The controversial, high-dollar effort to create a vast data-mining computer network that ranks air travelers based on the likelihood that they're terrorists has stalled, maybe for good.
The next-generation Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, or CAPPS II, is not dead, federal officials said. But the program's problems have caused officials to hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete, and they are largely starting anew.
"Homeland Security is redesigning the program, and certainly this new proposal is a significant undertaking -- and is still being developed," said Amy von Walter, spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department's Transportation Security Administration.
Federal officials were still scrambling Thursday to address a USA Today report that Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge had called CAPPS II "dead" while moving his hands as if he were driving a stake through his heart.
CAPPS II was supposed to be the high-tech crown jewel of the nation's domestic response after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. It was also envisioned as the key component of a strategy to screen passengers before they get to the airport.
The system was expected to feed each passenger's basic data -- name, address, telephone number and birth date -- into private and public databases to verify identity and generate a color-coded score. Greens would be OK. Yellows would need more screening. Reds would be the bad guys…