FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 1997

CR (202) 616-2777 TDD (202) 514-1888

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REVIEW OF FAA PASSENGER SCREENING PROPOSAL CONCLUDES IT WON'T DISCRIMINATE AGAINST AIRLINE TRAVELERS WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Attorney General Janet Reno today announced that the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has completed a review of the Federal Aviation Administration's proposed screening program to provide additional passenger security at U.S. airports. The review concluded that the program would not illegally discriminate against any travelers, but also recommended five additional steps to help ensure against discrimination in the future. "As we seek to prevent airline terrorism, we must also uphold fundamental American liberties. With the recommendations we offer, the FAA's proposal will do both," said Attorney General Janet Reno. In today's report, the Justice Department stated that the Computer Assisted Passenger Screening system (CAPS) does not record, nor give any consideration to, the race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or gender of airline passengers. CAPS also does not include as a screening factor any passenger traits that may be directly associated with such prohibited categories, such as a passenger's name or mode of dress. The report includes five recommendations for action by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Justice Department: * The FAA should conduct periodic reviews of CAPS to ensure that the screening factors continue to be reasonable predictors of risk; The Justice Department should review CAPS after it is implemented to ensure that it is being run in a nondiscriminatory manner; The DOT should expand its public education efforts to inform the American public about the purpose of airline passenger screening, as well as the right of passengers to file a complaint with DOT if they believe they were the victim of discrimination; The FAA should require domestic air carriers to obtain preapproval before implementing any passenger screening system in addition to the procedures prescribed by the FAA; and,

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The FAA should require air carriers to provide appropriate training to employees who are responsible for implementing passenger screening.

The Justice Department carried out its review at the request of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, and the Department of Transportation. In February 1997, the Commission recommended that the FAA implement the CAPS system once the Justice Department conducted a thorough review of it. The Justice Department review was carried out by its Civil Rights Division, with assistance from the FBI and the Department's Criminal Division. The Department received detailed briefings about CAPS from the FAA, obtained data from a test application of CAPS being run by Northwest Airlines, and met with civil rights and civil liberties advocates to hear their concerns about passenger screening. In addition to finding CAPS to be nondiscriminatory, the Department also found that CAPS does not violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, and does not involve any invasion of passengers' personal privacy. CAPS will operate on the computer reservation systems of domestic carriers, and will rely on information passengers otherwise provide to the air carriers for purposes unrelated to passenger screening. CAPS will not prompt the gathering of any additional information by the federal government or air carriers, and is not connected to any law enforcement or national security database. The Justice Department review also concluded that the FAA's existing manual passenger screening system does not involve any impermissible discrimination when implemented properly. When fully implemented, CAPS will generally apply to all domestic flights and a portion of international flights originating in the U.S. by U.S. carriers. The FAA's target date to begin implementation of CAPS is December 31, 1997. # # # 97-413