You Are Being Watched

YOU ARE BEING WATCHED….You swat down one data mining project and it turns out there’s another one waiting right behind it. Say hello to ATS:

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Americans and foreigners crossing U.S. borders since 2002 have been assessed by the Homeland Security Department’s computerized Automated Targeting System, or ATS.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years. Some or all data in the system can be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring, contracting and licensing decisions. Courts and even some private contractors can obtain some of the data under certain circumstances.

….Almost every person entering and leaving the United States by air, sea or land is assessed based on ATS’ analysis of their travel records and other data, including items such as where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meal they ordered.

What kind of meal they ordered? Note to Muslims: don’t order special meals anymore. Or, if you do, order the kosher meal. That’ll mess with their heads.

Patrick Leahy claims to be outraged by the whole thing, and I confess I’m curious about whether this is really the first that Congress has heard of it. Probably not. On the other hand, what Leahy is mostly outraged about is the fact that (a) the feds seem to be sharing this information pretty promiscuously and (b) nobody is allowed to know their own terror score. If yours is high, you’ll never learn about it and you can never appeal it. You’ll just get hassled a lot every time you travel.

Did Congress know about that? Probably not. So bring on the hearings.