The Transportation Security Administration wants to hire 1,300 people, and divert 700 more from actual airport screening duties, to look for fake IDs.
Pitching the idea before Congress on Tuesday, TSA head Kip Hawley asked for $60 million in new funding for fiscal 2008, to pay these screeners to do nothing but check identification against boarding passes and detect fake IDs.
And you’ll never guess who’s been trying to get through airport security with fake IDs. I’ll give you a hint: it isn’t the terrorists.
“It was astounding how many fake documents” were detected at checkpoints created to test the magnitude of the problem, Hawley said. He told lawmakers that some fakes belonged to minors and others to illegal immigrants. . . .
Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, criticized the plans to shift existing staff, saying such a move would reduce the number of employees available to address other security concerns.
But Hawley said the ID checkers were necessary “from a security point of view.” — Government Executive
More like a security theater point of view. This particular check is one of the least useful things the TSA could be doing, for three reasons.
First, identification alone does not provide security. It only provides identification, and only to the extent that the document is trustworthy. Jim Harper of the Cato Institute explains this in detail in his new book, Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood.
Second, identification does not give you even the slightest clue of a person’s intentions, unless he happens to be on the no-fly list, and the terrorists have already learned to send new people on suicide missions. But even the no-fly list is useless, and Homeland Security is cutting it in half anyway, so this doesn’t wash.
Finally, Americans have the right to fly inside the U.S. without showing identification at all, making it completely pointless to subject them to the check, from a security standpoint. It serves a very useful purpose from a police-state standpoint, though.
And I’m not at all astounded that all those identification checks have turned up are illegal immigrants and minors. I’m also not at all astounded that the actual number of each wasn’t provided, so that the magnitude (lack thereof) of these non-problems could be measured.
Kip Hawley, it seems, is still an idiot, and that’s not astounding either.