Skip to main content.
Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Fighting Security Theater

Something has finally come up that I cannot ignore. If you’re unfamiliar with the term security theater, you may as well stop reading now. The rest of this post won’t make any sense to you. You’re the sort of person that thinks that not being allowed to carry a bottle of water onto a plane makes you safer.

The good folks at EFF have filed an amicus brief to a lawsuit to force the TSA to reveal the regulation that requires travelers using air transport within the United States to show photo ID.

Now, I fly on airplanes for business and pleasure. I have always wanted to be able to do my job, and there have been plenty of times that I found it cheaper and more time-efficient to fly to spend time with my family. So I’ve walked up to the counter, and to the security gate, and when asked, whipped out some photo id. I’m lucky in that I have at least three – driver’s license, passport, and a government contractor CAC card, not to mention photo credit cards.

I do it because I wanted to get on the plane. What has chaffed me for a long time is the knowledge that, if I ever had have challenged the airline representative or security official as to why I had to present ID, I would have been told that it was a government requirement. If I had have pressed the issue, and asked for the law or regulation that required it, I would have been told that it was classified.

This may seem to be a fine point. But in the USA, if you’ve ever gotten a traffic ticket, you can look at it and see a citation of the vehicle code that you supposedly violated. If you’ve ever been arrested, you have the right to know the charge against you. You can look up the law or regulation that you have been charged with violating, and read the law; which usually includes the definitions of the terms used in phrasing of the law or regulation that you’re reading. These are conditions that form a part of the social contract that is the basis of Law; we are expected to comply with them as part of living within our society. Here in America we have the expectation that we can know the laws with which we must comply – who has not heard that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”?

But that doesn’t apply if you want to know why you have to show photo ID to get on a plane.

Our Founding Fathers had an inherent distrust of government – that’s why they crafted a governing document that has been a shining example to the world. We’ve only had to tweak it fifteen times in the 200+ years since the Bill of Rights (not including the mistake of Prohibition and fixing it.) That both proves its inherent soundness and its flexibility.

If you agree with those principles, you ought to be on board with me in supporting the EFF. If you want the technicalities, read the entire brief. I just think that if there is a law that we have to comply with, we ought to be able to know what it is. Then we can judge whether it’s a good law or not.

Posted by Greg in Current Events

Comments Off on Fighting Security Theater

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 14th, 2006 at 21:47 PST and is filed under Current Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.