The Bush administration will cut back and delay an airline passenger screening program until after the presidential election, says the Washington Post. Airline officials and lawmakers had pressed the administration to drop controversial elements of the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening Program, or CAPPS II. Disagreements remain within the Department of Homeland Security, with some officials viewing it as a major security improvement and others fearing it could alienate voters who view CAPPS II as a surveillance system that pries too far into passengers’ lives, the Post reported. The program had been scheduled to begin this fall.
Initially, the government would step back from plans to subject all passengers to CAPPS II screens, which checks several government and private databases to assign each flier a risk level using a green, yellow, or red color code. The extra screening may kick in only if a passenger’s actions, such as paying cash for a ticket, flag him as suspect. Officials also likely to abandon plans to use the system to find passengers wanted for violent crimes. The government may confirm a passenger’s identity by, for example, asking to see a valid driver’s license and then checking its authenticity with a commercial data service. Then an airline agent would match that name against improving watch lists of known terrorists.