Saturday, December 02, 2006

Terrorism Score

- How To Change Yours

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Americans and foreigners crossing U.S. borders since 2002 have been assessed by the Homeland Security Department's computerized Automated Targeting System, or ATS. Please refer to this Yahoo News Article.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years. Some or all data in the system can be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring, contracting and licensing decisions. Courts and even some private contractors can obtain some of the data under certain circumstances.

According to FR Doc 06-9026 the ATS--P (Automated Targeting System--Passenger), a component of ATS, maintains the PNR (Passenger Name Record) information obtained from commercial carriers for purposes of assessing the risk of international travelers. PNR may include such items as:

PNR record locator code,
Date of reservation,
Date(s) of intended travel,
Other names on PNR,
Number of travelers on PNR,
Seat information,
All forms of payment information,
Billing address,
Contact telephone numbers,
All travel itinerary for specific PNR,
Frequent flyer information,
Travel agency,
Travel agent,
Code share PNR information,
Travel status of passenger,
Split/Divided PNR information,
Identifiers for free tickets,
One-way tickets,
E-mail address,
Ticketing field information,
Automated Ticketing Fare Quote (ATFQ) fields,
General remarks,
Ticket number,
Seat number,
Date of ticket issuance,
Any collected APIS information,
No show history,
Number of bags,
Bag tag numbers,
Go show information,
Number of bags on each segment,
Other Supplementary information (OSI),
Special Services information (SSI),
Special Services Request (SSR),
Voluntary/involuntary upgrades,
Received from information, and
All historical changes to the PNR
Not all carriers maintain the same sets of information for PNR.

Knowing this published list, it should be possible to change your "terrorism score". So for example if you are a terrorist, make sure your name is Cat Stevens instead of something arabic sounding like Yusuf Islam. Make sure you take baggage on your trip and buy a round trip ticket even though you will not be returning. Don't put Osama Bin Laden's name and e-mail address on your contact list and so on. Get your airline travel done by Expedia, Priceline, or something rather than the travel agency in downtown Timbuktu... etc. And be sure you use Cat Steven's frequent flyer number when making that reservation. When you get to the ticket counter, make sure you're not in a hurry or sweating, or they'll mark your boarding pass with an S. Take your time, relax and enjoy your trip. Afterall, you're going to heaven soon. Do all the weird shaving stuff when you get on the plane, not beforehand.

But if you are like most people and you are not a terrorist, you end up learning the hard way. One way tickets and no baggage are a sure fire way to get pulled over and searched at the airport. But there are reasons for one way tickets. You are travelling the world and took one airline to get from Europe to the US and plan on leaving the US through Mexico. Or you take one airline to get here and another to get back to get a cheaper fare. If you fly out somewhere to buy a car, plan on getting hassled because you bought a one way ticket.

Sometimes it's easier to skip all the hassle of security checks and so on. Lately, they don't want you to bring your toiletry kit containing toothpaste, mouthwash and your dental floss because someone thinks you could make a bomb with that sun-in product that contains a little bit of peroxide barely strong enough to bleach hair. Of course, it's no problem buying all the parts necessary to build a pretty serious rocket after security using Mentos and Diet Coke. (shhhh... or else they won't sell sodas and breath mints behind security) And, your mom has all of that stuff at her house. So you travel without luggage. Wrong. You will get hassled for not carrying luggage. Bring a carry-on.

As you can see it's much easier for terrorists to blend in like ordinary people than it is for ordinary people to behave like ordinary people so they don't look like someone's perverted idea of a terrorist. I really wonder what the cost benefit of this brain fart is. The TSA hassles millions of passengers for hours and hours and catch or prevent how many terrorists?

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