Welcome Aboard... But First US Marshals Will Scan Your Retina

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Jeffrey Tucker via The Foundation for Economic Education,

For some 15 years, airport security has become steadily more invasive. There are ever more checkpoints, ever more requests for documents as you make your way from the airport entrance to the airplane. Passengers adapt to the new changes as they come. But my latest flight to Mexico, originating in Atlanta, presented all passengers with something I had never seen before.

We had already been through boarding pass checks, passport checks, scanners, and pat downs. At the gate, each passenger had already had their tickets scanned and we were all walking on the jet bridge to board. It’s at this point that most people assume that it is all done: finally we can enjoy some sense of normalcy.

This time was different. Halfway down the jetbridge, there was a new layer of security. Two US Marshals, heavily armed and dressed in dystopian-style black regalia, stood next to an upright machine with a glowing green eye. Every passenger, one by one, was told to step on a mat and look into the green scanner. It was scanning our eyes and matching that scan with the passport, which was also scanned (yet again).

Like everyone else, I complied. What was my choice? I guess I could have turned back at the point, decline to take the flight I had paid for, but it would be unclear what would then happen. After standing there for perhaps 8 seconds, the machine gave the go signal and I boarded.

I talked to a few passengers about this and others were just as shaken by the experience. They were reticent even to talk about it, as people tend to be when confronted with something like this.

I couldn’t find anyone who had ever seen something like this before. I wrote friends who travel internationally and none said they had ever seen anything like this.

I will tell you how it made me feel: like a prisoner in my own country. It’s one thing to control who comes into a country. But surveilling and permissioning American citizens as they leave their own country, even as they are about to board, is something else.

Where is the toggle switch that would have told the machine not to let me board, and who controls it? How prone is it to bureaucratic error? What happens to my scan now and who has access to it?

The scene reminded me of movies I’ve seen, like Hunger Games or 1984. It’s chilling and strange, even deeply alarming to anyone who has ever dreamed of what freedom might be like. It doesn’t look like this.

Why Now?

I’ve searched the web for some evidence that this new practice has been going on for a while and I just didn’t notice. I find nothing about it. I’ve looked to find some new order, maybe leftover from the Obama administration, that is just now being implemented. But I find nothing.

Update: a reader has pointed me to this page at Homeland Security:

As part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) border security mission, the agency is deploying new technologies to verify travelers’ identities – both when they arrive and when they leave the United States – by matching a traveler to the document they are presenting. CBP’s goal is to enhance national security and protect a traveler’s identity against theft through the use of biometrics.


Biometric information (such as finger, face, or iris) measures a person’s unique physical characteristics. CBP incorporated fingerprints for biometric identification and verification in 2004, and is now testing facial and iris imaging capabilities to help improve travelers’ identity protection, the integrity of our immigration system, and our national security.

I happened to be on the "one daily flight" that gets exit scanned.

Another change has to do with new rules for Homeland Security just imposed by the Trump administration. They make deportation vastly easier for the government. I have no idea if these rules are the culprit for intensified emigration checks.

What people don’t often consider is that every rule that pertains to immigration ultimately applies to emigration as well. Every rule that government has to treat immigrants a certain way also necessarily applies to citizens as well.

Chandran Kukathas is right when he says that “controlling immigration means controlling everyone.”

Regulating immigration is not just about how people arrive, but about what they do once they have entered a country. It is about controlling how long people stay, where they travel, and what they do. Most of all, it means controlling whether or not and for whom they work (paid or unpaid), what they accept in financial remuneration, and what they must do to remain in employment, for as long as that is permitted. Yet this is not possible without controlling citizens and existing residents, who must be regulated, monitored and policed to make sure that they comply with immigration laws.

To be sure, there might have been some tip off that security officials received that triggered these special measures for this flight only. Maybe they were looking for something, someone, in particular. Maybe this was a one-time thing and will not become routine.

The point is that it happened without any change in the laws or regulations. Whatever the reason, it was some decision made by security. It can happen on any flight for any reason. And who is in charge of making that decision?

On the plane, finally, my mind raced through the deeper history here. Passports as we know them are only a little over a century old. In the late 19th century, the apotheosis of the liberal age, there were no passports. You could travel anywhere in the world through whatever means you could find. Nationalism unleashed by World War I ended that.

And here we are today, with ever more controls, seeming to follow Orwell’s blueprint for how to end whatever practical freedoms we have left. And we are going this way despite the absence of any real crisis, any imminent threat? The driving force seems to be this: our own government’s desire to control every aspect of our lives.

Think of it: there might be no getting out of the country without subjecting yourself to this process. It's a digital Berlin Wall. This is what it means to put “security” ahead of freedom: you get neither.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
aloha_snakbar's picture

No compliance from me... I just will not fly...

This is not the country I was born in; its like I died and woke up in some Orwellian hellhole...

phoolish's picture

Last time on a plane was 2003.  They can keep it.

ich1baN's picture

The author has friends that travel internationally that have never seen this before? Really? I guess he and his friends have never been to China...

Zer0head's picture


"Like everyone else, I complied. What was my choice?"

half way down the jet way carry-on in tow folks behind and infront of you... ehemm ehemm  excuse me.. excuse me, sorry, excuse me, pardon me, I just need to get by  I forgot something in the car, I'll catch the next flight


Croesus's picture

You're getting really fucking obnoxious with your constant spamming.


Xythras feels the need to annoy the shit out of us with his blog, because his porn sites aren't doing too well.

He can be contacted at xtndmedia@mail.com

BTW, Tyler, he's also got a separate account under the username "xtndmedia".

john doeberg's picture

He forgot to tell us WHERE was he flying.






....... (<- insert shitty 3rd world country here)

DollarMenu's picture

He was flying to Mexico, leaving Atlanta.

In the first paragraph.

stacking12321's picture

specifically, he was flying to acapulco, where he spoke at the 3rd annual anarchapulco a few hours ago.

jeffrey tucker is founder of liberty.me, and a brilliant and inspiring human being and skilled spokesman and champion of liberty, wish there were more like him in the world.

Oh regional Indian's picture

I'm very sorry to see this happening, but it is exactly as predicted. Slowly but surely, the gates to USA are clanging shut. And all the fools cheering on the "shut the migrants out" will live (or die) to RUE this day.

All libertarians who believe in border controls are living oxy-morons.

Enjoy your chains (this is for the xenophobes).

For the rest of my truely free brothers and sisters.... can't you see the signs? Last call... :-(

Erek's picture

Want to get around most/all the "security" BS and save money? Go to the general aviation side of the airport and find a private pilot who can fly you for much less than any airline. You might not get any expensive drinks and lousy food, but he might let you try flying the machine.

Boomberg's picture

Maybe in a Piper Cub with you sticking your feet out thru the floor to get a running start. You can't fly anywhere any time in any private plane cheaper than an airline seat.

Muddy1's picture

Hey now, I have many good memories of flying with my dad in his Piper Cub.  Did I mention that h only had a student license?   He said the FAA could go to hell with all of their regulations and requirements for getting a license.

SixIsNinE's picture

yeah, but our company store is well-stocked - prolly the best !  and our company scrip has cool watermarks and no shitty plastic like the euros



Temporalist's picture

Even if they aren't libertarians there were/are enough Ron Paul supporters on here to know his very words about walls/fences also keeping you in.

Stinkworx's picture

Bullshit! Trump didn't start this!

I had my eye scanned by Airport Nazi's while entering the US in 2014 going thru Customs at LA airport. What can you do? Turn around and get back on a flight you have no ticket for after just traveling for 16 hours on a flight?

The Eye Scanners have been used in the US for some time

SixIsNinE's picture

well that explains it - all Berwick's list get the special treatment.  

no doubt a list of anarchapulco anarapreneurs was given to the Safe Keepers of our Border -  keepin' us safe , yo

kommissar's picture

but not very bright about working out intentions: they're scanning everyone on the way OUT, to build the database, so when they want to come back IN they can match biometric to the passport.  see?  that was real easy.  

NOT saying i agree with it, or if it's constitutional, it just looks obvious to me.

Sh3epdog's picture

Yeah Jeffrey Tucker is one of my favorite intellectuals alive today. 

MisterMousePotato's picture

"Chandran Kukathas is [an idiot]."

Close the borders to all but U.S. citizens. So what? I am suddenly controlled? Everything and everybody is entirely controlled?

What a stupid thing to write.

Al Gophilia's picture

You forgot to read the article.

Croesus's picture

Downvoting from several accounts, Xythras?

Even my antisemitic rants don't usually get that many downvotes...

Upvoting your own spam posts isn't going to create organic growth, like good word of mouth, and a good product will.

BTW, Xythras, seeing as you're in marketing, I thought maybe you'd like to see how others advertise.

turnball the banker's picture
turnball the banker (not verified) Croesus Feb 26, 2017 11:06 PM

Xynthos is fucked up but not as bad as those shepwave sockpuppets

Vageling's picture

Don't forget the MDB trolls spamming discredited-times and that other cocksucker with his 7K a month fraud. 

detached.amusement's picture

Bare minimum keep your fkn links on topic, but you cant even do that, you have to cross that line into spam kingdom

Ms No's picture

They probably cavity search you now if you look nervous and you bail on a flight, unless your wearing a suicide outfit.  Then they expidite you to the front and give you a box cutter.

RichardParker's picture

It was bad enough when they scan me at the TSA checkpoint and can see the skid marks in my underwear. Now this? Where does it stop?

The Saint's picture
The Saint (not verified) RichardParker Feb 26, 2017 10:49 PM

Prepare for the Alien Anal Probe coming to an airport near you!  LOL


toady's picture

They compare your cavity search to your latest colonoscopy now.

RU4Au's picture

"As a US citizen I invoke my 4th ammendment right and refuse this unreasonable search without a warrant."

kommissar's picture

zackly what i thought.  godamn sheeple...

Vageling's picture

Bingo! By complying you voluntary agreed to forgo that right. 

Winston Churchill's picture

SoP ffor green card holders on entry. and fingerprints.

Big Twinkie's picture

Years ago I was escorted out of the airport by police because I told TSA that if they sexually assaulted me I would have them arrested.  Ironic?  Lost a job because I didn't make the flight.  I won't give in.  Fuck them.

PacOps's picture

I traveled with my service dog (in the icon) before and for a few years, thru airports, after 9/11. All his tags, buckles, etc. replaced with plastic. I'd put him on a sit-stay and walk thru the detector then call him thru to heel with one command. 

Almost every time they had to find someone not afraid of dogs to come and pat him down. Nobody fucked with us. (120lbs of GSD off-leash!).

He flew in the cabin with me - 720 flights over the years - the stews loved him - would bring him a pillow and water (which he never touched when flying - his choice).

boattrash's picture

I'm with ya...

Like everyone else, I complied. What was my choice? 

At that point, you could have told them to "fuck themselves".

I've told them that before, and it really doesn't hurt too bad. They still have pics of me with two birds flying high center...

turnball the banker's picture
turnball the banker (not verified) Big Twinkie Feb 26, 2017 11:04 PM

Your alright twinkle you got ticker

Duc888's picture

Long story short, coming back from my Colombia trip I landed at JFK and they pulled me off the cattle line and grilled me for 45 minutes.  I contracted some insane intestinal bug down there and was shitting brown water for three days.  They told me they were gonna do a cavity search I laughed at them and said "go for it, I'll spackle every one of you and these four walls with shit."  


They never gave me the peek a boo search....

LazyDaze's picture

I've travelled into and out of China many times.  In fact, I am sitting in China as I write this.  I have never been subjected to the kind of checks described in this article, nor do I know anyone else who has.

Oh regional Indian's picture

ich1 is probably thinking Israhell and Saying China. 

Sounds like a poodly parrot to me...

dogismycopilot's picture

No. in israel they have cute little Israeli chicks who ask you personal questions while they go through your luggage.

I find it mildly erotic.

forestwind's picture

I have travelled into and out of China many times too and I also am sitting in China as I write this. The Chinese people would NEVER tolerate being subjected to this kind of humiliating, unnecessary, uneneding personal interference. They would not see any "security" issues in this process at all, but would think waste of money. They would think why am I being forced to pay for this crap and how much are they stealing from me to do this? They would be thinking correctly. This is all another BS money grab scam. At the check outs, the Chinese do not have their wallets in hand, ready to pay. They wait to see the bill, then fumble around to find their cash or cards or smart phones as if paying is some kind of unexpected event since they assume that everyone is trying to cheat everyone else, thus the reluctant hesitation. Of course those travelling within this vast country can take a high-speed train instead of flying. When you count up the early arrival wasted time, the inevitable flight delays, the time and expense to get to and from the remote airports, you can easily just take a train. Of course China can provide these trains because they are not stupid enough to piss away $million a minute to garrison and "patrol" the globe. If some goon even dared try to pat down and grope a Chinese grandma in China, she could very easily start a riot with universal support.

ShadowsPapa's picture

China also has other stricter rules that means they don't have refugees coming into China in great numbers and it's far easier to recognize someone who doesn't fit.
In Korea, the government knows more about you than you do - and I mean SOUTH Korea. It's a given - they know you inside and out. But the thing there is that everyone in Korea knows this so if anything happens, the government IS accountable......... and they don't dare mess with the data they have.
It's a system that works because anyone born there grows up with it. And there's NO problem with identity theft, no problem with stolen credit cards, etc. Your life is on your phone and is connected with the Korean equiv. of our social security number. It's accepted and actually expected. The Koreans know that if they are accused of anything, there is enough information to prove them innocent (if they are). There is no need for investigation of any Korean citizen talking to Russians - the government knows everything you do. So you simply don't do such things. When my son speaks to Koreans about this - they shrug as if "so what's the big deal?".
Do you see terror attacks there? Do they have problems with rape gangs or shooters in night clubs?
(well, they do have a corrupt president and the head of Samsung is in deep doo-doo but that's due to the old social ways regarding companies over there)

Bungbo's picture

"In Korea, the government knows more about you than you do - and I mean SOUTH Korea. It's a given - they know you inside and out."

Yep.  I lived in China for 3 years and now in Korea.  In both, health checks are required.  Figerprinting, pictures, scans, etc. at the airports....

ich1baN's picture

Wow, well I lived in Beijing and that was one of the first things they did when entering and exiting the country. Every "foreign international traveller" had to look into an eye retina scanner that scanned the retina. They also took a picture of your face for reference. You either don't recognize the technology or you haven't been to Beijing International.

They also took a vial blood from me and every Westerner that was in the country longer than 2 weeks, which was "required" in order to get our residence visa. This was 2013.

darkpool2's picture

Or Japan, or Cambodia ( on exit FFS!)..........to name just another two

ShadowsPapa's picture

Or Israel.........
It's the bad guys that are making this a thing - not our government, whose FIRST and only real job is to protect citizens. We can allow anyone to fly on any plane to anywhere willy-nilly, that's fine, but we can't complain then if we get blown to bits.
We have tasked our government with doing what the sole job of government it - protect us. With freedom come some requirements and some work. Freedom isn't free, thanks to the bad guys out there who want to kill us and who are rewarded if they die in the process of killing us.
Fake documents, no documents, stolen IDs (I'm told that's how my son got out of the country) and more. What is the alternative?
I know - and I hear ya all, but does anyone have a good alternative other than to not fly?
What else should be done if this is just too much? You have a password for this site, for eBay, PayPal, your bank, your free Gmail account, and you lock the house and car but when it comes to flying with strangers from other lands, we have problems with what is likely the best - even the only way to be truly secure.
The movies and TV shows we watch (and pay under-skilled actors millions of dollars for) have had these things in their scripts for years - we've seen buildings on TV, planes, computers and other things shown using such scans - but never saw it coming?

Seriously, if we don't like this as being intrusive, then what is the alternative. I am hoping the diverse intelligent group here can come up with a better, safer, alternative that will keep us in the sky and not in some field in PA or the side of a tower somewhere.
How do you know the person sitting next to you isn't an ISIS plant? Surgury does wonders, people can learn other languages and accents, dress and act like they are from Missouri with a little training.
My boss always says "don't present a problem unless you have some ideas for solutions" (and that's ok, but it did cause me to stop brining problems to him as it was too much work coming up with all of those solutions - and I was always the one who had to put them into place)

I don't fly much - last time was about 4 years ago so it's easy for me to judge from a chair here - is this actually a major problem that is not worthwhile even if it keeps bad people out?