February 27, 2008, - 4:22 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Ever since the Transportation Security Administraton (TSA) began the “registered traveler” or “Trusted Traveler” program, I was against it. The program allows those who pay $100 annually to sign up with Verified Identity Pass, Inc. and clear an initial background check to avoid any rigorous or secondary screening at airport security.
On this site, I repeatedly questioned it, since, as I noted, Islamic terrorists with no prior record or who used a phony name/identity to enter the country, could become “Trusted Travelers,” sped through airport security without a second look or any degree of scrutiny in screening. And as I wrote, Mohammed Atta and most–if not all–of the 9/11 hijackers would have qualified for the program.
Yet the TSA pursued and allowed it. They wasted millions of dollars getting it through Congress, getting bids, and designing the program, all because business travelers wined about increased airport screening. What they should have been whining about is why America doesn’t speed things up by profiling, as the Israelis do with far greater success than America.
Millions of dollars later, TSA told Congress and USA Today, last year, that they realized the system was a security risk. That’s reiterated in today’s Wall Street Journal. Welcome to America, folks. Glad they finally realized what anyone, including me, could have realized a long time ago, before they wasted our money:
The Registered Traveler program was intended to move those with clean records to the front of the line, says Kip Hawley, TSA administrator.
Over the next few years, TSA poured federal funds into testing biometric systems for identification. In 2004, it set up a pilot program in five different airports, offering about 2,000 people at each location a free membership. Officials soon realized, however, the flawed logic behind the Registered Traveler program: It might actually increase security risks because a terrorist with a clean record could still get on a plane.
Bingo. Mazel Tov [Congrats], Mr. Hawley, after wasting our money and possibly already helping terrorists into this program, you finally got it. Now, what are you going to do about it?
Answer: Nothing. Nothing is being done to end Trusted Traveler. And you or I or Mohammed Atta, Jr. can become a member any time we want.
Why are we calling people we can’t trust at all, “Trusted Traveler” status?
You’d think that if an organization trusted with America’s in-air secutiry found out they helped increase the chances terrorists with weapons got aboard planes, they’d end the program. But, if you thought that, you don’t know the incompetent TSA, which is more worried about whether or not Joe Schmo’s 3-ounce toothpaste tube is inside a quart-size ziplock bag.
America post-9/11–far less safe than before that date. Thanks, President Bush and Michael “Serpenthead” Chertoff. On your watch, boys. On your watch.
Tags: America, biometric systems, Bush, Congress, Debbie Schlussel Ever, Joe Schmo, Jr., Kip Hawley, Michael "Serpenthead" Chertoff, Mohammed Atta, President, TSA administrator, USA Today, USD, Verified Identity Pass Inc., Wall Street Journal