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Gilmore Loses Airport ID Case 521

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-comment dept.
smooth wombat writes "In the final conclusion to John Gilmore's fight to be able to fly on an airplane without providing identification, the United States Supreme Court, without comment, let stand an appeals court ruling which said that Gilmore's rights are not violated by being required to show proof of identity. Gilmore had argued that without being able to see the law which says one must provide identification before being allowed to board a plane, there is no way to know if the regulations call for impermissible searches."
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Gilmore Loses Airport ID Case

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  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @01:49PM (#17511678)
    You can fly without ID. You could when Gilmore's case started, and you still can now. In fact, here's how [schneier.com]. In fact, Gilmore's own site tells you how [papersplease.org], in the form of the court decision specifically authorizing it.

    The exact wording:

    The identification policy requires airline passengers to present identification to airline personnel before boarding or be subjected to a search that is more exacting than the routine search that passengers who present identification encounter.

    The very page describing the case [papersplease.org] says that he would have been allowed to travel at SFO without ID if he submitted to a search. That alone devastates the "secret ID law" claim, as allowing him to fly without ID, search or not, would have been in violation of that law.

    First of all, his primary question is: Do citizens currently need to show ID in order to travel in their own country?

    The answer is a resounding "no". He is free to travel by foot, bike, motorcycle, car, boat, or other device himself while not violating applicable pedestrian or traffic laws, or by bus or train, entirely anonymously.

    Further, in his quest to "expose" this situation, he found at one of the largest airports in the country, San Francisco International Airport, that he WAS indeed allowed to fly without ID (if he submitted to a search).

    Claims variously made by privacy advocates assert that showing ID is worthless; that the September 11 hijackers all had valid, government issued photo ID. Sure they did. But some form of identification, fake or not, gives authorities a place to start in an investigation, rather than nothing at all.

    But please, even in light of that, remember: he WAS allowed to fly with no ID at SFO, and chose not to. I expect that he thought he'd find he would be denied everywhere, but then still chose not to fly at SFO simply because he didn't want to be searched and so it wouldn't stop his little "Achtung! Papers, please!" stunt before it started. That's his choice. And if you'd argue against a search, then you might as well argue against ALL security measures at airports.

    There are some discrepancies here, most likely because of lack of communication or lack of proper specific words used to define things. First, TSA directives are secret. But they're not "laws". That's why they're called security "directives". These directives instruct the airlines and airports in terms of how to handle security; they're not arbitrary requirements that passengers must submit to or know about ahead of time: they are guidelines and directives for the handling of security issues, some routine and some special or time-specific, within airport and airline processes. That's the TSA's job. And didn't some call for the federalization of airport security?

    I'm glad he's asking these questions, but I wish he'd be less sensationalistic and tinfoil-hat about it - especially since his primary claim is that he can't travel anonymously, which is not only tremendously wrong considering there are so many other public and private means to travel with no ID, but also because he would indeed have been able to fly with no ID.

    Yes, all the 9/11 hijackers had valid IDs. So what? The ID requirement doesn't pretend to "prevent" issues; it's simply a place to start for investigators AFTER an incident, regardless of whether the IDs were real or fake...enabling investigators to get a list of names (again, real or not), issuing agencies for the IDs, and sometimes even pictures (which are many times real, even if the ID itself is fake). This information could be critical to an investigation when other lives may be at stake.

    But, in any event, he already found he could travel by plane, without ID.
  • by iggymanz (596061) on Monday January 08, 2007 @01:55PM (#17511762)
    I disagree that investigators must have ID to start with for an investigation. Let them start with nothing other than the facts of the crime. The core of the matter is that we're allowing our government to assume we are criminals, which is evil and the basis of a police state. By default, the government does NOT need to know who I am or what I am doing. However, we've raised two generations of SHEEP who submit to whatever the government says without question, and who do not know what freedom is.
  • Parent is a TROLL. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08, 2007 @01:56PM (#17511786)
    Like it or not, it IS an invasion of privacy.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @01:57PM (#17511794)
    It is more about preventing people from re-selling their "special discount" non-refundable, non-transferable tickets.

    Now the airlines can restrict the use of those tickets to the person who purchased them and enforce that with the ID requirement.

    As has been stated, requiring ID does NOTHING for security because the hijackers all had ID.

    This is about making more money for the airlines, not making your trip any more secure.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:01PM (#17511866)
    I disagree that investigators must have ID to start with for an investigation. Let them start with nothing other than the facts of the crime. The core of the matter is that we're allowing our government to assume we are criminals, which is evil and the basis of a police state. By default, the government does NOT need to know who I am or what I am doing. However, we've raised two generations of SHEEP who submit to whatever the government says without question, and who do not know what freedom is.

    Then, by all means, fly without ID, as you are legally allowed to do.

    The problem is that it is human nature to assume someone is trying to hide something when it, well, looks like they're trying to hide something. So in the system at large, this means that they take greater precautions with someone who, for whatever reason, doesn't want to present any identification to fly.

    This isn't about sheep or some higher-level conspiracy to keep people under the thumb of a fascist police state. These were reasonable regulations, which are exceedingly imperfect, to make air travel as safe as possible, and to make people feel it is as safe as possible - which is a huge component of this, by the way, since people not living in fear of air travel is, in its own right, an important social and economic factor.

    Not your fault that people are afraid of something that will statistically have a far less chance of affecting them than dying of a toenail fungus or a drunk driving crash? Of course it's not. But do you actually expect the government to be the entity to somehow convince people that there's nothing to worry about while at the same time making NO CHANGES to airport/airline security? People DEMANDED change, and whether it's security theater or not, "people" wouldn't have accepted anything less than some "action" - read: changes - on the airport security front.

    People can talk about reinforced cockpit doors and Israeli airlines all they want, but the fact is that the only response the government could have had - no matter who was in office - was a real, perceived, or a combination of both, "increase" in security at airports and on airlines.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:06PM (#17511934)
    It's about the perception of security, and people demanded it.

    Do you really think the government - no matter who was in office - could have gotten away with making NO CHANGES to air security after 9/11?

    Can you imagine how that would play in the press, or if there was ever any other event, ever? Look at me with a straight face, and tell me that they could have reasonably done nothing to improve security, either real or perceived, or a combination of the two.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:07PM (#17511960)
    "It is more about preventing people from re-selling their "special discount" non-refundable, non-transferable tickets.

    Now the airlines can restrict the use of those tickets to the person who purchased them and enforce that with the ID requirement."

    That hardly needs a government regulation - airlines could refuse to allow a customer to use those tickets without ID whether the government requires ID or not.
  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:08PM (#17511972) Homepage Journal
    to make people feel it is as safe as possible - which is a huge component of this, by the way, since people not living in fear of air travel is, in its own right, an important social and economic factor.


    Until I ask them what's to stop someone from standing in line with a large rucksack filled with explosives during say, the day before Thanksgiving? How about three people. One in the front of the line, one in the middle and one further back?

    I love the look of fear and horror on peoples faces when I pose that question.

    But we're safe because they ask for ID and run you through a metal detector, they tell me.

    But only after you've been standing in line, I reply.

  • by advocate_one (662832) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:12PM (#17512042)
    The answer is a resounding "no". He is free to travel by foot, bike, motorcycle, car, boat, or other device himself while not violating applicable pedestrian or traffic laws, or by bus or train, entirely anonymously.

    for how much longer? How soon before being required to show ID when crossing a State Line? How soon before being required to show ID when checking into Hotels/Motels? How soon before being required to check in with the local police station when you intend to stay somewhere more than a few hours? How soon before having to get written permission before you can travel more than so many miles from your nominated place of residence?

    Slippery slope people... they'll nibble away at your "freedom" by adding little "reasonable seeming" requirements here and there... all in the name of protecting you from terrorism/saving the children from pedophiles/whatever the current "bete noir" is...

  • Keep in mind... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suman28 (558822) <suman28@hotma i l . com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:13PM (#17512066)
    For all those who keep asking the question, "What is wrong with having to show an ID?", you need to keep in mind that once the government starts saying we cannot show you the law because it is national security and all that, they can also say, you are subject to "intensive search" at every 500 ft (for example) for not showing an ID or any other number of rules like that....So, where does it end?
  • by demo9orgon (156675) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:15PM (#17512084) Homepage
    This case was a challenge to the government to disclose secret laws.
    Of course it's not in the interest of any government to disclose secret laws.
    Any government. Any secret law.

    With secret laws, and non-disclosure/denial of legal representation, the goal is to foster and achieve an environment of terror for the citizenry.

    The best system is one that works randomly (or in the least fosters that impression) in the perception of the subjects.

    Every Government is a "Skinner Box" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skinner_box), where the rats behave the way they're supposed to more often with a minimal amount of enforcement and other controls.

    The Democracy "Skinner box" is just as rotten as every other form of government "Skinner box". They're all assembled with the same corrupt intentions.

    Cheers.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:15PM (#17512086)
    Until I ask them what's to stop someone from standing in line with a large rucksack filled with explosives during say, the day before Thanksgiving? How about three people. One in the front of the line, one in the middle and one further back?

    I love the look of fear and horror on peoples faces when I pose that question.


    Anyone who hasn't though of that is a moron.

    So do you have an idea of how many of those people we're dealing with?

    Hint: it's the same number of people who feel much safer because of all the additional "security precautions."

    So, should we educate them all and say, hey, you're far more likely to die falling off a ladder putting up Christmas lights than you would from a terrorist attack? Should we explain to them that we wouldn't be any fundamentally less secure if we had basically zero security at airports? (By the way, we do need to prevent things like guns and explosives from getting on the planes themselves - of course, that's another problem entirely and isn't related to ID.)

    I guess my question is, how do you tell people that it would have been acceptable to DO NOTHING with regard to air security after 9/11, and actually have them believe you?

    The problem is that someone falling off a ladder putting up lights is a tragedy. But no one (except friends and loved ones) cares. But when 20 or 200 or 2000 or 20000 people die at once, and when they die because someone who doesn't even know you HATES you with such fervent passion that they're still willing to kill you even after living in your own society for months or years, that bothers people. I don't think many people realistically, personally fear being killed by a "terrorist". They just want society at large to be protected from them.

    But we're safe because they ask for ID and run you through a metal detector, they tell me.

    But only after you've been standing in line, I reply.


    Yes, the sterile area is a big thing. But there's nothing stopping someone from doing exactly what you've suggested against any number of soft targets, like, say, the Mall of America or numerous other locations. The point with airline security is still really keeping the PLANES secure, for better or worse, and that doesn't just include the cockpit only or preventing planes from being used as missiles.
  • by crush (19364) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:19PM (#17512144)
    First of all, his primary question is: Do citizens currently need to show ID in order to travel in their own country? The answer is a resounding "no". He is free to travel by foot, bike, motorcycle, car, boat, or other device himself while not violating applicable pedestrian or traffic laws, or by bus or train, entirely anonymously.

    Actually you're wrong. When you travel in a car you are very easily trackable. The British perfected the art of tracking suspected Republican terrorists in Northern Ireland by recognition of license plate numbers on cars. When travelling on Amtrak I have been asked for photo ID for tickets which were pre-booked and paid for with a credit-card in advance. It is now illegal in many jurisdictions (e.g. NYC) to have your face covered in certain situations. All of these remove the ability to travel anonymously.

    Further, in his quest to "expose" this situation, he found at one of the largest airports in the country, San Francisco International Airport, that he WAS indeed allowed to fly without ID (if he submitted to a search).

    And similarly, if you want to get free money from a bank you can do so providing you serve a jail sentence afterwards ;) Being searched is unpleasant, intrusive and effectively a punishment deterring anyone normal from not taking the easy route and trading their ID-less anonymity for an escape from close body contact with security personnel.

    Claims variously made by privacy advocates assert that showing ID is worthless; that the September 11 hijackers all had valid, government issued photo ID. Sure they did. But some form of identification, fake or not, gives authorities a place to start in an investigation, rather than nothing at all.

    The claim is that ID is worthless in preventing terrorist attacks and that the only possible excuse for massive infringements on our liberties is the avoidance of the greater infringement of terrorist nutbags taking away our lives.

    Yes, all the 9/11 hijackers had valid IDs. So what? The ID requirement doesn't pretend to "prevent" issues; it's simply a place to start for investigators AFTER an incident,

    God, who gives a shit? Despite all the 9-11 conspiracy morons it was clear and is very clear who did what because THEY WANTED US TO KNOW. Terrorists don't make a habit of not telling you excatly what it is they want and who they are. The flight rules are intrusive crap that no one puts up with except for the reason that they think it's going to protect them. And most of them fail, and can only fail to do that. They are a closing of the open society and victory for terrorists.

  • by rsidd (6328) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:22PM (#17512172)

    Now the airlines can restrict the use of those tickets to the person who purchased them and enforce that with the ID requirement...
    This is about making more money for the airlines, not making your trip any more secure.

    I don't know about you, but I'm glad that scalping and black-marketing are uncommon with airline tickets. It means I can still afford to fly. In other words, it's about saving more money for me.

    And I don't care if they know my real name. Lots of people do.

  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:23PM (#17512182)
    It's about the perception of security, and people demanded it.

    That is known as "Security Theatre". It is useless. It wastes money. That money could better be spent on improving the security.

    Do you really think the government - no matter who was in office - could have gotten away with making NO CHANGES to air security after 9/11?

    The changes that have been made have NOT improved the security. It's all theatrics. You are as vulnerable today to a bomb going off on a plane as you were in 2000.

    Can you imagine how that would play in the press, or if there was ever any other event, ever? Look at me with a straight face, and tell me that they could have reasonably done nothing to improve security, either real or perceived, or a combination of the two.

    You might want to look up "straw man" because I am not saying that "nothing" should be done.

    I'm saying that we should be focusing on actual security improvements rather than the "Security Theatre" that you're supporting.

    I'm saying that wasting money/time on theatrics is a NEGATIVE because that means there is less money/time to spend on REAL security improvements.

    I'm saying that every false positive is a FAILURE of the system and a DETRIMENT because it makes it that much more likely that a future true positive will be mistaken in the sea of false positives.
  • by SEAL (88488) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:26PM (#17512228)
    I'm glad he's asking these questions, but I wish he'd be less sensationalistic and tinfoil-hat about it

    I wish he'd shut down his open SMTP relay but it's still a free country, so far.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:27PM (#17512242)
    Living in a secure, stable society of law and order comes with responsibilities and restrictions.

    Not everything is a slippery slope.

    The Franklin quote everyone likes to trot out usually leaves out a couple critical words:

    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    With those bolded words left out, it's the very witty and ominous warning people who quote it usually intend it to be. But with these words, suddenly, things become a bit more subjective. Is not having to show ID at an airport essential to my liberty? No, not remotely, in my own view. Is the safety gained from airport and airline security changes "temporary"? Again, no. Am I, personally, offended by the balance between liberty and security in general? Once again, no.

    I can see how people who legitimately believe we are becoming (or already are) a police state are deeply troubled by something like this. I know that many people like to think that it's exclusively about cultivating fear. Of course fear is a tool politicians and governments have used. It's been true for generations and will always continue to be true.

    Your mistake is believing that is EXCLUSIVELY what is happening, instead of realizing that there are thousands of dedicated people, some extremely educated and skilled, at all levels of government, who really do value their jobs of safeguarding the country and doing their own little parts to help secure something like an airplane. This all isn't some "who will think of the children" plot.

    Who gets to decide? Who draws the line? These are all subjective things, and you can't just categorically say that showing ID or submitting to the standard "intensive" search is unacceptable and represents a "slippery slope", only moments away from devolving into tracking devices being implanted in every citizen and being required to show papers when traveling between states. Showing ID at an airport (which is something almost all people did before 9/11 for years anyway) is nowhere near any of the other presumably mandatory examples you cite. Some security changes really are "reasonable" and nothing more.
  • But you're conveniently ignoring the fact that things have changed, in the past 5 years (and will continue to) with regards to how easily one can get ID. It's not like we can only choose one thing to improve, and all we could opt for was making it harder to get on a plane without ID. We're also making it harder for scammers to get legitimate IDs, and making it harder for criminals to pass off forged IDs. It's going to take a while. But to suggest that because those jackasses were able to easily get IDs means that, thereafter, anyone will always be able to do the same - that's just BS, and you know it.

    It's all quite irrelevant because they don't run your ID numbers anyway. They just use it to match your name to your picture. None of these asshats will be able to recognize a professional fake ID, so the whole thing is worthless anyway.

  • by jrockway (229604) <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:31PM (#17512298) Homepage Journal
    Hi. The Department of Homeland Security is the government, not a private company. If an airline wants to see my ID, that's great. I can fly on his competitor instead.
  • by twifosp (532320) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:35PM (#17512368)
    This lawsuit is just plain stupid. Asking for IDs for boarding a flight is not the same as asking for identification papers ala Soviet Russia. It's a business policy, plain and simple. Does Best Buy have to have legislation to ask for your ID when you pay by credit card? No. Do they? Yes. Why? Business policies. Do stores have to have national laws enacted when they enforce their return policies? No. Do they? Yes. Why? Business policies.

    Airlines are commercial enterprises and they can set whatever policies they want. Yes I know the analogy isn't perfect because the Airline industry is federally regulated, but it's still the same thing. It's a business policy to present valid ID before boarding a pressurized aluminum tube carrying a ton of highly volatile fuel, and that's that.

    No rights are being violated because there are no expressed rights to purchase fare on an airplane. That's a privilege and a luxury. Travel on foot next time if you're so worried about your papers.

    Note: It is my opinion that presenting IDs actually makes security worse. If having a valid ID automatically clears the bearer into a lower level of suspicion the system is already broken. "... He was white AND had a drivers license. How were we supposed to know he was a terrorist!"

  • by stubear (130454) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:35PM (#17512374)
    ...I hate the stupid luggage bullshit you have to go through. TSA puts your luggage through x-ray machines yet they feel the necessity to have the ability to go through it by hand. I took a three week trip all over China a little over a year ago and had no trouble with the locks on my suitcases on the numerous flights I took. When I got back in the States nearly all my locks mysteriously disappeared despite the fact that they were TSA approved locks. I don't trust TSA wage slaves with my personal belongings and I trust baggage handlers even less yet I'm now forced to risk loss of personal property on the whims of a high school drop out.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:38PM (#17512418)
    I'm saying that we should be focusing on actual security improvements rather than the "Security Theatre" that you're supporting.

    Ok, what are the actual improvements, then?

    Wait, let me guess: something about cockpit doors or El-Al's security track record?

    Please enumerate exact suggestions for improvement, and why you feel the suggestion is not currently being implemented.

    But no, it's actually still important to keep weapons, explosives, and so on, off the planes and out of the cargo holds to begin with.

    The "security theater" aspect is important to people as unreasonable, emotional creatures. They felt safer with national guardsmen with unloaded weapons walking around the airports. No government could educate people to the point you expect, and make them magically feel like coming back to air travel was a safe, much less pleasant, thing to do.

    This isn't about straw men. It might be to you, but there are a lot of people who argue that the security that was already in place before 9/11 was "security theater", too. There are a lot of people who argue that all we really need are strong cockpit doors, and that anything else is an unwarranted invasion of privacy, and that even if there were a bombing every here and again, people should somehow be smart enough to just chalk it up to the price of living in a free society, and not be scared or worried.

    We can tolerate dying by accident or by our own choices, as tragic as they may be. What doesn't set well with us, no matter how statistically insignificant overall, is people dying in large numbers. What we don't tolerate, no matter how statistically miniscule, is people intentionally killing other Americans, even still feeling so strongly after having lived in our own society and culture for months or years. Many people want to see defined change they can comprehend that appears to be aimed at preventing such instances. Just like those people won't understand change they can't see, others likely will continue to doubt that there are and have been massive initiatives to improve security, communication, and intelligence at all levels, security "theater" aside.
  • by John3 (85454) <{john3} {at} {cornells.com}> on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:42PM (#17512478) Homepage Journal

    I can see why we would want to prevent explosives, but I fail to see why banning guns actually helps us. If the passengers aboard the planes on 9/11 had guns, the attacks could not have happened. The presence of guns by average citizens is often a deterent to certain types of crime.
    While you could argue that gun ownership does sometimes deter crimes you're really making a stretch when you say that guns on a plane would have stopped the attacks on 9/11. The terrorists had superior training in combat and weapons and would have merely massacred all the passengers on the plane before taking the cockpit. Firearms on aircraft would be a BAD thing except in the hands of fully trained air marshals.

    John
  • by oohshiny (998054) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:48PM (#17512588)
    Air travel is a private business. Now, it might be possible to create a law that would require them to let you fly without identification, but by default, a private business should be able to make showing identification part of the process of boarding a plane.
  • by MyNymWasTaken (879908) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:51PM (#17512630)
    The "fire in a crowded area" bit is a lame piece of sophistry. The right to bear arms is not the right to shoot people. The right to freedom of expression is not the right to ignore the consequence of your words.

    Freedom of expression does not mean freedom from responsibility.

    we shouldn't tolerate the intolerant

    Why not? "I don't agree with what you say, but I'll fight to the death your right to say it."

    we shouldn't have compassion for the truly heinous and vile

    Are we any better than them then?

    you don't have the right to fly in an airplane you share with other people without some sort of id

    What good does the identity document do? What does it prevent from happening?

    you are a clueless naive idealist

    I would suggest taking a good long look in the metaphysical mirror.
  • by b0bby (201198) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:53PM (#17512672) Homepage
    Of course, it would be easy to find large groups of people to blow up. The psychological effect is far less than blowing up an airplane, however. People are already afraid of flying, they don't want to add the fear that a bomb might go off in the air. ETA's bomb in Madrid isn't going to stop people from parking in garages; a bomb on a plane would make a lot of people change flight plans.
  • Strawman Argument (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:55PM (#17512706)
    You're not really that stupid, are you?
  • by denebian devil (944045) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:55PM (#17512724)
    There is a big difference between saying "the changes that were made were unnecessary and meaningless" and "no changes should be made to the way airline security is handled." You're conflating the two for your own purposes.
  • by auroran (10711) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:02PM (#17512814)
    I find it interesting how several people have commented, and continue to do so, that flying is their right. Believe it or not you do NOT have a right to ride from point A to point B in an aircraft.
    The aircraft is private property run by a private company, and as such can refuse business to any individual they wish for any reason they wish.

    It's similar to someone claiming that they have the right to eat in a restaurant when they're causing a ruckus. You don't have the right to eat there, you're always welcome to go home and cook.

    If you have a problem w/ the service then you are allowed to file a complaint. There's regulations & legislations regarding minimum standards of service for the safety of the general public.

    Want to drive a car w/o ID? you're more than welcome to make the attempt. However driving a motor vehicle is not a right and there's rather clear legislation that states that your license must be shown on the request of a peace officer.
  • Re:Retard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by finkployd (12902) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:07PM (#17512874) Homepage
    Whether or not there is a law is irrelevant. It's still airport and/or airline policy to require proof of identity. Policies and rules don't require law to back them up unless they are in directly conflict with existing law.

    You are missing the larger picture here. Whether or not there is a law is the ONLY relevant aspect of this. Because if there is a law, and us lowly citizens are expected to follow it but are not allowed to SEE it, then something is horribly wrong.
    It turns out there is a law basically saying "the TSA can set regulations for air travel and those regulations are effectively law". The problem is that the TSA keeps these regulations secret for security purposes (which is funny because so little they do actually has anything to do with security), so viola, we have secret laws. They can change them at will, we are not allowed to know, but we can be detained, arrested, etc for now following them.

    How long before we start seeing other laws delegated to "agency regulations" which carry the same weight but are put into place by bureaucrats (circumventing congress) and kept secret for our own good? Would we even know if they already started this? Like pretty much all our existing legit laws they could be selectively enforced.

    Finkployd
  • It's Pretty Simple (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nitack (1046362) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:08PM (#17512882)
    Airlines are privately held companies. They are heavily regulated by the government due to the nature of airplanes and the damage they can do. Regardless, they are a private industry. As a private industry they are in the business of making money (or at least trying).

    By requiring ID they are forcing final sales of airline tickets. If tickets were transferable or resalable the airlines would lose money because of the ability to buy tickets second hand.

    There does not have to be a law requiring ID's for flight. It is a policy of the Airline just as so many stores have a policy of requiring ID for a return. Do you "have" to present ID, no. You will not be arrested for failing to produce ID for a flight. Will you be allowed on the flight, no. They don't have to let you on the flight for failing to comply with the airlines policy.

    If you don't like it don't fly. This is not akin to presenting ID randomly at any time while driving or walking. We are talking about purchasing a service from a private company.

    My only gripe with this is the misinformation they are trying to diseminate. The airlines feel that their requirement for ID is lent authority by claiming it is a law or policy of the TSA. Call it what it is, a money making policy. Don't try to legitimize yourself in the publics eyes by blaming some one else.
  • by Grashnak (1003791) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:24PM (#17513134)

    I don't care how much training you have: crazy arab gets a box cutter, I get a .45 == I win.
    Except, of course, that if you are allowed to have a gun on the plane, so are the "crazy arabs", and they'll be both ready for trouble and expecting it, while you'll be sitting there wondering what's going on... I love how people in favour of guns on planes never seem to realize that the bad guys will have guns too.

    A shoot out among idiot civilians and terrorists in an airplane in flight = massive depressurization and probable aircraft loss. Good job.
  • by Poruchik (1004331) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:25PM (#17513158) Homepage
    If that many people on the airplane have guns, chances are that airplane is going down when the shooting starts. Guns and planes don't mix.
  • you do not have the right to get in an airplane without someone verifying who you are. why? do you really have to ask in today's world?

    That's one issue. It's hardly the only issue.

    Can you tell me how checking ID actually improves security? Because they're not even scanning our IDs, they just compare the picture to your head and the name to your ticket and give it back to you. Thus they are doing absolutely zero checking that you are who you say you are; they're checking to see that your ID says you are who you say you are, which is not only something completely different, but is also completely fucking useless for maintaining security. As others have pointed out, the only thing this accomplishes is preventing the resale of tickets, which prevents the airline from boning people out of their ticket price when they for some reason can't make a trip.

    And if you can't wrap your mind around why this is so, you are an ignorant slashbot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:47PM (#17513562)
    The passengers had 2 false assumptions:

    1) The hijackers could have had explosives as well
    2) Hijackers usually land the plane
  • by DAtkins (768457) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:03PM (#17513852) Homepage
    Actually, Air Marshalls use different ammunition than a soldier or peace officer would use - for the very reasons that you cite. Rather than ball or hollowpoint (read: solid) ammunition, they use frangible or Glazer ammunition.

    Glazer ammunition are (basically) tiny BB's suspended in a gel - which individually don't have the inertia to penetrate an aircraft. They have such low penetration that they can be stopped by a wallet. Frangible ammunition is, well...frangible, and simply turns to dust after striking a solid surface.

    So dead pilots from Stormtrooper-stylee shooting, isn't really an issue.

    I would also point you toward the MythBusters episode on explosive decompression. It's not as explosive as the movies would have you believe.

    On another note, I always thought that they had a good idea when they considered arming the pilots themselves. When you realize that 95% of airline pilots are ex-military, it seemed a good compromise. Never could understand why it failed...
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:15PM (#17514078)
    I can see why we would want to prevent explosives, but I fail to see why banning guns actually helps us. If the passangers aboard the planes on 9/11 had guns, the attacks could not have happened.


    And, OTOH, if the passengers in general had had guns in any of the no-actual-terrorist false alarms and airborne scares after 9/11, a number of a minor scuffles and other incidents could have turned into major tragedies.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:18PM (#17514122)
    I tend to find the thought (or, more typically, the lack of it) behind the majority Slashdot comments on these sorts of threads rather asinine... So here I am returning the favor.

    Lately, living in the U.S. I am more and more often reminded of passages from Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago. This search law that we're not allowed to see reminds me of the list of rights Soviet citizens had under Stalin. Solzhenitsyn explained that, while imprisoned, he had certain rights; he just weren't allowed to find out what those rights were! This made defending oneself against charges like sedition quite impossible.

    In the 5+ years since 2001 we have had internal passports proposed; we're told that only terrorists and criminals would oppose greatly increasing police and spy agency powers; and we have secret laws we life-long citizens are not allowed to see. I am old enough to remember when people used exactly those points to mock the Soviet Union. I find it painfully ironic, and really wonder what path we think we're on.
  • by Seedy2 (126078) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:24PM (#17514218)
    It's really a question of will.
    Prior to 9/11 people's response to a hijacking was mostly "Oh, crap I didn't want to fly to Cuba"
    Are you willing to die to stop a plane being diverted to another airport?

    Post 9/11, I doubt [most] anyone would hesitate to step in harms way to take down a hijacker.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:33PM (#17514370) Journal
    You can fly without ID.

    It was never really about flying without ID. The issue is being allowed to see the rules by which you're governed. You aren't free to exercise your rights when you don't know what they are. Imagine this exchange:

    Government: You're under arrest.
    You: For what?
    Government: You broke the law.
    You: Which law?
    Government: I can't tell you, it's secret.

    How do you defend yourself against that? And don't give me that bullshit about "directives" not being laws. A rule enforced by a government is a law.
  • by sakshale (598643) on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:11PM (#17515068) Homepage Journal

    Do you think that 200 "unarmed" people could take down 5 people armed with box cutters? If so, then why didn't they? And since they obviously didn't, how would guns have changed anything?
    What has changed is attitude of the passengers. Prior to 911, everyone was told to let things play out and wait for the plane to land. No one imagined someone using a plane full of people as a weapon. That was the difference in the last aircraft. The passengers found out that the rules of the game had changed and adapted to the new rules.

  • by soft_guy (534437) on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:12PM (#17515094)

    And they all died anyway which nicely shows why given the non suicidal hijackers of pre-9/11 passangers were encouraged to not fight back.
    True, but... they did prevent the plane from being used to destroy a building (i.e. they saved a lot of other people's lives) and had they known at the beginning what was going on, they probably would have prevented the hijackers to get into the cockpit in the first place.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:14PM (#17515134)


    Please enumerate exact suggestions for improvement, and why you feel the suggestion is not currently being implemented.

    First off, look at the issues LOGICALLY. What are the threats? How are they carried out?

    #1. Threat - Airplanes being hijacked and used as missiles.
    Solution - Stronger flightdeck doors. They should be strong enough to defeat a hijacker for at least 15 minutes so that the pilot can notify the authorities and land somewhere. There, you will no longer have the threat of airplanes being hijacked and used as missiles. A whole class of threats are removed with one change.

    #2. Threat - Airplanes being hijacked and flown to other countries.
    Solution - More undercover security on the planes.

    #3. Threat - Airplanes being blown up with bombs.
    Solution - Improve bomb detection at the entrances (including overwatch of baggage handlers).

    Spend some time reading "Attack trees" by Bruce Schneier.

    But no, it's actually still important to keep weapons, explosives, and so on, off the planes and out of the cargo holds to begin with.

    I did not say that it was not important.

    What I said was that the current practices do NOT make it any more difficult to smuggle weapons or bombs onto a plane now than in 2000.

    It might be to you, but there are a lot of people who argue that the security that was already in place before 9/11 was "security theater", too.

    And a lot of it was. But because it was then does not excuse it being so now.

    What doesn't set well with us, no matter how statistically insignificant overall, is people dying in large numbers.

    You are wrong. People die on the roads every day and yet most of us still have no problem driving.

    What we don't tolerate, no matter how statistically miniscule, is people intentionally killing other Americans, even still feeling so strongly after having lived in our own society and culture for months or years.

    No. The problem is how the media hype the statistically minuscule threats BECAUSE THEY ARE STATISTICALLY MINUSCULE.

    They are news because they are NEWS. Someone dying in a car wreck MAY make the local news. But that's it. It's common. It happens. Just about everyone knows of someone who died that way. It is not NEWS.

    To be news there has to be an element of uniqueness to it.

    Just like those people won't understand change they can't see, others likely will continue to doubt that there are and have been massive initiatives to improve security, communication, and intelligence at all levels, security "theater" aside.

    And what the fuck does THAT have to do with this discussion?

    I'm talking about security and what does and does not improve security. And how wasting money on practices that cause false positives is a NEGATIVE for security.

    You've gone off on some tangent about what some people "understand".

    You seem to be advocating Security Theatre because it makes people feel "good" even if it makes them less safe.
  • by Dr. Donuts (232269) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:08PM (#17516862)
    "Want to drive a car w/o ID? you're more than welcome to make the attempt. However driving a motor vehicle is not a right and there's rather clear legislation that states that your license must be shown on the request of a peace officer."

    Flying isn't a right, it's a commercial service. As such, airlines can deny you that service. But that's not a law/regulation, that's company policy.

    Which was the whole point of the lawsuit. The airlines are saying that it is government regulation, not company policy, which is demanding ID. However, the law/regulation enforcing this is *NOT* public. You made mention of the fact that there is "clear" legislation that details why you must present an ID for driving. Now, go find that "clear" legislation that enforces the ID check for boarding planes, and when you find it let Gilmore's lawyers know, because apparently neither they, the airlines, nor the government know where it's at.

    How this parent got modded to insightful I have no idea, since he doesn't even know what the basis for the lawsuit was. It wasn't a lawsuit to force airlines to allow travel without ID, it was to force the government to make public the laws/regulations which are enforcing it.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:24PM (#17516990) Journal
    I can see why we would want to prevent explosives, but I fail to see why banning guns actually helps us. If the passangers aboard the planes on 9/11 had guns, the attacks could not have happened. The presence of guns by average citizens is often a deterent to certain types of crime

    You. Are. An. Idiot.

    guns? On a PLANE? Great - blow some holes in the fuselage flying 940 kmph at 35,000 feet and see how long people live. Even assuming the bullets don't happen to sever anything important to the basic airworthiness of the plane (which they very easily could), the decompression itself would fuck up the plane big time and kill a bunch of people, if not bring the plane itself down. And as the terrists (at least the ones who didn't get sucked through the holes out into the stratosphere, or didn't pass out from lack of oxygen) would be storming the cockpit, what are you going to do? Shoot at the cockpit and kill the pilot? Brilliant! Good move, ACE.

    Simply: Guns do NOT belong on a plane or a spacecraft. Ever.

    RS

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday January 08, 2007 @08:12PM (#17517418)
    Who gets to decide? Who draws the line?.

    WE DO. Period. End of statement. That's why we're a Republic and not a fascist state. It's why the Founding Fathers spent so much time working out a highly sophisticated system of checks and balances (since corrupted) to keep said government under control of the citizenry, and not the other way around.

    Historically, the track record of virtually every government on this goddamned planet has not been good when it comes to civil liberties and extension of police powers, ours included. That being the case, whenever some two-bit politician or other government mouthpiece says, "we need power X", a smart citizenry pushes back hard, fights tooth and nail, and makes them justify, in excruciating detail, why that power is needed, why another long-standing right must be taken. In some instances they're right, they do need what they're asking for ... but in the vast majority of cases they do not. They just want it, which is not the same thing.

    In any event, just rolling over and accepting the verbiage being spewn forth by our current crop of ruling weasels is a huge mistake. They aren't our rulers! They are public servants, and as such are beholden to us and we have every right to make them explain themselves. Period. And may I point out that the TSA has not only been unwilling to explain itself (to anyone) but has repeatedly lied to Congress! These are not the people you want a. in charge of security at any level and b. deciding who can or cannot fly, because they have already clearly demonstrated that they cannot be trusted!

    For some time now our elected (and, more importantly, unelected) officials have been arrogating powers to themselves without any authorization from We the People. That's a problem. That's bad. It's bloody dangerous. So, no matter how you may feel about the issue of airport security (speaking of unelected officials), the undeniable truth is the the United States Federal Government is way more powerful than it needs to be to perform its Constitutionally-limited functions.

    The problem is that you are exhibiting one-dimensional, short-term thinking, looking at the current issues with civil liberties and individual rights as being an artifact of 9/11. They're not, they're systemic. Yes, I agree, the events of 9/11 did provide the government a rationale for a massive assumption of new police powers, but this has been going on for a long, long time. It has been happening too gradually for most of us to notice, but the stench of incrementalism is all around us.

    There have been times when civil liberties were curtailed for a time, but were then restored. The FBI under Hoover reached the point where Congress had to rein it in and enforce some severe restrictions. Some rights were temporarily suspended during World War II, and again were restored. That was then, this is now: times have changed. Our modern Congress not only willing passed the ill-named Patriot Act, but when it came time to activate the sunset clause on some of its worst provisions refused to do so. I have no confidence that any rights taken in the name of counter-terrorism or "saving the children" or any other overblown cause will be returned to us. Not now, not ever.
  • by NatasRevol (731260) on Monday January 08, 2007 @08:44PM (#17517650) Journal
    Are you sure the black boxes were never found? This would have been the only time EVER that FDRs were not recoverd in the US.

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/october2004/2 81004blackbox.htm [prisonplanet.com]

  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday January 08, 2007 @09:17PM (#17517930)
    >Do you think that 200 "unarmed" people could take down 5 people armed with box cutters?
    >If so, then why didn't they?

    Because up until September 11, everyone in America knew that the best strategy for surviving an aircraft hijacking was to fully cooperate with the hijackers. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you'd end up taking a 2-3 day detour and eventually get free food and souveneirs from the airport in the capital of some godforsaken thirdworld country you'd never even heard of before. The moment the first jet crashed into the WTC, the rules changed forever. Americans on a hijacked plane will now automatically assume that they're as good as dead anyway unless they fight back... and so they will. Boxcutters can probably kill one or two passengers, but in a fight between five or six boxcutter-wielding terrorists and 200 terrified, nihlistic and angry passengers convinced they're going to die anyway... the terrorists will lose, and lose badly. When the plane finally lands, the authorities will need Q-tips to swab for DNA to identify the terrorists, because they'll have been torn to shreds by the passengers.
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @11:52PM (#17518966) Journal
    If someone is stupid (or drunk) enough to pull a weapon on a flight, they'd get shot about a hundred times in five seconds.

    Heh, Just came to me. I take you never heard of a Polish firing squad.

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