The below article shows once again how
overzealous undertrained security guards are destroying commercial air travel in
the U.S. These are the "agents" who are "guarding our
safety" by stopping and body searching 80 year old war vets, congressmen,
little old ladies, infants and others, while NOT profiling young Arab/Middle
Eastern men of military age!
Banned Airport Items May Cost You Big Bucks
Travelers Can Be Fined For Confiscated Items
(Received this one in email. Author's name not mentioned)
8:03 am PDT May 24, 2005
SAN DIEGO -- With
today's tightened security, most people know they're not supposed to pack
certain items when getting on a plane. If you do forget and get caught with a
banned item, you simply hand it over and continue through the gate. Right? Maybe
not. Thanks to a little known federal safety policy, you may literally have to
pay the price, not only with your pocketbook but also with future travel
troubles. Airport officials say they are simply aiming for safer skies. But
privacy experts, and some on Capitol Hill, are up in arms. When Jon Zetterlund
mistakenly packed a Swiss Army knife in a carry-on, he wasn't surprised when
airport security confiscated it.
8:15 am PDT May 24, 2005
But Zetterlund was shocked when an official letter arrived a
few weeks later. "I had been assessed a fine of $250 for bringing a weapon
into the sterile environment of the airport," said Zetterlund. This
stepped-up safety plan was created by the Transportation Security Administration
and implemented at Lindbergh Field and airports nationwide. The TSA took over
and restructured the civil penalties for carrying-on prohibited items in
February of 2004.Zetterlund is one of nearly 10,000 passengers fined in the past
year for packing banned items.
"Our intent is just to make sure that people who are a
threat, you know, are dealt with accordingly. The, 'oh, I forgot I had it'
doesn't work with us anymore," said Lauren Stover, the Eastern Regional
Public Affairs Supervisor for the TSA.
Stover says the fines range from $250 to $10,000 depending on
the violation. But the penalties are not automatic. "We take a lot of
factors into consideration," said Stover. These factors include a person's attitude
with screeners, whether a person has tried to conceal the item and how dangerous
it is. Zetterlund was fined because of the length of his blade but says he
doesn't think he should have been a target at all.
"I don't feel as though I had intent that would really
go hand-in-hand with a fine," said Zetterlund. "Someone can take
something into one airport and end up with a penalty; another airport, the
individual item is let go by," said John Mica, Chairman of the House
Mica says the system is too arbitrary and wants most of the
fines to be eliminated. "I think TSA has gone overboard. They've fined
people for bringing a wedding cake knife on a plane," said Mica.
"Fines are imposed as a deterrent, that we can get
people to think a little bit," said Stover. Are the fines working? The TSA
intercepted more than seven million items last year, with fines in place. That's
up a million from the year before with no penalties." Passengers are not
getting the hint of what they can and cannot bring to the airport," said
security expert Eric Grasser.If you do get "bagged," you should also
be aware that it could cause problems on future flights. 10News has learned that
your name and personal information may be added to a secret database.
The TSA confirms there is a list of names of people who have
been fined. This list can make these passengers a target for extra surveillance,
including the dreaded rectal probes, when they fly. Stover says there is no way
to know whether you're in the database, and that the list is confidential for
"Certain people get placed on a list that would require
them to get additional screening every time they fly," said Stover. Airport
security officials admit this list is off-limits for security purposes. That has
some people outraged. Privacy expert Marcia Hoffman says it's important to know
what information is maintained about you by the government. If you can't even
find out if you're in the database, "you're not able to verify the accuracy
of that information and change it when it's incorrect," said Hoffman of the
Electronic Privacy Information Center. While it's policies are sparking
controversy, the TSA insists its one and only mission is to protect.
"Everything that we're doing right now is to keep the passengers
safe," said Stover.
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