Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You won’t be put on a TSA “List” if you forget Your ID

“Lack of ID put fliers on TSA list.”

This USA Today story perpetuates exactly the type of misperceptions that damage the credibility of a system designed to protect the traveling public in a post 9/11 world. The paper was careful not to be inaccurate but omitted information we provided that would have given a more balanced perspective.

An August 13 USA Today article overstated the Transportation Security Administration’s interest in passengers who come to airport checkpoints without identification but cooperate in establishing their identity. The story gives the public the impression they might be put on a “list” if they forget their ID. That is false.

Passengers whose identity is confirmed will not be added to any watch list or face additional scrutiny during future checkpoint visits.

When it comes to security, identity matters. Positively identifying passengers is a critical tool in TSA’s multi-layered approach to security and one that has been bolstered significantly during the past 18 months. On June 21 enhanced identification requirements went into effect and passengers now have to be positively identified before proceeding past the checkpoint. This makes sense because our law enforcement and intelligence partners go to great lengths to identify people planning attacks on aircraft. It is our obligation to stop them once they have been identified.

Since the new requirements went into effect, 16,434 people nationwide have come to the checkpoint without identification for a variety of reasons. The identity of these individuals was successfully resolved in all but 558 instances. This was during a period of time that 92 million people flew in the United States.

TSA collects real-time information from airports across the country so that our operation center can look for patterns and data points of significant security value. The information is only shared with other law enforcement partners on a need-to-know basis. The ability to "connect the dots" on emerging situations can not be underestimated. In the post 9/11 world, such analysis is so fundamental to protecting the American public that it was a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

Because our mission requires this capability, we do collect information about individuals who present false identification or misrepresent themselves to get in an airplane.

TSA EoS Blog Team