If we knew who the terrorists were, we could just arrest them all, rather than stopping them when they try to fly. There are many ways to deter terrorism, but checking IDs against a watch list is not one of them. It is an exercise in futility that provides a false sense of security.
-- John Gilmore, plaintiff in Gilmore v. Ashcroft
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA, Public Law 107-71) was passed on November 19, 2001, this Act transfers authority over civil aviation security from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Key features of the act include the creation of an Undersecretary of Transportation for Security; federalization of airport security screeners; the assignment of Federal Security Managers to each airport, and the requirement that all checked baggage be screened by explosives detection devices. The ATSA also established a timeline for the TSA to improve the state of civil aviation security. Initiatives already established include the Civil Aviation Security Service Fee and the Aviation Infrastructure Fee both of which defray the costs incurred by TSA.
They just said your name is flagged and we have to clear it. And from that moment on no one ever gave me any clarification of what that meant and why.
-- Virgine Lawinger, a 74 year old Catholic nun
... as to how you get on it, or how it's maintained, or who maintains it, I can't help you with that.
-- TSA spokesman as quoted in The Progressive
Among the provisions of this law are requirements that all checked baggage, as well as carry-on luggage, must be screened for explosives within 60 days of the bill's
signing. At the time, only 47 airports had explosives detection machines. All commercial service airports were required to have the automated devices by the end of 2002. Until then, all baggage was required to be screened manually.
Dave Steigman, spokesman for the TSA, said revealing any of the reasons a name may end up on the list could jeopardize national security.
-- from the Associated Press
We would never put a person on the watch list solely because they sought to express their First Amendment rights and their views.
-- FBI Director Robert Mueller
The only reason I could come up with is that the FBI is reactivating their old anti-war activists' files. It is intimidation. It's just like years ago when the FBI built a file about me and they called my landlord and my co-workers. . . . They did that with everyone in the anti-war movement.
-- Nancy Oden, prevented from flying to a peace conference
The legislation states that all individuals and vehicles entering secure areas of airports would have to be screened or searched. The nation's sky marshal force was to be beefed up. The legislation also mandated that cockpit doors must be strengthened and that liability protection would be extended to numerous parties facing lawsuits stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks.
The cost of the new program is to be paid for by passengers who pay a $2.50 per flight segment fee, which is capped at $10 per roundtrip. Airlines also pay a portion.
Specifically the bill calls for the Transportation Security Administration to:
... establish procedures for notifying the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, appropriate State and local law enforcement officials, and airport or airline security officers of the identity of individuals known to pose, or suspected of posing, a risk of air piracy or terrorism or a threat to airline or passenger safety;
in consultation with other appropriate Federal agencies and air carriers, establish policies and procedures requiring air carriers:
- to use information from government agencies to identify individuals on passenger lists who may be a threat to civil aviation or national security; and
- if such an individual is identified, notify appropriate law enforcement agencies, prevent the individual from boarding an aircraft, or take other appropriate action with respect to that individual.
History shows that bad laws are seldom fixed until courageous citizens challenge them.
-- John Gilmore, plaintiff in Gilmore v. Ashcroft
Based on the Aviation and Transportation Security Act
, the Department of Transportation Inspector General
, Ken Mead, listed 10 new regulations put in place after the World Trade Center
attacks. Mead's 10 items are: the suspect watch list and intelligence sharing; intensified passenger and carry-on baggage screening; limited access beyond checkpoint
s; greater use of explosives detection equipment (EDS); revalidating airport IDs; increasing the law enforcement
officer presence at airports; expanding the federal air marshal program; deployment of National Guard
troops; reinforcement of cockpit doors, and better screening of cargo.
Here we were, going out to lobby, to use our democratic rights, to talk to our legislators, to use our freedom of speech and dissent, and then we're being detained and not told why. We were taking young people and telling them if you use means that are nonviolent and peaceful, your message will be heard. But the fact that we were hampered, that we were detained, was just a totally different message.
-- Diane Henke, a volunteer with Peace Action Milwaukee
While the IG may consider the regulations to be effective, others believe they are unconstitutional. According to one lawsuit - Gilmore v. Ashcroft
- the ID regulation is unconstitutional because it is unpublished; requires government agents to search and seize
citizens who are not suspected of crimes; burdens the rights to travel, associate, and petition
the government; and discriminates against those who choose anonymity.
Sarah Backus, a coordinator for School of the Americas Watch Wisconsin, says she was told by one of the sheriff's deputies: "You're probably being stopped because you are a peace group and you're protesting against your country."
-- from The Progressive
Is the voice of dissent in this country is being squelched? Is a new fascism
upon us? Perhaps we should remember the words of Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer
There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, what they do ...