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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] WASHINGTON (Feb. 28) - Delta Air Lines will begin testing a new government plan for air security next month that will check background information and assign a threat level to everyone who buys a ticket for a commercial flight. The system, ordered by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks, will gather much more information on passengers than has been done previously. Delta will try it out at three undisclosed airports, and a comprehensive system could be in place by the end of the year. Transportation officials say a contractor will be picked soon to build the nationwide computer system, which will check such things as credit reports and bank account activity and compare passenger names with those on government watch lists. Civil liberties groups and activists are objecting to the plan, seeing the potential for unconstitutional invasions of privacy and for database mix-ups that could lead to innocent people being branded security risks. ``This system threatens to create a permanent blacklisted underclass of Americans who cannot travel freely,'' said Katie Corrigan, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. There also is concern that the government is developing the system without revealing how information will be gathered and how long it will be kept. Advocates say the system will weed out dangerous people while ensuring law-abiding citizens aren't given unnecessary scrutiny. Transportation officials say CAPPS II - Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System - will use databases that already operate in line with privacy laws and won't profile based on race, religion or ethnicity. ``What it does is have very fast access to existing databases so we can quickly validate the person's identity,'' Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said. An oversight panel, which will include a member of the public, is being formed. The Transportation Security Administration will set up procedures to resolve complaints by people who say they don't belong on the watch lists. Transportation Department spokesman Chet Lunner said a Federal Register notice saying the background information will be stored for 50 years is inaccurate. He said such information will be held only for people deemed security risks. Jay Stanley, an ACLU spokesman, was skeptical. ``When it says in print, 50 years, we'd like to see something else in print to counter that,'' he said. Airlines already do rudimentary checks of passenger information, such as method of payment, address and date the ticket was reserved. The system was developed by Northwest Airlines in the early 1990s to spot possible hijackers. Unusual behavior, such as purchasing a one-way ticket with cash, is supposed to prompt increased scrutiny at the airport. Capt. Steve Luckey, an airline pilot who helped develop the system, said CAPPS II will help discern a passenger's possible intentions before he gets on a plane _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk