TSA has No Excuse for Not Really Checking that Passengers and Their Documents are Legit

By Janice Kephart on January 28, 2010

The REAL ID Act of 2005 sought to secure state driver license ID issuance practices and require those secure IDs be presented at airports to create a more hardened aviation security system. Although unsaid, it is well-documented that any federal officer at a portal with no means other than a black light, some minimal training, and eyesight, is significantly curtailed in identifying fraud. This is the case whether it is a border inspector at our land border ports of entry, a bouncer at a bar, or a Transportation Security Administration officer at a commercial airport. For a long time, the TSA has had a feel-good check in place for IDs presented by travelers before passing through scanning equipment. Hundreds of varieties of passports, driver licenses and other federally issued ID documents are acceptable by TSA they have no ability to discern as to legitimacy, let alone associate that ID with a person entitled to travel. There is thus no surprise that the agency has finally been busted for only looking like they are reviewing ID documents, but not really doing so at all.

Ironically, the leading proponent to repeal REAL ID, which would make it more difficult to forge IDs and get away with it by illegal alien smugglers, criminals and terrorists at airports has been Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI). Now, it seems, Hawaii leads the way in proving how badly REAL ID implementation is needed to keep illegal aliens - and anyone else using a fake ID - off domestic flights.

A story in the Hawaii Free Press speaks for itself. In the wake of the 2009 Christmas attack and a series of immigration enforcement busts that reveal how weak TSA really is on ID security, there is no excuse for TSA to not use handheld technology. The technology is available today and can verify that both the physical ID and the biographical information as associated with that ID, when presented, are valid. This would help support a secondary physical screening process at airports, fill the gap until REAL ID is in place, and then act as an additional layer of support to REAL ID when (and if) that program is fully implemented. A big "if", despite the need to shore up domestic aviation security, considering how hard Secretary Napolitano has fought against REAL ID for the past year.