Friday, December 01, 2006

A little bit of disillusionment

In case you thought that wiretapping was bad, check this out. Here are some of the highlights:

The scores are assigned to people entering and leaving the United States after computers assess their travel records, including where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor-vehicle records, their previous one-way travel, their seating preference, and what kind of meal they ordered.

Better think twice before pre-ordering that kosher or vegetarian meal. Everyone knows that Jews and vegans are soft on terrorists.

The government notice says ATS data may be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring decisions and in granting licenses, security clearances, contracts or other benefits. In some cases, the data may be shared with courts, Congress and even private contractors.

Well, there's something to be said for near-total disclosure, even if the subject of the record is the only one who can't see it.

The Homeland Security privacy impact statement added that "an individual might not be aware of the reason additional scrutiny is taking place, nor should he or she" because that might compromise the ATS' methods.

Or it might, you know, reveal that the criteria are pure bullshit. Either or.

Nevertheless, Ahern said that any traveler who objected to additional searches or interviews could ask to speak to a supervisor to complain. Homeland Security's privacy impact statement said that, if asked, border agents would hand complaining passengers a one-page document that describes some, but not all, of the records that agents check. It also refers complaints to Custom and Border Protection's Customer Satisfaction Unit.

Does it take a whole page to write out, "Fuck you, it's a secret"?

"If this catches one potential terrorist," he said, "this is a success."

Uh-huh. Does that mean if it doesn't catch a potential terrorist we get to can it? Also, exactly what is a "potential terrorist"? Someone who intends to attempt a terrorist act? Someone who plots one? Someone who might be sympathetic to someone either attempting or plotting one? Nothing like deliberately vague language!


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