November 19, 2004

Welcome to America, land of the free. Papers, please?

It's a pity, too - I was just starting to really like the Amtrak Acela service, touting it to my friends and acquaintances as a 'civilized' way to get up and down the Northeast Corridor of the U.S. Then they go and completely ruin the thing. This is one of those small things that makes my spine cold; it makes me wonder what I'll tell my children one day when they ask me why I didn't see it coming, or if I did, why I didn't do something.

I remember when the Republicans used to shout that Democrats and Liberals wanted to turn the Freedom Loving United States into the Socialist Paradise of the East, where you had to produce papers just to travel around your own country. Shocking. Where's that outrage now? Bruce Schneier wrote an essay recently on this form of 'safety check' in which he tore all manner of holes in it on simple logical, functional reasons, much less philosophical ones. There simply is no defensible reason to do this kind of thing except to 'make people feel like they're being protected' - when they're really not.

The ultimate ineffectual nanny state.

They want me to produce ID during random checks on an Amtrak train. Why? Not to prove that I'm not on a watch list, or anything like that, no no. They are "not intended to determine a person's identity." Amtrak claims these on-train checks are merely to ensure that "the person who's traveling with the ticket is the person whose name is on the ticket." However, these checks are being made "as a precaution against terrorist attacks."

What?

So my ability to travel inside my country, on one of the most eminently unhijackable modes of transport available, is now subject to 'random' (coughprofilingcough) identity checks that by design won't catch anyone who is intelligent enough to ensure that they actually use their fake ID to purchase their ticket.

That would include, what, any high-schooler who has ever successfully managed to illegally purchase alcohol, I would imagine.

So much for the Acela.

Posted by jbz at November 19, 2004 2:20 PM | TrackBack

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