Another black eye for the privatization of public tasks: The Department of Homeland Security is taking over from the airlines the job of checking airline passenger names against watch lists, The Washington Post reports.
Along with that change, passengers will be required to provide full name, birth date and gender (take no chances) before they will get a boarding pass. That's actually a consumer protection -- designed to reduce the number of false matches with listed persons with the same name.
"If you don't provide the data, then you are going to put yourself in a position where you are probably going to be a selectee," subject at a minimum to greater future security scrutiny, Secretary Chertoff said in remarks announcing the program at Reagan National Airport.Mismatches have been a huge problem. Among those who have been blocked from flying because of name confusion: infants, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Catherine Stevens, wife of Sen. Ted Stevens (former pop singer Cat Stevens is on the no-fly list).
"We know that threats to our aviation system persist," he said. Secure Flight "will increase security and efficiency, it'll protect passengers' privacy, and it will reduce the number of false-positive misidentifications."
DHS has received more than 43,500 requests for redress since February 2007 and has completed 24,000 of them, with the rest under review or awaiting more documentation, TSA spokesman Christopher White said.
The government take-over mean DHS will apply the "most up-to-date list information and more sophisticated computer programs" to avoid sweeping innocent travellers up with the lists and avoid to need to give foreign carriers access to the lists.
The ACLU says the problem of DHS's giant (400,000 names) terrorist list still remains.
DHS's redress program "has proven to be a black hole that sucks in documents and information from those misidentified but never emits a final resolution to help affected travelers get off the lists and stay off the lists," said Caroline Fredrickson, head of the ACLU Washington legislative office.