In July 1996, flight TWA 800 exploded in mid-air, 12 minutes after taking off from JFK International Airport in New York. All 230 passengers on board were killed.
It would be four years before an investigation concluded the likely cause of the explosion was a short circuit in the plane’s fuel tank.
But at the time, President Clinton felt the overwhelming need to do something.
People suspected terrorism. So Clinton issued new airport security rules.
From then on, identification was required to board an airplane.
Before that, you just needed a ticket.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, airport security escalated.
The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) were born.
Screening procedures intensified. Agents could now feel you up and down. Then came naked body scanners and the Real ID requirement.
Real ID standards were part of the post-9/11 security hysteria. But they are just now coming into full effect.
The federal guidelines require states to issue IDs that meet certain federal standards, or else the ID cannot be used for flying.
One of these standards is that the photo on the ID has to work with facial recognition systems.
CBP (Customs and Border Protection) has now completed a pilot program for using biometric data for boarding flights exiting the country. Biometric data includes unique identity markers like fingerprints, iris scans, and facial recognition.
The DHS audited the pilot program, and found that it was a success. They caught 1,300 people who had overstayed their visas.
Wait, what? I thought this was supposed to be about national security?
But that’s not what you get from the propaganda piece on the CBP’s website.
One of their “success stories” involved a Polish couple leaving the country. They were using fake documents. But the biometric data revealed they were ordered deported and hadn’t left.
Now they were leaving. So the CBP let them leave. But first they warned them, with official documentation, that if they returned again they could face felony charges.