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Old May 27, 09, 6:37 pm   #1
 
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TSA SOP re: airport ID requirements provided to IDP via FOIA request

The Identity Project recently announced that they have received, via FOIA request placed in July of 2008, a copy of TSA's standard operating procedure as it pertains to attempts to verify passengers' identities prior to their crossing airport checkpoints.

Interestingly, the SOP conflicts with the information published by TSA about their "new" airport ID policy.

IDP writes:
Quote:
In response to a request by the Identity Project under the Freedom of Information Act, the TSA has for the first time given us a (redacted) version of the section on Travel Document and ID Checks from the TSA’s “Screening Management SOP” (Standard Operating Procedures) manual. Our request was made June 21, 2008, the day the TSA announced what they claimed were changes to ID “requirements” for air travelers. It took the TSA almost seven months to respond.

The version of the SOP manual which the TSA has now made public is dated June 30, 2008, so it ought to reflect the changes announced in the TSA’s June 21, 2008 press release. But there is nothing at all in the sections of the manual the TSA has released about the new procedures and new ID verification form which the TSA had, in fact, started using. Rather than requiring people who don’t have or don’t choose to show government-issued ID credentials to execute affidavits stating who they are under penalty of perjury, the TSA procedures manual requires that such people be allowed to proceed through secondary screening as “selectees”, and specifically directs screeners and other TSA staff not to make any attempt to detain or delay them.

The TSA procedures manual states that the “Travel Document Checker” (TDC) must “ask to see” each person’s travel document. (”Travel document” appears to be used to mean “ticket” or “confirmation”, contrary to the international industry-standard usage of “travel document” to mean “passport or other ID”.)

The key words used are “ask” and “request”, not “demand”. The procedures further state:
Quote:

If the individual’s identification documents remain suspect, the STSO [Screening Officer] must notify an LEO [law enforcement officer] for resolution….

Screening of the individual may proceed while waiting for an LEO response. If an LEO fails to respond within established airport timeframes, the STSO must process the individual as a selectee. If the individual clears selectee screening, do not attempt to detain or delay the individual from entering the sterile area for the purpose of obtaining LEO clearance….

Individuals who appear to be 18 years of age or older with a valid travel document, but without an ID, or in possession of an invalid ID, must be designated and screened as a selectee.
Any detention, search, or interrogation by a law enforcement officer, of course, would be subject to well-established legal standards for warrant, probable cause, or sufficent basis for suspicion.

The other key word in the phrase “ask to see” in the procedures is “see”, which would require only that you allow visual inspection of your documents. There’s nothing in the procedures requiring or authorizing the TDC to demand that you surrender possession or physical control of your documents, although in fact they often demand that you give them your documents and let go of them yourself.

Contrary to TSA claims to have firm legal authority for their ID checking and other screening practices, this section of the TSA SOP manual suggests that the TSA knows that their authority is limited, and in particular does not extend to detention, general-puprose search, confiscation of documents, or compelled responses to interrogatories.

These are “procedures”, mind you. Not policies. Not regulations. Not laws. Congress has never debated or approved any of this, nor has any judge or jury. The excerpts from the TSA manual that we received gave little hint of how much “discretion” the TSA thinks it has, or gives its minions at individual airports or checkpoints, to use “nonstandard” procedures if they feel like it.

If you’re going to be trying to fly without showing ID credentials, or without ones that the TSA finds acceptable, you might want to carry a copy of the procedures manual, to remind the TSA that they aren’t supposed to detain or delay you. If you do, please let us know how it goes.
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Old May 27, 09, 7:42 pm   #3
 
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Very interesting. I sent the link to my wife her reply was "Francine slacks too much".
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Old May 27, 09, 9:05 pm   #4
 
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Confirmation of what many of us have suspected.

Reading the SOP, and comparing it to the actual practices I have observed conclusively demonstrate one thing -- The "rules" are kept secret in order to ensure that screeners can make them up or disregard them at whim, not to protect sensitive information.
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Old May 28, 09, 1:02 am   #5
 
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the tricky thing about redactions...

If memory serves, some of the issues you all are concerned about are covered in the redacted sections of the document received by the Identity Project.

In any case, the whole document is currently out of date. If it takes nearly a year to get a FOIA request answered, it is likely that any new requests will also lead to the release of outdated information.
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Old May 28, 09, 7:00 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spotnik
In any case, the whole document is currently out of date. If it takes nearly a year to get a FOIA request answered, it is likely that any new requests will also lead to the release of outdated information.
And, like, direly outdated information. About 80% of that document is currently invalid. It certainly seems that the TSA redacted the SSI out of it, then sent the version that was most-current at the point in time when the FOIA request was first made. Way, way out of date.
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Old May 28, 09, 7:03 am   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HSVTSO Dean View Post
And, like, direly outdated information. About 80% of that document is currently invalid. It certainly seems that the TSA redacted the SSI out of it, then sent the version that was most-current at the point in time when the FOIA request was first made. Way, way out of date.
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!
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Old May 28, 09, 7:11 am   #8
 
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Don't know what to believe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSVTSO Dean View Post
And, like, direly outdated information. About 80% of that document is currently invalid. It certainly seems that the TSA redacted the SSI out of it, then sent the version that was most-current at the point in time when the FOIA request was first made. Way, way out of date.
Dean, You have me in a quandary. On one hand you are a calm voice of reason who gives good, useful information so your assertion that the June, 2008 document is out of date is credible. On the other hand, it seems that another TSA SOP is to make false claims based on secret documents, thus making it impossible to demonstrate the falsity of the claim.

So I'll ask a direct question. What is the effective date for the SOP directive covering ID verification that is currently in use? Is it June, 2008? Surely the date on the document cannot be SSI!
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Old May 28, 09, 7:15 am   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T-the-B
So I'll ask a direct question. What is the effective date for the SOP directive covering ID verification that is currently in use? Is it June, 2008? Surely the date on the document cannot be SSI!
It's not SSI, but I don't know it off the very top of my head (still at home just at the moment). Give me a couple hours to get to work, and I'll let you know~
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Old May 28, 09, 8:15 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spotnik View Post
the whole document is currently out of date.
Maybe so, but it still provides useful information. It shows that the press release last year and the information that was published elsewhere about the "new policy" was either false or misleading.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spotnik View Post
If it takes nearly a year to get a FOIA request answered, it is likely that any new requests will also lead to the release of outdated information.
It took nearly a year under the Bush "don't provide any more information that you absolutely must and stonewall as much and for as long as possible" direction. Obama's "provide whatever information people want unless there's very good reason not to" direction may allow for more relevant information to be received, and for it to be delivered in a timely manner.
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Old May 28, 09, 8:16 am   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Me
Give me a couple hours to get to work, and I'll let you know~
May, 2009.

(there was a couple of minor changes to the TDC policy this month )
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Old May 28, 09, 11:38 am   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spotnik View Post
In any case, the whole document is currently out of date. If it takes nearly a year to get a FOIA request answered, it is likely that any new requests will also lead to the release of outdated information.
Journalists who sometimes write about government policies and actions use FOIA fairly regularly so I have a modicum of experience here.

It's not supposed to take "nearly a year". That delay, arguably, violates both the spirit and letter of FOIA law. The law covering FOIA requests to U.S. government agencies requires the agency to grant or deny a FOIA request within 20 working days, barring "unusual circumstances".

A good overview of FOIA is available from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
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Last edited by greggwiggins; May 28, 09 at 11:44 am. Reason: corrected a typo
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Old May 28, 09, 12:26 pm   #13
 
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Dude, what kind of changes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSVTSO Dean View Post
(there was a couple of minor changes to the TDC policy this month )
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Old May 28, 09, 1:45 pm   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greggwiggins View Post
Journalists who sometimes write about government policies and actions use FOIA fairly regularly so I have a modicum of experience here.

It's not supposed to take "nearly a year". That delay, arguably, violates both the spirit and letter of FOIA law. The law covering FOIA requests to U.S. government agencies requires the agency to grant or deny a FOIA request within 20 working days, barring "unusual circumstances".

A good overview of FOIA is available from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Why is it not surprising that the TSA violates both the letter and the spirit of the law?

Phil, ask again for this information just to see what happens.
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Old May 28, 09, 3:20 pm   #15
 
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submitted FOIA request for TSA policies re: airport ID

Quote:
Originally Posted by doober View Post
Why is it not surprising that the TSA violates both the letter and the spirit of the law?

Phil, ask again for this information just to see what happens.
I didn't ask the first time. That was The Identity Project. I'm not affiliated with them, but am grateful for the work they do.

Today, I submitted a FOIA request to DHS for copies of any documents pertaining to TSA policies regarding discovery and verification of identities of passengers by TSA staff at airports in the United States.
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