "trotting out the same old Ayn Rand quote whether it's applicable or not"

      These people aren't being turned into criminals. They aren't breaking laws.

      Don't get me wrong, I don't support what's going on. Hopefully it's another step towards the populace finally taking a stand against overly authoritarian government and saying 'no more'.

      But please, enough of the Ayn Rand already.
    • by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @05:08PM (#15779359)
      ...and when one only has so many laws on the books that the libraries are ready to undergo gravitational collapse into a black hole

      Well, the Bushco solution to that is simply to keep laws secret. Not only do you save printing costs and shelf space, but it then becomes impossible to be sure that you're not breaking them. And when you inevitably do, your lawyer can't defend you because she's not allowed to read the applicable law, either.

      All hail the GOP!
  • Next time I fly I will make sure I am doing something just a bit suspicious so I can be in a government document. I think it would be cool actually.

    Cause then I will be a part of history, when the government has to open these records (or more likely they are forced open during the next revolution)
    • Tweekster says:
      Next time I fly I will make sure I am doing something just a bit suspicious so I can be in a government document.

      You mean like sitting in the terminal posting a comment to Slashdot via a wireless connection?

  • I can't wait! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plopez ( 54068 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:26PM (#15778919) Journal
    Until you get the possessions of the people you denounce. I've got my eye on spiffy leather couch.
  • Spooky,,, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:27PM (#15778925) Homepage
    It seems a little odd that these guys have such a vested financial interest in finding "something" every month. I'm sure it's just a method of weeding out the slackers who just want to sleep on all the flights and say 'everything was fine'. But couldn't they find a better way to check on these marshals? Like a secret shopper program or something? It works in retail.....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:28PM (#15778951)
    How about you?

    [neo con parody off]
    • Bush that you???
    • by BobSutan ( 467781 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @05:09PM (#15779381)
      "I'd rather be safe than free."

      This is the most concise interpretation of the Franklin quote I've seen to date. Seriously. Good job.

      The unfortunate part is that a lot of people in this country really would rather be safe than free. Or to be more precise, they want to FEEL safe than be free. True safety will never occur. Period. Just when you think every risk has been mitigated something new will come along. Its just human nature. Hell, scratch that, its the universe. Whether it be an act of violence, terrorism, or an asteroid slamming into the Earth, bad things will always find a way. The only solution is to accept it, move on, and live life to the fullest.

      In regards to terrorism, Americans simply need accept that despite our best efforts bad people will do bad things from time to time, and if anything bad does happen they'll be punished for it. Surrendering to our fears and trading liberty for security is the cowards way out. The last 5 years has been a dark time in our nation's history, but its time we change that and start embracing the liberties we still have left. Put your chin up and your best foot forward and lets show them they can't keep us down.
  • by cvd6262 ( 180823 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:29PM (#15778955)
    "Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal.

    2006.07.25 DenverChannel malsaid "unorthodox" as "suspicious". rectify.

    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:35PM (#15779008)
      > > "Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal.
      > 2006.07.25 DenverChannel malsaid "unorthodox" as "suspicious". rectify.

      2006.07.25 cvd6262 malsaid oldspeak "unorthodox" as "facecrime" rewrite fullwise.

      It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could igve you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself, anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face, was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime"

      ref unbook 1984, author unperson orwell

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:32PM (#15778983)
    Just how silly is that, I ask? How do you meet a quota when you're looking out for suspicious people? You declare someone suspicious who isn't, how else?

    God, just how DUMB are those national security morons? If anything, the NSA makes me feel LESS safe when I'm in the US. I feel like I'm under constant surveillance, being a suspect for being ... well, there.

    Is that what you want to accomplish, NSA? Is that the goal? Alienate the rest of the world, even those that used to LOVE your country, turn the rest of the world into your enemy so you can have perpetual war? The US are turning faster and faster into everything I hated about the communist system.
    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @06:12PM (#15779920) Homepage
      The US are turning faster and faster into everything I hated about the communist system.

      Here's what really pisses me off about it:

      When I was in grade school, I was taught about how great and free the USA was, and how horrible the USSR was, and the reasons were that over there people had to show their papers everywhere they went, the government was constantly spying on them, and they could be locked away without due process of law based solely on the accusation of treasonous acts.

      Now those same things that made the USSR so bad are starting to happen here, and I'm told that this is okay because we're the USA, and we're inherently better.

      It used to be that the USA was great and free because we didn't do those things. Now we're great and free because we're the USA, and therefore its okay for us to do these things. Greatness is now an inherent property of the USA, not the result of our actions.

      The sad part is that I really believed what I was taught as a kid, that the USA was great because it did great things, and seeing what's going on now, even if it isn't nearly as bad as the USSR, strikes deeply at that childish part of me that still believes in honor, freedom, and greatness.

  • by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:39PM (#15779051) Journal
    "All men are guilty. They're born innocent, but it doesn't last." -- from "le circle rouge" (1970)
  • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:40PM (#15779068)
    The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.

    If true, these people have just admitted they weren't subjecting innocent people to punishment because they'd lose their job otherwise and be unable to support their family -- an understandable, if still morally weak position. No, they did it because they wanted more money. Or a dental plan. Or a longer vacation. That's what's known as being stunning and embarassingly selfish.

    At the risk of godwinning myself, what's that famous quote about the holocause that goes along the line of "there will always be number-crunchers behind the scenes eager to see if they can make the count even higher next time?"
    • Ironically enough, the Air marshalls are basically ensuring they won't stop any terrorists. The list will become so bloated, cumbersome, invasive and obnoxious that people will stop taking it seriously. The real work of hunting down potential terrorists - that some of the marshalls did - will be drowned out by innocent people who looked at the lazy marshalls cross eyed.

      Often, beurocracy cannot sustain its own weight. It expands and expands until it cannot do the purpose for which it was designed. Then it gets axed by a budget cutter, is reincarnated as lightweight version of itself, and expands until... you get the idea. It isn't a viscious cycle so much as a waste of resources and failed programs.
  • Sheep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by prophet5590 ( 866999 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:41PM (#15779077)
    "Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them." - Frederick Douglass
  • by GlowingWhispers ( 952001 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:44PM (#15779118)
    A couple of thoughts. 1. Sadly various 'US no fly lists' are being used by airlines in countries that don't yet have their own list -- e.g. Canada -- in an attempt to reduce liability. Meaning, the implications of this article are greater than some might realize. 2. A key question about no-fly lists is the criteria used to put people on it. Ideally, it should be transparent so, for instance, everyone out there with a criminal record isn't concerned every time they get on a plane that law enforcement officials will descend upon them. Beyond the quota issue, this article points to a series of systemic problems relating to the criteria used to make these lists, which from my reading seem to be: a. arbitrary b. left to individual discretion c. without oversight or review checks and balances d. unappealable, regardless of how flimsy the evidence is. As more and more countries draft their own no-fly lists, such issues are likely to grow in importance and become bigger problems within the international (rather just American) political sphere.
  • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves ( 236787 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:45PM (#15779126)
    There is an article [] linked to from that page about how horribly mismanaged the Federal Air Marshals Service is.
    • by mambodeath ( 515273 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @05:22PM (#15779489)
      i think people are missing the point. there IS NO threat that these air marshalls are supposedly there to protect us from. (this is clearly obvious from tfa and the one linked in this thread.) there may be miscellaneous threats, but they cannot protect us from those any better than pre-air marshall security.

      they are there for psychological puposes, so that people who think there is a threat feel safer. people can point to some action that the government is doing. "look, they have air marshalls and no-fly lists."

      there is no worldwide terror organzation or network. go to and download (bbc documentary) the power of nightmares (i wonder how long it'll be up?) i have friends who work for "homeland security" and it's all a sham. too bad it costs us money.
  • Quantity or Quality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NMagic ( 982573 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:47PM (#15779149)
    This seems to be a case of education. They haven't invested the time/funds to train the marshals enough to recognize who they're looking for. Instead of fixing the problem, they compensate with higher numbers to keep up with the odds.

    This is your typical case of quantity being chosen instead of quality.

  • Wrong focus (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kesch ( 943326 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:47PM (#15779155)
    I think these guys are spending too much time looking for possible terrorists and not enough time on the real threats.

    Like snakes.

    What I'm really scared of is mothaf*cking snakes on mothaf*cking planes!
  • by jt418-93 ( 450715 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:48PM (#15779161)
    the system is broken from the top down. the only solution is to format the goverment and reinstall. this image is corrupt.
  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:59PM (#15779262) Homepage
    coming for the poor saps who were idiotic enough to go to the media while they were still employed by the Contractor/Agency. The Federal agency may have bid the contract out won't do anything different. They get to blame someone else for being a "bad apple."

    The Marshalls just made the career limiting move of the rest of their *life* for what exactly?

    For the next person that finds themselves in a similar situation, learn how to do this the right way.

    1. If you disagree strongly enough, find another job.
    2. While you are finding said job, get some professional help objectivly evaluating your options and creating a strategy.
    3. Map out reasonable tactics and choose the plan that is best for you and your loved ones.
    4. Execute plan and prepare for unexpected things. In general, the contractor you worked for will publicly discredit you and do what it can to punish you.

    If you have done steps 1, 2, and 3 right, there's some protection from events in #4.

  • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @05:05PM (#15779329)
    *sighs* There is a reason that Americans are distrustful of governments, their own included. The article may have identified one. Mindless stupidity.

    Why? Because even if governments adhere to what we might call the "industry-average in mindless stupidity" governments can cause far more damage than most industries. From the article:

    "Q: What kind of impact would it have for a flying individual to be named in an SDR?

    A: That could have serious impact ... They could be placed on a watch list. They could wind up on databases that identify them as potential terrorists or a threat to an aircraft. It could be very serious," said Don Strange, a former agent in charge of air marshals in Atlanta. He lost his job attempting to change policies inside the agency."

    Ok, this former agent lost his job because he tried to change policies inside the agency. Anyone want to bet this was over SDR quota? And what other enlightened "policies" are in effect? And yes ... such things will stick around ... if only because it's a bit hard to shop around for alternative governments.

    Ok ... so putting someone's name in an SDR has potentially serious consequences for that person. Add to this the (probably MBA-driven) desire for "quantifiable targets" and see the result. From the article "Although the agency strongly denies any presence of a quota system, Las Vegas-based air marshals have produced documents that show their performance review is directly linked to producing SDRs.".

    Great ... just great. That leaves us with only one option ... don't fly near the end of the month.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @05:21PM (#15779482) Homepage Journal
    If any layer of the organization, the game becomes hitting the numbers set for it rather than achieving the mission of the organization, then chaos will ensue at that and all lower levels.

    It may take the form of playing games with when sales can be booked as income. It may be mucking with projections. It may be slamming the phone on the customer to goose up the number of calls per hour you handle.

    Measurable objectives are important, but they're only half the story. You need leadership too. Strong programs of performance measurement, in the absence of strong leadership, degenerate into numbers games that can be beaten.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @05:48PM (#15779709) Homepage Journal
    I know a guy who is on the no-fly list. It's a real bitch, because his job requires him to fly a lot.

    So, he goes to the airport, checks his luggage, deals with the BS of being on the list, and flys to his job.

    Whereupon he gets his luggage, puts on his uniform, gets his piece, puts on his ID, gets in his plane, and takes off.

    He's a commercial airline pilot - authorized to carry a pistol in the cockpit, and to fly a plane full of people.

    But he cannot board a flight as a passenger without a bunch of BS because his name is on the No Fly list.
  • by ShaggyZet ( 74769 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @06:00PM (#15779800) Homepage
    you don't have anything to worry about right?

    Isn't that what the willful violators of our civil rights always tell the public? This sort of blows that out of the water.

    I don't even know where to start arguing with this.

    A second management memo, also dated July 2004, said, "There may come an occasion when you just don't see anything out of the ordinary for a month at a time, but I'm sure that if you are looking for it, you'll see something."

    Are we really doing that bad a job of "fighting it abroad" that there are enough terrorists flying around the country for the thousands of air marshals to file one report every month?
  • by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @06:33PM (#15780105) Homepage Journal
    It has always been there. And not just in the US, in many other democracy's At many places traffic policemen get a higher raise if they give more traffic tickets. So what do you have. Some poor schmuck who was crossing the signal and light went yellow get the boot. Its easier to ticket him, though the risk posed by some jerk weaving through lanes is much more. The most balatant misuse of this is in India. Set the speed limit to 80kmph. Everybody who hits 80+ be it 81kmph get a 400rs ticket. If somebody is doing 150, that chap also gets 400rs fine. But vehicles with no tail lights which actually pose a threat at night, are let go, because the fine is very very low in the books. At the end of the month, a percentage of fines collected is given to the cops. So rather than catch jerks who jump red lights, which would involve giving a chase and at the most give you a 100rs fine, its great to hide on an empty road with stupid speed limit(50kmph) knowing that someone doing 51 will definately come.
  • by chris_sawtell ( 10326 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:24PM (#15781236) Journal
    ... with this sort on thing happening I won't be travelling via the US next time I go to Europe.
    I think I'd prefer to go via Japan and Russia now-a-days. Seriously, US citizens, it really _is_ time for a regime change in the White House. The Republicans seem to have taken too many pages out of the Nazi rule books for my liking.
  • by ajv ( 4061 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:33PM (#15781269) Homepage
    All I did was try to enter the US on my existing E3 visa. Because I apparently can't enter on that visa unless I'm working for the employer during that trip, you can't enter on the E3. You need to be on the visa waiver program, not the E3. WTF? It's a visa! It's far, far harder to get than the VWP.

    So I was made to fill out the visa waiver form, and by the time I got back, I found myself on the watchlist. Do the USA really want me to come live in the US and work towards their GDP? Or not?

    I'll find out in the next three weeks what it exactly means to be on the watchlist. I'm flying all over the country, so if it does take more time, I will be REALLY pissed. If it means I get stopped in Australia, then I'm going to be REALLY REALLY pissed, as it's completely bogus. I had committed no crime :( Not in the USA, not in Australia.


    ps. My day job is security. This is security theatre. The folks who run the TSA should be ashamed of themselves. They are no friends of the security industry.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"