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Homeland Security

Washington File

25 June 2003

"TSA Offers Real Solutions," by James M. Loy

(TSA Administrator's op-ed article from USA Today) (520)
(This byliner by Transportation Security Administrator James M. Loy
first appeared in USA Today June 25, 2003 and is in the public domain.
No republication restrictions.)
(begin byliner)
TSA Offers 'Real Solutions'
By James M. Loy
(Adm. James M. Loy is administrator of the Transportation Security
The new system will have more checks to limit mistaken identity.
Securing air travel from terrorist threats is a demanding
responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
That's why there is a no-fly list to help keep terrorists off aircraft
and why we are developing a second-generation Computer-Assisted
Passenger Prescreening System, known as CAPPS II.
The TSA is the first to agree that our current system for prescreening
passengers is outdated, oftentimes resulting in frustrating delays for
innocent travelers. The result is greater reliance on the list of
individuals who may be a threat to aviation, based on information from
federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
That situation presents challenges -- challenges the TSA is determined
to meet, not just grouse about.
First, a small number of travelers with names similar to those on the
no-fly list often are delayed when getting boarding passes. So far, we
have heard from a tiny number of the 45 million people who fly each
month. To date, only 16 of them have sought relief from the TSA.
Second, all 74 domestic airlines check passengers against the list
using procedures they individually determine. The result is sometimes
inconsistent application of the procedure for clearing travelers,
leading to those frustrating delays.
To address both problems, the TSA is offering real solutions.
Short-term, the TSA has developed a way for those travelers who
experience a delay getting a boarding pass to seek relief by writing
our Office of the Ombudsman for information about a new clearing
process (e-mail ombudsman@dhs.gov). In fact, airlines already have
been notified about several of those passengers, whose travel
experiences now should be more pleasant.
The long-term solution is CAPPS II, which would take routine passenger
information -- name, date of birth, home address and home phone number
-- and check it against private-sector databases to confirm a
passenger's identity. The result should be a more consistent approach
to pre-screening passengers, improved security and less hassle for
In developing CAPPS II, the TSA initiated a national dialogue with
everyone concerned, including privacy advocacy groups. The goal was to
ensure that privacy is maintained while security is enhanced. In the
near future, the TSA will provide additional information about CAPPS
II to address public complaints and concerns. We want to have a clear
written record, against which the public can hold us accountable.
When it is implemented, CAPPS II will be a carefully limited system
that reflects American values. Our intent is not to be intrusive, but
to stop those few people who pose a threat. With both solutions, the
TSA is underscoring its commitment to deliver security and customer
service to everyone boarding a flight.
(end byliner)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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