While Clutching Our Government Issued Security Blankets

“Keep us safe”  was the cry.

“What ever it takes” was the demand.

And we all stood in line, passive and trusting, without our shoes, as we followed the 3-1-1 rule with our liquids, had our sharp objects confiscated, while filling grey bins with our precious possessions.

It didn’t matter that our forefathers braved a new world for our freedom, fought their brothers for our liberty, and endured the hardships of forging a new nation, all, so we had the right to expect and demand what is reasonable and appropriate under the law.

"...what makes the search appropriate is the record of the people involved, not the abstract possibility of violence. A savage act is always possible. If that is all it took to justify gross infringements of liberty, such infringements would always and everywhere be justified. An intrusive search is reasonable, or not, based on what the people involved have done to prompt it, not simply because life is fraught with peril. --Andrew C. McCarthy

Nor did it matter that what we feared most was only a one in 25 million chance (over the last ten years, including 9/11) of dying from a terrorist attack aboard an American commercial airliner.  Taking off our shoes and limiting our liquids seemed a small price to pay to be safe.

“Don’t worry.” said our government.

Even though the right of the American people to be “presumed innocent, until proven guilty” was now becoming “presumed guilty, until proven innocent.”  Or that putting guard rails on our beds (we have a 1 in 2 million chance of dying from falling out of bed) or wearing water-wings when taking a bath (our odds of drowning in the tub is 1 in 685,000) would probably make us safer.

With fear and gratitude, we clutched tight our government issued security blankets as we closed our eyes and dreamed our dreams.

“Keep us safe”  was the cry.

“What ever it takes” was the demand.

And we all stood in line, passive and trusting, without our shoes, as we followed the 3-1-1 rule with our liquids, had our sharp objects confiscated, raised our arms to be ogled and irradiated, and spread our legs to be groped, while trying to keep watch over the grey bins that held our precious possessions.

It didn’t matter that passengers were mentally anguish by the process and suffer from intimidation and theft by screeners.  Or that with a false alarm rate of up to 80% the list of items that falsely set off security alarms was growing.

Aluminum foil wrappers (from gum and candy), retractable keys (knife looking), headbands (with metal wire), small alcohol bottles (liquid), snow globes (liquid), inhalers (liquid), underwire bras (metal), jars of peanut butter or Honey. (not solid, liquid, or powder, so -- naturally suspect).

“Don’t worry.” said our government.

Even though with an annual budget of $6 billion, TSA screeners detected less than 30% of the knives, guns and bomb parts during security tests; screener effectiveness suffered from low pay, poor training, and monotony; or that successful screenings were counted (and screener incentives and bonuses given) based on contraband captured and not actual terrorists thwarted.

Still, we thankfully clutched our government issued security blankets as we close our eyes and dreamed our dreams.
“Keep us safe”  was the cry.

“What ever it takes” was the demand.

And we followed orders, passive and trusting, as we were herded into line, told to remove our shoes, had our sharp objects and liquid containers confiscated, while we raised our arms to be irradiated, lifted our clothes and removed our prosthesis to be ogled, and spread our legs to be groped, held out our hands to be wiped, while trying to keep watch over our precious possessions.

It didn’t matter that our person and personal possessions were now being searched in an effort to flush out ”immigration violations” and “drug monies” as well as terrorists. Or that the searches were no longer limited to air travel.  We all need to be safe while riding the bus, taking the train, attending sporting event or even walking our streets, don’t we?

Newly uncovered documents show that as early as 2006, the Department of Homeland Security has been planning pilot programs to deploy mobile scanning units that can be set up at public events and in train stations, along with mobile x-ray vans capable of scanning pedestrians on city streets. [snip]

One project allocated to Northeastern University and Siemens would mount backscatter x-ray scanners and video cameras on roving vans, along with other cameras on buildings and utility poles, to monitor groups of pedestrians, assess what they carried, and even track their eye movements....

Nor did it matter to a TSA VIPR (visible intermodal protection and response) team if we were simply getting off a train, not getting on (update at end).

When we got off in Savannah, there were TSA agents out on the platform that told us to go inside to get our (checked) luggage. So we were part of about 20 people that wandered inside. As soon as we went inside the door, there were about 14 TSA agents waiting and they ushered us into a roped off holding area. They stated we were all being searched, as well as our luggage. We told them we just got OFF the train. They said they didn't care, that if we entered the building, we were subject to search. We told them we didn't want to enter the building, that THEY told us to. (BTW our luggage was never inside - it was waiting for us on the train platform).

“Don’t worry.” said our government.

Even though it is a massive invasion of privacy and the equipment being used could seriously jeopardize passenger health.

...the mechanical beam’s intensity level has not been published, making it impossible to evaluate the safety claims. “I want a real hard number in terms of photons per some unit of area,” he said. “The one physical quantity that is crucial for determining what dose a person is getting, that data is missing.”

Moreover, standard medical X-ray machines disperse radiation throughout the body, whereas the airport scanners penetrate to about skin level. That means there is a high concentration of radiation on a single organ — the skin — which was not accounted for in the Johns Hopkins report, Sedat said. [John Sedat, a biochemistry and biophysics professor]...

“Your probability of getting blown up by a terrorist is probably lower than getting cancer from these,” [Arizona State University physicist Peter] Rez said.

And we dutifully clutched our government issued security blankets as we close our eyes and dreamed our dreams.

“Keep us safe”  was the cry.

“What ever it takes” was the demand.

And we followed orders, passive and trusting, as we were are told to “see something, say something” while being herded into lines, told to remove our shoes, had our sharp objects and liquid containers confiscated, even as we raised our arms to be irradiated, lifted our clothes and removed our prosthesis to be ogled, spread our legs to be groped, held our hands out to be wiped, and opened our mouth to be swabbed, while trying to keep watch over our precious possessions.

This summer the U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to begin testing a portable DNA scanner...The device, which has not yet been unveiled but reportedly resembles a desktop printer, is expected to make genetic tests far more common, particularly in matters related to refugees, human trafficking and immigration.  As the technology is commercialized, some experts believe it will soon make its way into everyday medical and law enforcement situations.

With nothing more than a swab of saliva, security officials can use the device to obtain genetic intel in less than an hour...

“Don’t worry.” said our government…

Even though TSA is now conducting random searches anywhere within the airport and has plans to move the searches outside the airport facilities:

The TSA has also indicated that it wants to move the perimeter of aviation security screening beyond the airport, to checkpoints on the road, according to Chris Calabrese, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. If these roving searches are tolerated within the terminal and are allowed to jump to the street, there's no telling what might come next. It isn't inconceivable that in the near future, the TSA could set up roadblocks to randomly screen automobiles anywhere it pleases.

So I’m just wondering… are those government issued security blankets starting to feel a little thin yet?

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to
and you have found out the exact measure of injustice
and wrong which will be imposed upon them,
and these will continue till they are resisted
with either words or blows, or with both.”
–- Frederick Douglas

UPDATE:

Regarding the TSA VIPR (visible intermodal protection and response) team that took over the Amtrak station in Savannah, Ga. in late February, and thoroughly searched every person who entered. From Trains (via Drudge):

Amtrak Police Chief John O’Connor said he first thought a blog posting about the incident was a joke. When he discovered that the TSA’s VIPR team did at least some of what the blog said, he was livid. He ordered the VIPR teams off Amtrak property, at least until a firm agreement can be drawn up to prevent the TSA from taking actions that the chief said were illegal and clearly contrary to Amtrak policy.

A posting in late February to the Transportation Security Administration’s blog, which serves as a public relations tool of the TSA, tried to explain why TSA agents took over the Amtrak station in Savannah. But O’Connor said the “facts” as posted on the TSA blog were incorrect. He said the blog indicated that Amtrak had approved of the operation, but it had not. He called the TSA’s posting on blog.tsa.gov“inaccurate and insensitive.” As of the time this story was filed, the same posting remained on the blog.

###

3 Comments

  1. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are our unalienable rights. Molest, assault, and call it the pursuit of terrorists. What country do we live in?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s