I know you are all busy and you don’t have time to follow everything that goes on in Washington, but did you know that the Transportation Security Administration held a public hearing in Washington, DC last week on the TSA’s so-called Secure Flight scheme to require government-issued travel credentials and individualized, explicit, prior permission for all domestic airline travelers within the U.S., and to subject us to government-compelled search and interrogation by private commercial third parties whenever we fly.
To me, this seems to violate a basic freedom Americans have always had — the freedom to fly around America. Sure we have always had to get passports to travel abroad, but I’m wondering whether Homeland Security really needs to make our domestic travel even harder than it already is.
When I go to California now, which I do about once a month, I have to get to the airport two hours in advance, take my liquids and put them in a freezer bag, throw away anything larger than three ounces, take my shoes off, take my laptop out of my bag, wait in a long line to get through security, and then stand in a little holding pen for five or ten minutes until a “female assist” is free so she can wand me and pat me down because I have had a hip replacement. The fact that I have a card from my physician in my wallet that tells the world where the metal part is inside my body makes absolutely no difference.
So travelling has become a pain, rather than a pleasure. And for those of us who travel for business, which is most of the working world, it is a pain that has to be endured repeatedly.
But the worst part, in the words of a Washington Post article, is that “the U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.
The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as long as 15 years, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to assess the security threat posed by all travelers entering the country.”
So you might want to choose what reading materials you take with you carefully the next time you travel. You also might want to follow the blog at PapersPlease.org to find out how to exempt your own records from this new law that’s moving forward.