US airport fake ID study 'was found in al-Qaida cave'

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Fri May 21 05:30:51 PDT 2004


The Register

 Original URL:

US airport fake ID study 'was found in al-Qaida cave'
By John Lettice (john.lettice at
Published Thursday 20th May 2004 21:47 GMT

The US House Aviation Subcommittee yesterday heard how congressional
investigators used false IDs to gain access to a series of federal
buildings and two commercial airports, and how a copy of the report
detailing their success was later found in an al-Qaida cave in Afghanistan.
The investigators were 100 per cent successful in getting past security,
but apparently less so in the case of their own report's security.

Subcommittee Chairman John Mica told a hearing
on biometric ID in aviation that the deployment of more secure ID needed to
be accelerated, given that terrorists are interested in gaining access to
restricted airport areas. The congressional investigators had made their
fake IDs using software downloaded from the Internet, and apparently this
passed muster.

Documentation presented to the hearing however included even more
comforting information about the security of the US aviation industry. If
you look down near the bottom of this document,
in the section covering the Registered Traveler program you will find a
subsection dealing with Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Credentials. As you
see, it says: "Currently, Federal LEO's can fly armed at any time, simply
by presenting their agency's credential. In addition, LEO's from 18,000
separate State and local law enforcement agencies may fly armed if they
present their agency's credential and a letter on their agency's letterhead
stating that they have an official, work-related reason to fly armed. The
use of so many different types of law enforcement credentials increases the
risk that an unauthorized person could use a forged credential to carry a
gun on-board."

Under the Registered Traveler Pilot program LEOs wishing to fly armed will
have biometric ID issued by the Transportation Security Administration
saying so, but it's not clear to us whether this will mean LEOs from the
18,000 non-Federal agencies will have to have this if they want to fly
armed, or whether the letterhead will still be enough. The pilot program
starts at five airports next month, and one would hope that the authorities
elsewhere will be taking extra special care in scrutinising LEO credentials
pending a wider rollout. .

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"Several times a week, to enter a TV studio say, or to board a plane, I
have to produce a tiny picture of my face."  -- Christopher Hitchens

More information about the cypherpunks-legacy mailing list