back to article Forgot your ID? You must be a terrorist

The US Transportation Security Administration has done a backflip on a policy of adding people who had forgotten their ID to its database of suspect fliers. The scheme kicked off in June, according to USA Today, the same time the agency officially declared people could not board planes in the US unless they showed ID. At the …


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  1. John Chadwick

    One wonders.....

    When too much information becomes the weak point....

  2. The Dark Lord

    Terminally Suspicous Agency?

    Treating everyone as suspicious just means you have no means to track those who are actually suspicious. There is no differentiator. Unfortunately, the world's security "authorities" seem unable to grasp this concept.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    weak vs. stron points

    Hinting that there are weak points to this system implies that there are strong points aswell... which of ause there aren´t.

    Airline passangers should all be locked up as they are all obviously terrorists.... Aren´t they?

    Ano cause I´ll be flying to the big bad US soon.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    >> Being added to the database, effectively meant that innocent but absent-minded

    >> fliers in the US would find their IDs slapped in a database with everyone else the

    >> TSA decided was an undesirable, including people who breached flight securities

    >> regs or acted suspiciously. Or are foreign. (We’re just guessing on that last one.)

    I don't think you would actually need to be 'foreign', having a 'foreign' appearance should suffice.

    Mines the black Bisht cloak.

  5. JBR

    forgetful is suspicious

    as in "I can't remember where I was when they was robbed guv"

    The real question is whether the risk from terror outweighs the cost in terms of restrictions of civil liberties and general aggro/ privacy invasion

    Personally I think no but that's because all this terror mularkey p**ses me off especially at the heel holes that are our airports, but I'm in no position to judge the terror threat.

    I reckon it's a lot less than the government reckons though, and it's just a handy excuse to line their and their mates pockets with my hard earned

  6. Knowledge
    Jobs Horns

    Probably because...

    ...the 'Terror Database' is actually just 'The Database' being introduced by (not much) stealth

  7. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Perfectly reasonable...

    ... At least, no *less* reasonable than the original idea. After all, what's the point of a no-fly list if you can circumvent it by saying "Sorry, I forgot." at the check-in? Even someone stupid enough to get a job as a suicide bomber can be taught to say *that*.

    Of course, the real question is not "Are you a dangerous terrorist?" but "Have you come under the influence of someone who is?" and for that you need to check IQ, not ID.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Illogical, captain

    They can't add you to the naughty list if they don't know who you are.

    They can't be certain who you are if you don't have ID.

    OK, try again:

    If they add you to the list, it means they think you're not who you say you are.

    The name in the database is who you said you were.

    So this is a list of people who might have been impersonated by other (unknown) people?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So if Bin Laden forgets his passport

    he has free reign to fly anywhere in the USA - great security from a great nation (insert irony icon here !!!)

  10. chuckufarley

    A free thinker...

    I always get subjected to the "extra security scan" at US airports. I makes no difference whether or not I have my ID and/or passport. I speak my mind when I have something to say and I am not afraid of what anyone thinks about it in return.

    We are talking about the USA here.

    Maybe if I didn't post things like this online I'd have less problems traveling, but then again this is the "Information Age" and I want the people in charge to know what I think. Since they'd never bother listen to me if they even if bothered to come to my local pub, I say it in places like this instead.

    For more info on the title of this comment see:

    Coat, Hat, Pub.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a well thought out policy

    >on a policy of adding people who had forgotten their ID to its database of suspect fliers

    So you turn up with no ID and they ask, "Who are you?" To which you reply, "George Bush", and they add you to the no fly list.

    The only surprise here is that someone noticed the flaw and revoked the policy.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, the War on Tourism continues

    Now they're targeting those pesky internal tourists too...

  13. Lyndon Hills

    No ID?

    So they are unable to confirm your ID because you've forgotten your documents. They are going to add you to their database which is guaranteed to cause you trouble when you travel in the future.

    Clearly any sane person who has forgotten their documents will claim to be someone else. Anybody else. The database will be even less useful, as time goes on.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    I know you were just guessing on the 'foreigners' reason. However theyre 'merkins, and having pot-plant I.Q.s they're probably a little thin on their own ideas. Probably best not to give them any eh? Just in case one of them works out how to use a computer and manages to find el Reg.

  15. dervheid

    Getting to be...

    harder to get into (and around in) the US than it ever was to get into the USSR.

    And about as worthwhile from a business/tourism point of view.

    The Terrorists have succeeded. The US authorities are terrified.

  16. Ferry Boat


    Why do they think that being dodgy about ID means you are a terrorist? Terrorists usually have the best ID, their own. As for probing for weak points, why would they bother there are plenty of well known ones and you won't need to worry if you've your own ID. If they are at the airport it's really too late. You need to catch them well before that. The TSA conducts its own tests and they often manage to sneak things like guns past security points. Get the handcart ready and set the SatNav to 'Hell'.

  17. Rob


    1. Forgetfully leave wallet at home.

    2. Turn up at airport, sans ID, give *a* name to TSA.

    3. Have no way of proving that it's really your name.

    4. This name, which nobody knows if it's yours or not, gets added to a database.

    Is it just me, or is there a teensy little flaw here...?

  18. MrGutts

    TSA = Joke

    TSA is a bunch of freaking rejects and that agency is damn money pit for the US tax payers. Most of the goofs checking people at the gates are x-criminals. They can't even do a proper background check.

    Sometimes I wish I lived in the Europe/UK with you guys/gals.

    Dear Sir,

    Your now labeled a terrorist for writing this.



  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's no such thing as too much information.

    You can simply filter it.

    There is however, too little information.

  20. Chris Adams

    Weak point

    Surely if a terrorist wanted to probe for a weak point all he'd have to do is carry ID?

    Anyone in any kind of security position should know that the biggest threat comes from (trusted) inside, not (untrusted) outside your borders.

    The more you rely on data as a source of information the less able you are to react flexibly on that information. You become predictable and that is a weakness.

    This is where I add would a snide comment about our own ID Card proposals, but, you know, choir, preaching and all that.

  21. Dan Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Is this the same TSA that forgot where a laptop was for nine days?

    And forgot to encrypt its contents?

  22. Jeremy

    One also wonders...

    When people will just say "sod it, I'll walk" because it's less hassle than dealing with TSA.

  23. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    I wonder...

    if you cannot show an ID, how do they know you are giving your true name? Could this be a way of getting the name George W. Bush on the terrorist list?

    Black helicopters, because I am sure you could get (dragged) into one of those without ID

  24. Dan Salter
    Thumb Down


    If these people haven't got their ID & have been unable to prove who they are, what information is going to be input to the database?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Do these cretins know how counterproductive it is to have a database of false positives? Not only does it mean those not flagged get an easier access, but that people learn to distrust the database and any information it contains.

    Its obviously not fit for purpose. Its also obvious the TSA is managed by buffoons.

    If they want to be efficient, if not politically correct, then simply make a database of known muslims and check them AND anyone looking like they come from a muslim country. Far higher probability of detecting a bad guy - not that any security screening has ever caught a terrorist.

  26. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    Dumb insolence

    I wonder how on earth I'll ever be able to get into the jail system over there to visit my friends. It's like the dumb insolence infraction in the army - you can't win. As with Pinochet, you must not only say and do what the authorities demand, you must also smile and show enthusiasm while doing it.

    Next thing you know they'll be covering you with electrodes and sweat sensors to check if you're feeling icky about what they're doing.

    Think I'll go to Canada, walk across the border in some forest, and hitch down to LA.

    (Paris cos she's in LA but doesn't have to bother about this shit...)

  27. Chris
    Paris Hilton

    Forget that

    How can your Id be put in a database if you've forgotten it ?

  28. Kevin Fields
    Paris Hilton

    Just who is the terrorist?

    TSA won't have to worry about me bombing a plane anytime soon. Thanks to their own terrorism of American consumers, I will never step on an airplane. Hopefully I'll never have to hear "Papers, please" while driving down the Interstate.

    Paris, because I heard she forgot her I.D. once and was frisked for hours by security...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One wonders if....'s going to be unlawful (in USA and UK) to be forgetfull. Imagine:-

    Policman: "OK, lets have a dawn raid on Joe Bloggs..."

    PoliceWoman: "What's he done, Sir?"

    Policeman: "he forget to empty his wheelie bin yesterday. A full survailance team watched him forget!"

    Policewoman: "The Bast**d! I hope the'll throw the book at him!"

    Policeman: " where's my notebook.....Arhhh....!

    Policewoman: "Ya nicked, sir!"

  30. Graham Robinson

    Get back at your enemies

    So... just buy a ticket in the name of 'Steve Jobs' and then get to the airport saying you've forgotten your ID. No more flying for the apple man.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    weak points

    "potential terrorists who were “probing” for weak points in US airport security."

    I can tell you where the weak points are in any system; the people that use or manage it.

    (AC because now I have revealed the big secret, I will be on the undesirable list!)

  32. Adrian Midgley

    they've gone to all the trouble of determining that the person is safe to fly that time ...

    It seems likely they are safer than average to fly at subsequent times than those who have not been checked to that extent.

    Odd, really. I'm glad I don't have to run or invent a workable system that makes good sense though.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @John Chadwick

    Too much information? I wouldnt nesscarily say too much information as too much belief that everyone is a terrorist. Especially for forgetting or losing your wallet.

    /Anon cause I dont need to have the TSA outside my door wondering

  34. Anonymous Coward


    I thought those ID's were called passports?

    And if they are letting people in/out without them.. think I might of found where there going wrong!

    But I'm guessing their database of suspect fliers is probably filled with Americans' - well they do cause alot of problems for the American government so you woudl see why they would target them.

    *\. Taking mine off why the sound of a rubber glove goes on in the background.

  35. bluesxman

    Simple answer

    Ban everyone from flying until they can prove they aren't a terrorist.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Who do they register???

    If you don't have an ID, how do they know who to register in the database????

  37. andy

    @One wonders.....

    They'll simply cavity search everyone...

  38. John Dallman

    TSA: fighting climate change

    Seriously, the TSA makes a load more sense as a covert operation to reduce people's willingness to fly then it does as a security operation. Aviation is a very obvious source of CO2, although rather smaller than cars, electricity generation, and probably several other fields. The Bush Administration clearly can't say out loud that they want to shrink the aviation sector, but it's clearly a benefical side-effect of the TSA.

  39. dervheid

    @ Simple Answer

    I'm sure they already considered that. Give them another few minor, or one major 'incident' as an excuse, however...

    Back to the trains...

    Then the buses...

    Then the roads...

    "Papers Please"

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Quick! Look at China!

    They're killing Tibetan monks! (Quick, add 18-25 year olds to the list, as they're likely to be louts!)


    Add that guy to the list, too.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    I'm George Bush, but I forgot my ID

    PS the new site layout looks crap on an ordinary 1280x800 LCD. I dread to think what it would look like on my dual monitor 3520x1200 setup.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TSA rules

    Pilots are arrogant bitches!

  43. Gary

    Why I fly myself

    It's looking more and more appealing to eventually get my jet rating, so I can just fly myself. Commercial airline security is getting silly, but the TSA hasn't yet caught on to imposing the same restrictions to general aviation. And GA is the one thing that isn't yet ruined here in the US.

  44. Al Storer

    Wait a minute

    you mean they WEREN'T requiring ID for internal flights before? How long have we had such a requirment in Europe? I can't fly from London to Edinburgh without a Passport, Driver's Licence (photocard version only) or other approved ID. How did they actually know who's been flying all this time?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    TSA Holes

    The whole thing is poorly thought out and full of holes. Always try to check in on-line because if it won't let you, it probably means you've been randomly selected for an airport check-in and a date with the TSA special grilling squad. Yes, it happened to me once, hence the AC this time. Can't go around giving away secrets, after all.

  46. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Why do you do it...?

    "...Ano(nymous) cause I´ll be flying to the big bad US soon..."

    May one respectfully ask WHY you are going to the US if they treat people like this?

    The only way to stop them is to stop going there

  47. Chris iverson
    Thumb Down

    no more flying for me

    Going to drive everywhere now. Im done, let the TSA and the airlines fail until my gov't bails them out.....again

  48. Aron A Aardvark

    All Heil Zee Homelanders!

    Remember folks, anyone not wearing a TSA or Homeland Security uniform is automatically added to The Infallible Database of Suspicions.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Being forgetful

    like the way most .gov agencies "forget" to purge their databases?

  50. dervheid
    Dead Vulture

    @ Gary

    I appear to have missed your happy little band for consideration in my 'simple answer' reply!

    But I'll bet that THEY haven't!

    USA - No Flying


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