Saturday, December 02, 2006

No Traveler Left Behind: A Guide to Passing the ATS Exam

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As an American who has traveled abroad 5 times in the last 26 months, this recently revealed program got my attention.
Without their knowledge, millions of Americans and foreigners crossing U.S. borders in the past four years have been assigned scores generated by U.S. government computers rating the risk that the travelers are terrorists or criminals.
Virtually every person entering and leaving the United States by air, sea or land is scored by the Homeland Security Department's Automated Targeting System, or ATS. The scores are 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.
I’m not sure how I scored during my recent trips, but using careful investigative techniques and some common sense, I’ve been able to put together the following list of tips that might help improve your ATS score:

Where You are From: Good: Provo, Colorado Springs, anywhere in Texas; Bad: San Francisco, New York, Boston.

How You Paid for Tickets: Good: American Express Corporate Card, Gift of Jack Abramoff, Sale of stock options; Bad: Rolled up wad of dinar, barrels of oil, gay sex (not applicable if you are from Colorado Springs.)

Motor Vehicle Records: Good: Hummer H2, Ford Escalade with gun rack, 69 Chevy Impala with Jeff Gordon decal; Bad: Volvo Bio-Diesel, No registered auto (just a bicycle.)

One Way Travel: Good: Never left U.S. without returning immediately after 7-14 day luxury cruise; Bad: Multiple “one way” flights out of the country while returning, presumably, via open-water swim.

Seating Preference: Good: Two adjoining - to fit extra large derriere; Bad: In cockpit, next to pilot.

Meal Ordered: Good: McDonalds’ Big Mac and "Freedom" Fries (supersized), 40 oz. Steak (extra rare), Gefilte Fish (farmed with dolphins); Bad: Vegetarian, Puppy steak, Chicken with extra bones, preferably sharpened.

Happy Traveling and good luck with your scores!

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