For years, advocates of the security state dismissed civil rights concerns over intrusive TSA searches and requirements that air passengers show their papers by suggesting people have a choice – that this is all optional – they could take the train instead.
No more. The government’s rail corporation, Amtrak, has now asked the TSA to check passengers lists against the No Fly List. It could become no train travel list, too.
Amtrak has asked the TSA to start screening some of its passengers against the Terrorist Screening Database watchlist maintained by the Threat Screening Center to see if known or suspected terrorists have been riding the rails, according to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security privacy impact document obtained by the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit.
The program, part of the Amtrak Rail Passenger Threat Assessment and which has not been previously reported, would compare personal passenger information from Amtrak – which may also later include a traveler’s “publicly available social media” profiles viewed by DHS personnel – to the government’s terrorist screening database.
They’re starting with historical analysis and plan to report to Amtrak on the extent to which people on the No Fly List have been riding rail (what they’re supposed to do more or less). However, the plan is to share matches “with other law enforcement agencies pursuant to established routine uses.”
People have been known to make it onto these government lists by accident (an FBI agent checks the wrong box by mistake). People have gotten on the list as retaliation for refusing to work as a snitch. And people have been confused for people who are on the list. So those of you who dismiss this as simply targeting ‘bad people’ despite the lack of due process or judicial review miss the point.