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TSA Mislead Public on Passenger Data

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posted on Mar, 26 2005 @ 10:40 AM
The Associated Press
Updated: 8:54 p.m. ET March 25, 2005

The Transportation Security Administration misled the public about its role in obtaining personal information about 12 million airline passengers to test a new computerized system that screens for terrorists, according to a government investigation.

The report, released Friday by Homeland Security Department Acting Inspector General Richard Skinner, said the agency misinformed individuals, the press and Congress in 2003 and 2004. It stopped short of saying TSA lied.

“TSA officials made inaccurate statements regarding these transfers that undermined public trust in the agency,” the report said. “These misstatements were apparently not meant to mischaracterize known facts. Instead, they were premised on an incomplete understanding of the underlying facts.”

Screening system required to protect privacy
The report comes at a sensitive time for the TSA, which is using airline passenger data — which can include credit card information, phone number and address — to test a computerized system for screening passengers, called Secure Flight.

Congress has said that TSA can’t proceed with Secure Flight unless the Government Accountability Office reports that the technology ensures privacy and that the data is protected. That report is due Monday.

The report concluded that the TSA was inconsistent in protecting passengers’ privacy as it developed a passenger prescreening system. It did acknowledge that the agency’s environment for privacy has improved substantially.

Several inaccurate statements

The report cites several occasions where TSA officials made inaccurate statements about passenger data:

* In September 2003, the agency’s Freedom of Information Act staff received hundreds of requests from Jet Blue passengers asking if the TSA had their records. After a cursory search, the FOIA staff posted a notice on the TSA Web site that it had no JetBlue passenger data. Though the FOIA staff found JetBlue passenger records in TSA’s possession in May, the notice stayed on the Web site for more than a year.
* In November 2003, TSA chief James Loy incorrectly told the Governmental Affairs Committee that certain kinds of passenger data were not being used to test passenger prescreening.
* In September 2003, a technology magazine reporter asked a TSA spokesman whether real data were used to test the passenger prescreening system. The spokesman said only fake data were used; the responses “were not accurate,” the report said.

The report also disclosed that the TSA had a much broader role in getting and using passenger data than had been previously disclosed.

Between February 2002 and June 2003, TSA had a role in 14 transfers of data involving at least 12 million records obtained without passengers’ knowledge or permission

italics added to highlight understatement
bold added for additional emphasis


It doesn't surprise me that this report was conveniently released on a "good" Friday preceding Easter weekend for minimum coverage & damage control. Unlike others who repeatedly give their loyal benefit of the doubt to this administration, this latest abuse has been rather odvious to me. Airline manifests & logs so far, just wait till biometric & eugenic data soon enters the GIG (Global Information Grid), accessed by dirty hands with "special interests" in unconstitutionally profiling our "nation of interest". TSA proves it can't be trusted.

Some further abuses for example:
* Procurement process and bureaucracy: Both the Intelligence Community agencies and their contractors conduct procurement through sometimes complex, risk-averse, and slow-moving bureaucracies that often present an advantage to contracting incumbents.

Government Accountability Office's (GAO) recent outsourcing of records of more than a trillion dollars worth of federal expenditures into the unknown hands of private company Global Computer Enterprises (GCE) database hinders public examination on how tax money is spent.

For the last 25 years, the public could peer into the obscure world of federal contracting through sets of CDs made available each quarter for as little as $60.
These computer records gave the public unfettered access to information about more than $300 billion in nonclassified contracts the government signs each year.

However, thanks to clever kleptocrats that is no longer possible.

GCE's newly 'designed' database suspectly leaves key search fields omitted. Viewers can no longer search the database by product service code, which is the government coding scheme for finding a product or a service that is being contracted.

Furthermore, users are required to sign a disclosure agreement contract to receive a password and log-in that enables the government to keep click-by-click records of an individual's research.

In this case, anyone who thinks this procurement database has improved is a victim of ignorance. Just 'Who' is monitoring this GCE to make sure all records are properly entered or prioritized? Private companies take no oaths as far as I know - accountability to the public? - Yeah Right. Hell, GCE could in fact be a NSA/CIA alias for all the FOI we really know.

The Sleeper Must Awaken
Be aware your personal information is being pigeonholed & packaged to the highest or most connected bidders. This alarming trend of profiling US citizens, limiting our rights of privacy and access to information at the expense of Government & their private contractor/companies methodically enhancing their own rights & opportunistic agendas in the name of domestic security is further encouraged by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004:

Intelligence Community (IC) is now
undergoing substantial growth and change driven by a number of factors,
*Drivers of the Intelligence Market
More than ever, "connecting the dots" is considered key to preventing
terrorism, defeating America's enemies in the GWOT (Global War on Terrorism), and achieving other vital national security objectives.

*Shifting contracting and R&D practices:
Responding to requirements to enlist the private sector in transformation, the IC has launched a variety of initiatives to increase the scope and breadth of contractor support, including the acquisition of innovative high technology, the attraction of disadvantaged businesses, and the positioning of IC agencies as good customers. Much of the billions being spent by the IC in outsourcing involve huge and often classified projects by major defense contractors. This is part of a larger trend, exemplified by the $2 billion, 10-year "Project Groundbreaker" contract started in 2001 to upgrade the NSA's IT infrastructure. However, smaller subcontractors used by these large corporations represent a significant part of the market. In addition, members of the IC are significantly increasing their own contractor pools, adding thousands of small- and medium-size vendors.

*Dual-Benefit Technology Development and Commercialization:
The unique data mining software that helps an IC agency detect terrorist activity today may be modified to help a major corporation control its inventory tomorrow. Conversely, technologies now transforming the corporate sector may be adapted to the IC's missions. IC spending is also spurring the development of an "Informatics Corridor," centered in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, (home to the NSA) and stretching to the National Institutes of Health (backers of bio-informatics research) in Maryland, DHS and FBI in Washington D.C., CIA in Northern Virginia, and other IC members around the Washington Beltway. IC demands for new technology, supported by research at local institutions such as the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, are generating new business activity by entrepreneurs and mid-tier companies, drawing interest from around the world and creating an industry hub focused on
informatics, knowledge discovery, and information assurance software.

Collecting Interest off "Persons of Interest"

The age of GATTACA is fast approaching.

[edit on 26-3-2005 by Vajrayana]


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