This is an absolutely incredible step that the United States government is taking against the airline industry. It is hard to conceive of how a complete passenger manifest can be produced 72 hours before a flight is to take off, yet the Transportation Safety Administration seems intent on forcing the airline industry to do the impossible: produce a definitive list of passenger 72 prior to a flight’s departure.
The names on this manifest are then going to be compared against a massive list of terror suspects in order to clear the flight for departure. The number of names on this list of suspects is astonishing.
ACLU’s Barry Steinhardt quoted press reports of 500,000 to 750,000 people on the watch list (of which the no-fly list is a subset). “If there are that many terrorists in the US, we’d all be dead.”
TSA representative Kip Hawley noted that the list has been carefully investigated and halved over the last year. “Half of grossly bloated is still bloated,” Steinhardt replied.
What is most vexing about this proposition is that the TSA has offered little evidence that this draconian measure will reduce the threat of terrorism in any measurable way. Hence, the airline industry–arguably the must competitive on the planet–is going to be forced to lose money by refusing to sell tickets during the 72 hour period before a flight without any real justification. This step by the TSA provides significant support for the contention that the only reason Americans resent government regulation is that American government regulation tends to be ineffective and senseless. Perhaps Frank Zappa said it best: