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The Courts Government Privacy News

John Gilmore's Search for the Mandatory ID Law 1568

Posted by Zonk
from the when-making-things-easy-isn't-a-good-idea dept.
powerline22 writes "John Gilmore, the millionare who cofounded the EFF, has been prohibited from travelling because he refused to show an ID while boarding an airplane. He's been under this self-imposed ban since 2002. From the article: "The gate agent asked for his ID. Gilmore asked her why. It is the law, she said. Gilmore asked to see the law. Nobody could produce a copy. To date, nobody has. The regulation that mandates ID at airports is 'Sensitive Security Information.' The law, as it turns out, is unavailable for inspection. What started out as a weekend trip to Washington became a crawl through the courts in search of an answer to Gilmore's question: Why?"
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John Gilmore's Search for the Mandatory ID Law

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  • Because. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by inertia@yahoo.com (156602) * on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:25PM (#11798423) Homepage Journal
    Good. 10 points for confounding the airport security. But, if you pulled the same thing with a highway patrol officer, I think you'd end up with handcuffs, not a copy of the law.

    Sure, eventually someone would produce the law, but was it worth it?

    I agree, this sounds suspicious, though. I wish I had the money to test such systems.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:35PM (#11798530)
    I have a friend who is doing 26 years in federal prison for drugs. He and his associates drew the attention of federal authorities in part because of air travel habits.

    Forcing people to show ID will help the feds make cases. It's not going to stop terrorists. They can get fake IDs.

  • by einhverfr (238914) <chris@travers.gmail@com> on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:40PM (#11798581) Homepage Journal
    He was employee No. 5 at Sun Microsystems, which made Unix, the free software of the Web, the world standard.

    WTF? I guess it is too much to ask for journalists to get a clue....
  • This is the line? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by evolutionaryLawyer (838264) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:48PM (#11798653)
    So let's see, the government can have a secret court issue a secret subpoena and go to my ISP to see all of my online activity. Screw the ISP, they can come into MY HOUSE without my knowledge do whatever they want and leave, and this is (purportedly) legal?

    Our government is giving prisoners over to other governments with horrible human rights records just so they can torture them, because we have laws against it. We have a government that has suspended habeas corpus, one of the few civil rights the framers thought was so important that it was in the constitution without an amendment.

    All of this is being done to fight the "war on terror". And the thing he decides to protest is being asked to show ID? Wow...
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:52PM (#11798692) Homepage Journal
    My favorite quote from the article is the following:

    country after showing a boarding pass and one form of government-issued photo ID and arrived in rental cars that required a valid driver's license and one major credit card.

    Everything else I agree with, but if somebody does not have a license, they should not be entitled to drive.
    The license is a test of worthyness, I don't care WHO they are, just that they have proven experience handling a deadly weapon.
  • by finkployd (12902) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @09:03PM (#11798785) Homepage
    It reminds me of when my town's high school started making kids wear their sudent ID's around their necks in response to Columbine, with the stated purpose of trying to prevent such a situation in our town by discouraging unauthorized people from entering the school.

    Only problem is, there has not been a school shooting I know if that was not perpetrated by a student who is authorized to be at that school.


    After Columbine there was a rash of investigative reporters trying to sneak into schools to show how easy it was get into a high school. Many security mesaures had to be taken just to prevent this. No joking.

    Finkployd
  • by VidEdit (703021) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @09:16PM (#11798886)
    You need to RTFA at http://www.postgazette.com/pg/05058/462446.stm :

    As Gilmore headed up the boarding ramp a security guard yanked him from line. According to court papers, a security agent named Reggie Wauls informed Gilmore he would not be flying that day. "He said, 'I didn't let you fly because you said you had an ID and wouldn't show it,'" Gilmore said. "I asked, 'Does that mean if I'd left it at home I'd be on the plane?' He said, 'I didn't say that.'"

    So, actually he wasn't allowed on the plane. There is a "Secret ID" law--so secret the government at first wouldn't even awknolge if it did or did not exist. Even today, the government won't cite the secret rule that allegedly requires people to show ID, saying that it is secret and can't be revealed without harming security.

    It's official. We now live in a police state, with secret searches, secret evidence, secret arrests, secret detentions without charges, secret touture, secret laws and even secret legal arguments. It sounds too bad to be true, but each allegation I've listed is documented and verifiable.

  • Flying without ID (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jezmund (102188) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @09:17PM (#11798888) Homepage
    You can fly without ID, you just have to go through the "extra-careful" security search. About 3 or 4 weeks ago, I was in line for the security checkpoint when I realized I couldn't find my driver's license. Before I could search my luggage for it, the guy at the entrance told me it was OK and made some sort of mark on my ticket and waved me through. At the metal detectors, they checked my ticket, saw the mark, and pulled me aside for the full pat-down and whatnot. I was surprised, because I remember reading about Gilmore's crusade a while ago and figured you couldn't fly without ID. To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if nobody at TSA knows for sure what the rules are. I fly quite a bit, and rules vary from airport to airport and from week to week. Sometimes screeners will insist I have to remove my sneakers and pass them through the X-Ray, and other times they don't care.
  • Re:What a dick. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by faedle (114018) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @09:19PM (#11798898) Homepage Journal
    Except, as has been documented before, the ID requirement does absolutely nothing to increase security. All 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 would have been able to freely board, as they would have had the necessary documents and likely would have not necessarily been on any watchlist.
  • Re:Dude! wtf? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zoloto (586738) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @09:40PM (#11799048)
    I cop did that to me while I was in New York a while back visiting family. And he wouldn't tell me. I was doing the speed limit, signaling when I changed lanes etc. etc.

    One thing to note, my car at the time was equiped with a video recorder next to the odometer. Sound and all. When the cop refused to identify why I was being pulled over and asked for I.D. and proof of insurnace (after 5 minutes).. I simply pulled away and called my lawyer, who promptly met me at the next exit.

    Video and all, I was exonerated from any charge and the police department was spared a harassment charge and any "financial damage" by me - however it made the news for a few days in my local area. And a formal apology to boot. I tell you, sticking it to "the man" is one thing... but making sure abuse doesn't happen and not tolerating any bullying sure left a warm spot in my heart. Not to mention "fan" mail I actually did recieve.

    Cops don't pull me over in NY anymore unless I do something wrong.

    -z
  • by GnarlyNome (660878) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @09:42PM (#11799066) Journal
    Dosen't a law have to be published in the Federal Register to be legal?
    http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html
    on the other hand it may just a regulation
  • No (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zoloto (586738) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:00PM (#11799208)
    You are not required to carry ID with you at all when you drive. You are only required to furnish proof of a licence to drive within an applicable time period or you get a fine. They can still look you up by name and address. At least in the state of NY and most New England states, they can pull up your picture as well. Having an licence with your picture simply makes it easier for them.

    Most cops I have met are really nice guys and are pretty lenient about a lot of things. Including not having I.D. when you drive. I don't carry any ID with me when I drive/fly/whatever. It's not that I'm a raving zealot about being free, it's simply something I never have done, nor was ever inclined to do.

    It's natural to pay for things in cash, or over the internet, drive and fly without ID. It's not hard. You simply can't be clueless about it and even ask for help in situations where it'll be a hassle when someone does ask for ID (such as in airports).

    You should never expect to have someone request ID unless you've done something wrong as in illegal, against the law etc.

    I've spent a couple of days in jail since I didn't produce my ID for something I wasn't even involved in. I gave them my first name and called my lawyer. Nuff said. Since I didn't do anything wrong, they had no business knowing who I was.

    Look, I'm not a privacy anal retentive person - but when people try and snoop into your business, people who don't know you or especially a government agent or agency when I have done nothing wrong - a "suspicion" based on profiling or my personality or any thing else they deem as "unnormal" is simply wrong and goes against principles of freedom the founding fathers wanted to ensure we had.

    Not to mention I'm a white, upper middle class american. It's not like I'm an easy target to racial profiling (my apologies, but racial targeting and profiling is a sickening problem and I really can't stand it).

    People don't have a head on their shoulders these days or excercise common sense. It's truely pitiful.
  • by Duke (23059) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:02PM (#11799225)
    I noticed that, at the security line, it was always "suggested" that I take off my shoes and put them through the X-ray scanner. I asked if I was "required" to take off my shoes, and was told I was not. But any time I walked through with my shoes on, I was pulled aside for hand scanning and was required to take off my shoes. On one trip, I asked an intelligent-looking security agent if I was required to take my shoes off and he told me "No." I then asked him if I would be automatically pulled aside for hand scanning if I wore my shoes and he gave me an "I could be fired for making this smile so unambiguous" smile. So, I guess the rules ablut shoes are secret, too, although it would take any normal person about 15 minutes of watching to figure it out. I have been really pissed every time since going through security, knowing my government refuses to be straight with me. What if we all wore our shoes through the line?
  • by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:15PM (#11799343)
    Although this doesn't have to do with the article exactly, the article did encourage me to news.google.com search John Gilmore to find out more about him.

    I came across something that led me to http://www.reason.com/0308/fe.bd.suspected.shtml [reason.com].

    What caught my attention in the above article is the below. My comment is that poor people are going to go for the supermarket loyalty cards because it's cheaper to pay 50% of the price rather than the full price for certain items. Why pay $6 per gallon of milk when you can get it for $3? One word of advice, if you can, leave your last name and house number off the form you fill out. At least that way, you remain a bit anonymous and the store gets their demographical information still, assuming that's what it's for.

    From article I found: The popularity of supermarket club cards that collate permanent records of your grocery spending just so you can get 12-packs of Diet 7-Up on the cheap.
  • Re:What a dick. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:20PM (#11799372)
    "I'm all for civil liberties, but this guy is distracting people from doing their jobs..."

    It's good to see you are all for civil liberties. But now that you mention it, those civil liberties are pretty distracting.

    Anyhow, we can tell you're all for civil liberties that don't distract people.

    It's good to see you standing up for such strong principles. Civil liberties, and freedom and justice for all, oh, I mean, as long as they're not too distracting!

  • I don't get it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by autophile (640621) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:21PM (#11799380)
    I must be missing the point here. Secret law? If airport security requires passengers to show their ID before boarding, then either it's a law, in which case it's not so secret, or the airlines are requiring security to check ID's, in which case it's the airlines' terms of use of their private property.

    So why does it matter so much that you be identified before boarding? Isn't it true that private property can have any restriction not explicitly prohibited by law?

    --Rob

  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by berzerke (319205) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:27PM (#11799428) Homepage

    ...I bet you show your receipt at the door at Fry's too...

    Well, on the few times I've shopped there, I don't. Just ignore the people at the door and walk past them. I've yet to have one bother me.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:28PM (#11799439)
    Not exactly falsehoods - lies to children, a simplification, or broad generalisations.
    Sun made Unix
    They made operating sytems that work in a similar enough fashion to what was developed at AT&T to be called so - so despite not having the trademark that is effectively true. Linux is also effectively unix, even gnu/hurd is too. Sun is definitely a major unix vendor.
    Unix is the "free software of the web,"
    Yes, the net was built and generally runs on versions of unix - but not necessarily the one written by AT&T.
    Unix is "the world standard"
    Yes - win95,98,ME,NT,2k all have major differences which make it difficult from programs to run on all of those platforms while there are published standards which allow things to interoperate on different versions of unix. Plus there are a lot more computers in the world than just PCs, and if Microsoft had the world standard there would not be an etc/hosts file on MS PCs, but some sort of weird registry thing on unix web servers.

    The sentence is true, Sun were one of the main players in the net and web long before Microsoft even put TCP/IP into their operating system, so they got to set the standard and not Microsoft. I started to use linux in 1995 because it was pointless getting onto the net with a Microsoft OS - it couldn't even run my 14400bps modem at full speed due to crappy serial drivers - then once you were on it was all unix hosts out there.

  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:29PM (#11799450)
    Oh, for fuck's sake. He's on a mission to test this, remember? His PURPOSE was to test this, and pursue it in court, and now you're going to use this bullshit argument on me? He made a premeditated decision to politely test this system, and see if he could shake loose the whole "papers, please" issue.

    Since that is the case, hell fucking yes he should have tried to get on the plane at SFO. But you choose to take the "um, aren't you surprised he didn't try after he'd been rejected once" tack. By your logic, he shouldn't have even gone to the second airport at all! They told him they'd allow him to fly if he submitted to a search. And while that may have sounded familiar to him, if his goal was to go on a crusade with this, he should have tested it again, yes? And don't give me any bullshit about embarrassment, because he was prepared for this since his goal was to challenge this system.

    And yes, I do expect he would have been let on, because *I* have flown without ID before. Twice now! After Sept 11. I lost my wallet and all I had was my plane ticket, going from ORD to MSN. And yes, I had to submit to the special search, but I still flew. So yes, I do expect he could have flown with no ID, albeit with much hassle. Of course you won't believe this, but no matter.

    Look, I'm not saying that the system is great, and I think John's cause is worthwhile. I just think that exaggerating things (i.e., that he can't fly with no ID, even though SFO was about to let him - and we'll never know either way, will we - or, that this is a universal issue of being able to travel without "identity papers", when this case applies only to air travel, and there are numerous other ways to travel - and it doesn't matter if they're slower - without ID. The point is that he shouldn't hurt this case by overdramatizing things.)
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:33PM (#11799476) Homepage Journal
    I can definitely understand having strong, rather passionate negative feelings towards certain individuals within US politics who *claim* to be Christian. I experience such feelings myself. (I won't name names, but I don't think I really need to...the individuals in question know who they are, and so do most of the rest of us)

    However...if hatred of such "Christians" extends to hatred of Christ himself, it might interest you to know that Jesus most likely would actually share your feelings towards such people. One of the things which got him killed was a habit of several times becoming furious with the religious leaders of the day, reprimanding them and calling them hypocrites, among other things.

    It always interests me when I see people (justifiably, IMHO) expressing anger/hatred/frustration towards Bush and his followers, but at the same time mistakenly extending that to Christ, because they make the assumption that Jesus and Bush are ideologically/attitudinally similar. What people would find out if they took the time to do some research on the matter however is that Christ and Bush are actually diametric opposites...In fact I can hardly think of two individuals who have less in common with each other.

    My motivation in pointing this out is not that I'm in any way "turn or burn" fundamentalist, but that I'm someone who in a hopefully more moderate, historical perspective sees Christ as having been a worthwhile human being...Sufficiently so that at times it grieves me somewhat that he is in any way associated with the likes of Bush. I'm not saying that I'm angry with you here...Assuming that Bush and Jesus are similar is a mistake a lot of people make, primarily due to the claims Bush makes...but it is a mistake that is based on a lack of accurate information. I don't believe anyone's going to go to hell for having the wrong idea here...but having the historical record straight in virtually any instance is a good idea.
  • by demachina (71715) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:40PM (#11799520)
    Your point about Israel is spot on though I have reservations about armed air marshals. At that point you are putting someone with a potent weapon on the airplane. If a terrorist group infiltrates someone in to the air marshall program they can walk on to a plane with a weapon that might be able to breach the cockpit(not sure how bullet proof they are).

    Infiltration is not real likely in Israel because the number of plans and marshalls are small and their religion/ethnicity autoscreens them. The Air Marshall program in the U.S. is much bigger, chaotic and incompetent.

    The other risk is several terrorists could overpower the air marshall and seize his weapon or the air marshall could accidentally cause decompression with his gun shooting at terrorists.

    Not a big fan of the crew having gun's either. Again you could infiltrate a terrorist on the crew as may have happened with the Egyptian air line that may have been intentionally crashed in to the sea by one of the pilots.
  • Re:Because. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by damiam (409504) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:42PM (#11799536)
    Umm, no. If you're riding in a car and a cop pulls it over, they have no right at all to demand ID, any more than if you were just walking down the street. Now, if you're driving the car, that's a different story. But this guy isn't trying to pilot a plane without ID, just ride in one.
  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LinuxInDallas (73952) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:42PM (#11799541)
    Rules are fine. The point I found disturbing was that there are rules that we are required to follow, and we are not allowed to know what they are!
  • by redelm (54142) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:47PM (#11799579) Homepage
    Those door checkers at Fry's, Sam's Club & others aren't checking on customers so much as checking up on their own cashiers. They represent a tangible risk for any cashier who might be tempted to undercharge a confederate. I cooperate.

  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crimethinker (721591) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:50PM (#11799592)
    I bet you show your receipt at the door at Fry's too...

    I used to show my receipt at Fry's, until folks like John Gilmore woke me up, so to speak; I haven't shown the receipt since then. My reasoning goes like this: the store is open to the public, they have "loss prevention agents" all over the store, and the path from the cash registers to the exit is segregated from the rest of the merchandise. You may see my receipt only after I am arrested (falsely) for shoplifting. And then you may see my lawyer's card.

    -paul

  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Cap'n Steve (771146) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:50PM (#11799594) Homepage
    So I'm a sheep because I'd rather spend two seconds doing something that won't inconvenience me in any way rather than fight for who knows how long for no discernible benefit?

    New definition: Sheep are nature's efficient, sane children.
  • Re:I'm sorry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by demachina (71715) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:54PM (#11799622)
    "but many of Gilmore's own comments echo of Nazi Germany or Soviet states, and I simply don't think the comparison is apt"

    I think you would change your toon if a terrorist starts using Dave Schroeder as an alias, and the next time you try to fly your name matches the "Do Not Fly" list and a couple guys in suits come and take you away in front of everyone at the gate for interrogation, especially if you are flying with coworkers, friends or family. They are going to make you look like criminal or a terrorist.

    The only reason you are so cavalier about this insanity is you haven't suffered the worst it is routinely dishing out to innocent people. That is how totalitarian states start out. As long as they only inflict their madness on a small percentage of the people most people wont give a damn, as long as its not them.

    To continue with my scenario, after having been taken aside once then you know you are going to get taken aside everytime you fly, you may not be able to fly at all, you may miss flights and your job may be in jeopardy. At this point you will start desperately trying to find out why this is happening and to figure out how to make it stop. At this point everyone will tell you this is a secret "regulation" and the secretness will devestate you. Their is either no proceedure for getting your name off the list, or if there is its secret. If you want to fly you will either have to get your congressman to lobby the bureaucracy on your half, or get your name legally changed, or use a false ID name and take even greater risk, or stop flying.

    Orwellian indeed.

    A guy responded to one of my posts elsewhere, just check with Israel, they've been dealing with this problem successfully for decades.

    - They armor their cockpits
    - They put armed undercover air marshall's on all flights
    - They screen passengers for weapons and explosives

    They don't even attempt an Orwellian "Do Not Fly" list because they know its an exercise in futility. This monstrosity is entirely a product of bureaucratic incompetence and anyone willing to fight it deserves a medal.
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @11:02PM (#11799688)
    I've always wondered why people do this...I never have, and I have never had any issue with the drones that post the exits, they just let me pass. What is it they are in fact checking - that I didn't put some gum in my bag between the cash register and the door? Am I letting them verify that I am not a crook? Should I assume I am a crook unless they swipe my reciept with a pink marker?

    YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO SHOW YOUR RECEIPT TO FRY'S EMPLOYEES POST PURCHASE.

  • Where do you live? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Excen (686416) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @11:19PM (#11799810) Homepage Journal
    their plan to deforest is called The Healthy Forests Initiative

    I know I'm going to be modded off-topic, but I really don't care, considering how misinformed you are. You live in an urban area don't you? I grew up and still currently live in an area where over 90% of the land is either national or state forest. The current status of our national forests, at least in my state, are pathetic at best. The majority of national forest land is in desperate need of either controlled fires, which are wasteful, dangerous and tough to control, or selective logging. Not all logging is the "Slash-and-Burn-The-Rainforests" type stuff you urban hipsters would like average americans to believe. It has been proven time and time again that selective logging of trees that are dying or failing to thrive allows for greater overall tree health, greater lumber productivity, and allows for greater wildlife density when compared to areas in which proper forest management techniques are not allowed. Have you ever driven through the Squaw Valley area in Nevada and Utah? Those "Forests" are, for all practical purposes dead: they have no wildlife, all the trees are either dead or dying, and the forest isn't even aesthetically pleasing. To dismiss the public forest policy enacted by Bush and company merely because you disagree with other aspects of his policy is shortsighted and harmful to many different species of animals, not just the humans who derive a living and/or recreation from national forest land.

    To quote a very wise fat child, "Stupid Hippies piss me off."
  • by ChaosCube (862389) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @11:23PM (#11799837) Homepage
    I agree, we do live in a police state...in the name of freedom, of course. And yes, each of those allegations you have listed, has documented reports or hard evidence to back it up. The question is, how do we solve the problem without ending up in a civil war? That's where I see this heading. If things do not change, some one will get fed up with it, and we will be in a state of war, internally.
  • by acroyear (5882) <jws-slashdot@javaclientcookbook.net> on Sunday February 27, 2005 @11:40PM (#11799958) Homepage Journal
    didn't see this post before i made my own, but i agree entirely. similarly, the credit card request is a specific form of credit check, a MUCH cheaper one than actually paying the credit agencies for the background check every time you want to do something like this (and if such a check happens to much, it can hurt your credit rating, too). its definitely better to let the credit card companies do that work and trust them to have done it right.
  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Br00se (211727) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @11:47PM (#11800025)
    They can ask for anything they want. It doesn't mean you are required to give in. It is their private property and they can ask you to leave. Refusal would be tresspassing. They can only detain you if they suspect you committed a crime. When the police arrive if there is probabal cause THEN the cops can search you.
  • by koehn (575405) * on Sunday February 27, 2005 @11:56PM (#11800072)
    Flying on someone else's ticket is trivial. Here's how trivial it would be (I've never actually flown this way, or allowed anyone else to fly on my ticket this way):

    1. Have John Citizen buy you the plane ticket you want, on an airline that supports web-based checkin (where you can print your own boarding pass). Several airlines support this today.

    2. Have John Citizen go through the checkin process, but instead of printing his boarding pass, save it as HTML, and include the graphics that come with it (IE and Moz both support this, not sure about the rest).

    3. Take the HTML, and put your name in place of John Citizen. Print the boarding pass. I've verified that this works, but I've never ever tried to fly on an altered boarding pass.

    4. Take the boarding pass and display it at the airport with your photo ID. You're in!

    The security folks don't ever check to see if your name is on the terrorist watch list, they assume that the airline's reservation systems did that. All they do is ensure that the photo ID you present matches the boarding pass you present. Since the ticket was purchased under John Citizen's name, your name will never be known to anybody at the airline or the government! Also, the gate agent doesn't check to see if the name on the boarding pass matches the name on the reservation (although if they did, you could always carry a copy with John Citizen's name on it).

    Again, this just reinforces Gilmore's argument that the ID requirement is rediculous. Even somebody on the terrorist watch list could fly this way, assuming they weren't smart enough to get phony credentials.
  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aminorex (141494) on Monday February 28, 2005 @12:21AM (#11800217) Homepage Journal
    If there was a legitimate rule, they wouldn't be keeping it secret. The only plausible reason for the secrecy is that there is no rule, they're just fucking with you because they can. Supposing there were such a rule, it would be a patent violation of the natural right of travel. If the airline doesn't want to carry me unless I submit to a proctological examination, that's their look-out, but it's beyond annoying that they pretend it's due to a legitimate legal requirement. It's not. I stopped flying (after years of routine bicoastalism) because it's just not worth it. Take my daughter on a U.S. flight, to get wand-raped by some semi-mongoloid TSA goon? As if.
  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by catalina (213767) <jmattclark@@@gmail...com> on Monday February 28, 2005 @12:24AM (#11800231) Homepage Journal
    I bet you show your receipt at the door at Fry's too...

    At HD and Fry's here, the checker also marks the receipt. Has anyone who skips the check ever had occasion to return anything? Can you return an item without a valid, annotated receipt?
  • by Stephen Samuel (106962) <samuel&bcgreen,com> on Monday February 28, 2005 @12:42AM (#11800309) Homepage Journal
    somebody is lying here

    The airlines claim that they're just following the law, and that they have no choice.

    The government brief claims that there is no such law, but that if there was there would be a good reason to keep it secret. .. In other words, they're arguing generally to have secret laws that they can enforce against us whenever they want -- No public debate, not even any public notice, just a

    I'm sorry sir, but I'm going to have to arrest you

    Why??
    Because you broke the law.
    What law?
    I'm sorry, I can't tell you. It's a secret law.
    Can you tell me why the law exists?
    No sir. If I told you that, I could get arrested too.
    So what can I do?
    You'll just have to trust me, sir and let me take you to jail.
    Oh, OK.....
    Thank you sir. Let me just put these handcuffs on -- regulation, you see
    Right... ouch! ... Now, when will I be able to defend myself in front of a judge?
    Well, if you insist, sir, but I don't think that anybody's been able to successfully defend themselves aganst this law.
    Why not? -- No, wait. let me guess! You can't tell me!
    Very good sir, you're learning.
    Well, I'm not learning what I want to know.
    I understand sir, but I think you should also know, that people who don't plead guilty tend to get stiffer sentences.
    Why?
    ... sigh ...
    Right. Can you tell me what kind of sentence I can expect? ... I didn't think so.
    I feel like I'm writing a Monty Python script.

    Getting back to my original note though: The airlines claim that there is a law and they're just enforcing it. The government claims that there is no law. If nothing else, this case is worthwhile to just figure out who's telling the truth, so that the next step can be taken in challenging this law or the lie of it's purported existence.

  • by Unnngh! (731758) on Monday February 28, 2005 @12:49AM (#11800340)
    I realize that your question is rhetorical, but I believe the rationale behind this is that some potential thief sees that they are stopping everyone at the door and becomes terrified that if he steals something, he will be caught.

    I'm sure people still shoplift all the time, but maybe the loss prevention over cost/bad-will ratio is high enough to warrant it. I would be curious to know...it is offensive enough that it really should be warranted.

  • Roman Law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Monday February 28, 2005 @12:54AM (#11800358)
    In the days of the Eastern Roman Empire, the laws were required to be publically posted before they were deemed enforceable. This didn't bother Emperor Justinian, though, who hired scribes to write the laws in the smallest font possible--and then had those laws posted high up on the walls, such that they couldn't be read from the ground.
  • Re:Dude! wtf? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WhatsAProGingrass (726851) on Monday February 28, 2005 @01:09AM (#11800427) Homepage
    A little off topic but...Isn't it the Airports right to have rules too? Is South Dakota, its a law that says you can drink under 21 if you are married to someone that is older than 21 at a bar. However, the bars have their own rules and most do not allow ANYONE to drink under 21. I know the point of his not showing an ID is about the law that exists but can not be shown to anyone. But still, if i owned my own business, i would hope to have any kind of ID system I wanted. No id, then no admitance.
  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TWX (665546) on Monday February 28, 2005 @01:13AM (#11800451)
    "Here's how I look at it, I WANT them to check receipts. Why? Because it keeps people honost. Theft raises merchanise cost and I don't enjoy paying extra so some dork can steal the same stuff that I'm paying for."

    Having known several people who worked at Fry's Electronics in Tempe Arizona, I can tell you that the biggest problem with inventory loss at Fry's is from employees, not from customers. It's part of why the store has such a high turnover rate. Employees aren't paid well, have little to no supervision, have a somewhat hostile work environment with poor management, and therefore are inclined to steal from the evil, faceless corporation that employs them. After awhile they leave, frequently so they don't get caught in the newest investigation. Sometimes they are somewhat caught but not enough to be worth prosecuting, so they're simply fired. Of the four Fry's employees that I knew, two quit, one was fired, and only one didn't pilfer constantly.
  • Re:Um. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShawnDoc (572959) on Monday February 28, 2005 @01:19AM (#11800475) Homepage
    Does it even matter what the law says? Can't the airline just say "No ID, no Fly. That's our policy and if you don't like it, don't fly with us."?
  • Re:So (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2005 @01:21AM (#11800482)
    though several were in immigration databases as having overstayed their visas... had the databases been linked up... *and* they had shown their ID, they would have been flagged by today's standards.
    Your point.. like most of the other reactionary incitement, is useless.
  • by Fittysix (191672) on Monday February 28, 2005 @01:31AM (#11800537)
    1. IDENTIFY THE PASSENGER -

    A. ALL PASSENGERS WHO APPEAR TO BE 18 YEARS OF AGE WILL PRESENT A GOVERNMENT ISSUED PICTURE ID, OR TWO OTHER FORMS OF ID, AT LEAST ONE OF WHICH MUST BE ISSUED BY A GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY.

    B. THE AGENT MUST RECONCILE THE NAME ON THE ID AND THE NAME ON THE TICKET -- EXCEPT AS NOTED BELOW.

    C. IF THE PASSENGER CANNOT PRODUCE IDENTIFICATION, OR IT CANNOT BE RECONCILED TO MATCH THE TICKET, THE PASSENGER BECOMES A "SELECTEE." CLEAR ALL OF THEIR LUGGAGE AS NOTED IN SECTION 6, BELOW.

    6. CLEAR SELECTEE'S CHECKED AND CARRY-ON LUGGAGE, AND SUSPICIOUS ARTICLES DISCOVERED BY THE QUESTIONS ASKED;

    A. IF THE SELECTEE IS ON A FLIGHT WITHIN THE 48 CONTINENTAL US STATES, OR TO MEXICO, OR TO CANADA, ITEMS CAN BE CLEARED BY EITHER OF THE FOLLOWING METHODS:

    1. EMPTY THE LUGGAGE OR ITEM AND PHYSICALLY SEARCH ITS CONTENTS BY A QUALIFIED SCREENER, OR;

    2. BAG-MATCH -- ENSURE THE BAG IS NOT TRANSPORTED ON THE AIRCRAFT IF THE PASSENGER DOES NOT BOARD.

    B. IF THE SELECTEE IS ON AN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT -- CHECKED LUGGAGE, CARRY-ON LUGGAGE, AND SUSPECT ITEMS CAN BE CLEARED ONLY BY THE FOLLOWING METHOD; EMPTY THE LUGGAGE OR ITEM AND PHYSICALLY SEARCH ITS CONTENTS BY QUALIFIED SCREENERS.
  • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnaziNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday February 28, 2005 @01:38AM (#11800568) Homepage
    Well since this law doesn't apply to actual individuals but presumably mandates airlines do something the issues you raise don't really come up. I would imagine the people who are directly subject to the law know what it says. This isn't really stasi-like since it merely mandates that the airlines do what they had the right to do anyway (refuse to serve you unless you do certain things).

    However, I agree with your general concern. Just because the public is not directly subject to a law does not mean they are not affected by it (imagine a law that secretly funded the catholic church violating the 1st ammendment).
  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2005 @01:43AM (#11800592)
    I've been through this discussion before, and as far as I can tell, you simply don't have to do anything they say that they can't back up with an actual law. Of course, they could refuse your business in the future, but they won't.

    My buddy is in Target's security group, and he told me that Target HQ sent out an email about Best Buy. They tried to stop a guy to check his receipt. When he wouldn't stop, they followed him. He asked if he was under arrest, and even though they said, "No", they blocked the driveway to prevent him from leaving.

    The cop who finally arrived was able to take the customer's criminal complaint against the store for kidnapping, but not the store's for "not stopping".
  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2005 @03:01AM (#11800831)
    Um ... have you bought an airplane ticket within the last 4 years? If you did, then you undoubtably noticed that prior to being issued the said ticket, you must provide a name to be put on the ticket and pay for it (most people pay by CC).

    I don't think I need to go into details of how easy it is to both identify and track someone by their credit card ... I will, however, say that it is even easier to track someone by thier cheque ... and I'm pretty sure that they don't take cash.

    Point: if you think that not showing your ID at the gate is somehow going to prevent "the man" from knowing that you originally intended to take that flight, you're insane.

    BTW, your earlier references to how sheep mindlessly follow directions, how "wolves think about the damage done to the their privacy and their freedom", and how sheep are food ... do you mean to imply that people who "think about the damage done to the their privacy and their freedom" are cannibals ?
  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dadragon (177695) on Monday February 28, 2005 @03:14AM (#11800864) Homepage
    From time to time in Canada Parliament sends a proposed bill to the Supreme Court to rule if it's constitutional before they vote on it.

  • Re:So (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Monday February 28, 2005 @03:29AM (#11800906) Homepage

    Well, they didn't, did they?

    The hijackers were Saudis - we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Even though, I would note, they found a pristine hijacker passport sitting in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

    Wow! What a coincidence!

    Almost as likely as the Oklahoma City cop who believed the Federal Building bombing was a set-up - who then "committed suicide" (while being followed by FBI agents) by slashing his arms repeatedly, cutting his throat TWICE, then crawling 8,000 feet to shoot himself in the head with a gun - which could not be found by dozens of fellow officers searching for it - until five minutes after the FBI SAIC showed up - who promptly "found" it (although it has yet to be identified as to exactly what gun it is.)

    Wow! What a coincidence!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2005 @04:09AM (#11800993)
    Your friend would be a fool to give you a gun. I know a man who is sitting in jail, because a friend of his used a knife, given by this man, to attack on an ex-girlfriend.
  • I want to put out a call for action by slashdotters that might be able to help john in his case.
    A letter to your senator of congresscritter something like this:
    "Can you please send me a copy of the regulation or law which requires airlines to obtain from passengers a valid driver's license? Is there such a law?" (you don't need to copy my bad grammar, just a letter to that general effect.)
    If you get an answer, please send it to John via EFF or via his lawyers, or send it to me. Thanks.
    This would be useful to the case, but also puts pressure on the agency. If the law is so secret they won't tell a senator, that escalates the issue a bit. If they do tell the senator, and the senator send it to us, we can file that in court, and post it on slashdot.
  • by B747SP (179471) <slashdot@selfabusedelephant.com> on Monday February 28, 2005 @04:30AM (#11801052)
    "It is a fundamental principle of law that everyone knows the law". That's what they drummed into me at law school, before they even got thinking about drumming anything else in. That principle exists to defeat the "but, I didn't know what I did was illegal" defence - things are so much simpler if everyone is deemed to know the law.

    It's one thing to 'define' that I 'know' the law, but it's a different ball game if they want to 'define' that I 'know' a law that I'm not allowed to see.

    (It's not really, they just make another law that says I know the law I can't see even though I can't see it, and it's all my fault, again.

  • by R1ch4rd (710276) on Monday February 28, 2005 @05:27AM (#11801175)
    Is this idea of 'secret law' possible in the US ?

    In my country we have an "Official Monitor", which is a paper issued by the government each week, I think. It includes all laws and other directives given by the guvernment or president and there is a law which states that any law comes into effect when it's published.

    So, in my country there cannot be a secret law of regulation as everything is published. Isn't there a similar system everywhere ?

    If there someone who knows how the things work in US, please explain.
  • Easier way... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nipok Nek (87328) on Monday February 28, 2005 @06:00AM (#11801240)
    If he wants to see the regulations, he should buy a plane and declare himself an airline. Then the government would HAVE to let him see the regulations, or at least not expect him to follow them.

    Nipok Nek
  • Re:Dude! wtf? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rhuntley12 (621658) on Monday February 28, 2005 @06:47AM (#11801326)
    I had a cop pull me over and tell me he didn't need a reason to. Thanks to my cell phone recording I filed a complaint. I learned REAL quick that filing a complaint just gets your harassed 10x more by cops. That whole week I couldn't go home without a cop on my street or getting pulled over. Ever been pulled over for not signalling while pulling into your driveway at 4am with NO one on road except the bike cop under a tree?
  • Re:So (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mo^ (150717) on Monday February 28, 2005 @06:51AM (#11801340)
    So, they find out some guy overstays his visa.. what do they do? put him on a PLANE home.

    so thats good then
  • Re:So (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unitron (5733) on Monday February 28, 2005 @06:54AM (#11801348) Homepage Journal
    Sounds a little like the "suicide" of Florida DOT investigator Ray C. Lemme. Would you happen to recall the name of that Oklahoma City officer?
  • Re:Why, indeed! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Puhtronium714 (318206) on Monday February 28, 2005 @07:00AM (#11801365)
    It's not meaningless. when you show your id to the clerk at the ticket counter, it gets swiped through a machine that records it.

    Because Amtrak does this, too, unless you're making a road-trip, any trip you take could be recorded. And the government refuse to show the law which requires ID to be shown (but admit it exists), which lends credibility to the the theory that trips are being recorded.

    While the reason is unstated, in combination with the Patriot Act, a law that provides for the monitoring of travel can be a truly threatening thing.
  • Monarchy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hummassa (157160) on Monday February 28, 2005 @08:22AM (#11801669) Homepage Journal
    The problem with monarchies and removing them is: they theoretically own the assets that form the basis for the State to work (their salaries/alimonies/allowances are, therefore, kind of a "rent" payment that the people pays to use that which belong to the Crown).
    When you rattle this cage too hard, you rattle the foundations to the real estate market, too: the right to own a State is very close to the (also hereditary) right to own a house. It's not simple to do without a very radical institutional breakage. :-)
    And, to make it worse, there are cases where the Crown helps the democratic process (Spain is a good example), and estabilizes the government.
  • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

    by glesga_kiss (596639) on Monday February 28, 2005 @08:57AM (#11801872)
    The problem is that there is NO evidence that it was who the Bush administration says it is. All they have is:

    • The pristine condition passport "found" at ground zero
    • The phone calls made from the jets, which were a) not technically possible to make [feralnews.com] and b) the eye "witnesses" said they had red banadanas, when Al Qaidas colour is green. That just would not happen, it would be like the US going to war under a red hammer and sickle.
    • Flight manuals and a copy of the Koran found at the airport. Excuse me, but if you've been training for an operation for several years, you don't carry papers with you on the drive to the airport that would incriminate you if given a random stop/search by the local authorities.
    • A dozen other reasons that I can't be bothered to go into, such as the lack of video evidence of anything, despite the airports and the Pentagon being some of the most monitored places on the plannet.

    The whole thing reeks. And the response of those in charge on the day is inconstistent with every standard operating proceedure in place.

    Sounds way too much like Operation Northwinds [ratical.org] to me, where the US intended justify an unprovoked war against Cuba, in order to "protect itself from terrorism".


    It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner enroute from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan route to cross Cuba. The passengers could be a group of college students off on a holiday or any grouping of persons with a common interest to support chartering a non-scheduled flight. - US Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1962

  • by PReDiToR (687141) on Monday February 28, 2005 @09:44AM (#11802192) Homepage Journal
    Things like drug laws or other laws which have real teeth

    Drug laws are certainly laws that should be looked at in this category.

    Alcohol is legal, weed isn't.

    When was the last time you saw a bunch of stoners breaking up a bar and having a fight?
    Happens with the drinkers every weekend in my City.

    Ecstacy is another drug that should be allowed. The youth of today have never been asked if it should be illegal, it was merely declared so because the older generation heard the word "drug" and lashed out.

    If there were quasi-legal outlets for weed and ecstacy there wouldn't be such drama between rival dealers, the quality (and therefore quantifiability) of doses would rise, and safety would follow. This would also help a little (obviously not 100%) with the "gateway" idea of these substances. Dealers would be selling legitimate products and would not have to stock the harder drugs. Flood the market with legal sales and illegal ones would be harder to find.

    Many people believe that the only reason "drugs" are illegal is because the .GOV can't effectively tax them.

    If a (n ab)user requires the means to pay, they need to work to buy their dope, so the problem would not escalate, but there would still be people outside the system, as there are alcoholics/winos with alcohol.

    The majority of times police in the UK are called to drug fuelled raves is because the gathering is illegal, or the noise is causing a problem.
    These two problems would disappear if more places were open for kids to go, take a few pills, dance for 4 hours, then go have a joint to cool down and chill out.
    Mix this with a responsible safe-drive policy and you have a much better weekend out than is currently available with alcohol. No fighting, nobody being glassed, a lot less ass-groping and dancefloor molestation because ecstacy makes physical contact a desirable thing, rather than something to be shunned because the person is too drunk to be polite or comes on too strong and won't take no for an answer.

    One MAJOR effect of making weed and estacy legal would be to reduce the crime rate by hundreds of thousands every year. People break these laws every weekend and this makes them laugh off other laws too.


    *Note: I used to take a lot of drugs, but have since stopped using them. This to me is an academic argument, not a personal one.
  • by carcajou (862125) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:09AM (#11802400)
    Legal but not acceptable...I have quit shopping at several companies that insist on checking every receipt. I have never stolen from them, and for the company to assume that I have, until they prove that I have not, is just not acceptable.

    What I have done to offset this is to deal with small local companies. Sometimes I pay a little more, but there is the satisfaction of supporting the small business, getting to know the owners, keeping a larger part of my hard earned money in the community, and of knowing that I am not supporting companies that continually abuse both thier employees and their customers!
  • Re:So (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tompaulco (629533) on Monday February 28, 2005 @11:29AM (#11803241) Homepage Journal
    Federal Aviation Regulations 125.383
    (a) Each certificate holder is responsible for the preparation and accuracy of a load manifest in duplicate containing information concerning the loading of the airplane. The manifest must be prepared before each takeoff and must include--
    ...
    (8) Names of passengers.
    If I was responsible for the accuracy of the names of the people on board, I bet I would check ID too.
    I'm sure that a secret law is much more interesting, but it is much more likely that the gate attendant doesn't know the regulations, because mostly, they don't need to.
  • by thundergeek (808819) on Monday February 28, 2005 @11:46AM (#11803418) Journal
    I have been contemplating posting this, but after reading some of your posts, I feel compelled.

    I traveled at Christmas from North Pole Alaska, all the way to Detroit with my wife, and three kids under three. We purchased three tickets, as two of our kids are under two, and can sit on our laps. Our daughter had her own seat.

    It started off ok, but that was just getting in the door of the airport. We arrived 3 hours early because I knew we would take a long long long long time to get through the x-ray vision machines. (Airplane movie comes to mind)

    We literally took 25 minutes to get the kids shoes off, take the kid leashes off, remove my 5 mo old's shoes, with integrated nuclear detonators, unstrap him from his mothers chest via a kid cradle, then finally convince my 1.5 year old to walk through the white uprights while nearly 50 people wait for us. (Fairbanks is a small airport, only 6 TSA agents at the screening, one with crossed eyes!)

    I used 12 of those bins at every screening process. We attempted to keep it at a minimum.

    What's my complaint you ask? Seeing how I haven't mentioned the whole ID part? Well, I don't mind showing my ID, it's the whole misleading rules/regulations that have somehow become LAW.

    You know the sign at some airports that say "Private screening rooms available upon request?" I inquired about this for the benifit of the fliers behind us who have to stand there patiently, in fear of loosing their first born, and right testicle/breast. The TSA freak said that we can only request it AFTER we go through the initial screening, and ONLY if the metal detector goes off. What a crock! If I've spent 10 minutes stripping my kids and make it through the detector, what the halibut am I going to ask for a "private" screening room for, just to do it all again?

    I told him he needs to take the sign down, cause it's like false advertising.

    I actually told my wife the next time we fly, we'll charter a plane. They don't require massive screenings, and your bags go from trunk to plane, in less than 20 feet! I've also done some research, and the price is comparative to first class tickets. Of course, that's if you buy 6 or more.

    "You are free to move about the country, if you have ..., if you comply with...., oh, by the way..."

    Later
  • by virg_mattes (230616) on Monday February 28, 2005 @11:52AM (#11803469)
    > The reason some drugs are illegal is for control. Pot became illegal as a way to control the Mexican Immigrant population in the southwest. Cocaine became illegal as a way to control immigrants from South America. Opium became illegal as a way to control the Asian immigrant population.

    Way too simple. You're forgetting the influence of the Puritan ethical system in the U.S. since the first European settlers came over. Just because drugs tended toward being used by foreigners is not so revealing as the fact that the U.S. criminalized alcohol for a while, too. There has always been a "drugs=hedonism" and "hedonism=bad" ethical framework in the U.S. and the War on Drugs reflects that. Even today, taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling are referred to as "sin taxes".

    So, it is about control, but not just controlling minorities.

    Virg

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