Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Government Searching Random Citizens

Some of us are so old that we can remember the Cold War. As wee little tykes we heard frightening stories about life in Communist countries. The secret police would come in the night, we were told, and take people from their houses, lock them up, and nobody would ever hear from them again -- never even charge them with a crime. People had to show their identity cards on the street, or they would be whisked away. People in Communist countries were encouraged to tell the police whenever their neighbors did anything suspicious. These were scary stories that made us really glad to be living in a place with freedom.

So forgive me a chill when I read stuff like this, from the LA Times (jumping in after a few paragraphs of fluff):
The Transportation Security Administration isn't just in airports anymore. TSA teams are increasingly conducting searches and screenings at train stations, subways, ferry terminals and other mass transit locations around the country.

"We are not the Airport Security Administration," said Ray Dineen, the air marshal in charge of the TSA office in Charlotte. "We take that transportation part seriously."

The TSA's 25 "viper" teams — for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response — have run more than 9,300 unannounced checkpoints and other search operations in the last year. Department of Homeland Security officials have asked Congress for funding to add 12 more teams next year. TSA screenings aren't just for airports anymore

They are haunting train stations, docks, bus stations, with their dogs and their sensors, stopping people absolutely at random to see if they are carrying explosives.

I like the way this professor put it.
"It's a great way to make the public think you are doing something," said Fred H. Cate, a professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, who writes on privacy and security. "It's a little like saying, 'If we start throwing things up in the air, will they hit terrorists?'"

Hey, that's not a bad idea, the TSA could just walk around throwing things up into the air. Maybe they'll hit a terrorist, wouldn't that be great? They're just about everywhere, you know, the next little old lady on the street might be a terrorist.
TSA officials say they have no proof that the roving viper teams have foiled any terrorist plots or thwarted any major threat to public safety. But they argue that the random nature of the searches and the presence of armed officers serve as a deterrent and bolster public confidence.

"We have to keep them [terrorists] on edge," said Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington. "We're not going to have a permanent presence everywhere."

Oh yeah, I can hear terrorists' teeth chattering as I walk past their shuttered windows -- they are on edge, all right. TSA agents scanning people when they get on a bus or go to a football game is really going to put those terrorists out of business.

Why do people put up with this?
The agency came under fresh fire this month when three elderly women with medical devices complained that TSA agents had strip-searched them in separate incidents at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Lenore Zimmerman, 84, said she was ordered to pull down her pants after she refused to pass through a full body scanner because she was afraid the machine would interfere with her heart defibrillator.

TSA officials denied the women were strip-searched, but they announced plans to create a toll-free telephone number for passengers with medical conditions who require assistance in airport screening lines. TSA officials said they also are considering a proposal by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to designate a passengers advocate at every airport.

Great story, the TSA made 84-year-old Lenore Zimmerman pull down her pants in the airport and then called her a liar. I feel safer already.

Sometimes you just watch and wonder, how much are the American people going to put up with? It appears that there is no limit to it, we shrug and accept this kind of intrusion as if we deserved it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, this all seems like overkill but I'm not that concerned yet

a little more creepy is the drone network built by Obama where he has satellites watching everyone in the world and can kill anyone within minutes with a push of a button

I know it seems to be working in our favor now but these things always start out that way

December 28, 2011 8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's sad to see the pioneers of the gay movement passing away:

"PALM HARBOR, Fla. — A Florida animal sanctuary says Cheetah the chimpanzee sidekick in the Tarzan movies of the early 1930s has died at age 80.

The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor announced that Cheetah died Dec. 24 of kidney failure.

Sanctuary outreach director Debbie Cobb on Wednesday told The Tampa Tribune that Cheetah was outgoing, loved finger painting and liked to see people laugh. Cobb says Cheetah wasn't a troublemaker. Still, sanctuary volunteer Ron Priest says that when the chimp didn't like what was going on, he would throw feces."

December 28, 2011 10:22 AM  
Anonymous And that ain't all said...

Those of us old enough to remember it know what Jim said is correct. Communists do not revere freedom like we do, and that's why people who live in Communist countries "had to show their identity cards on the street, or they would be whisked away. "

So why is it now that red states with conservative GOP governors and legislatures want to act like theirs is a Communist state, requiring identity cards to prove citizenship or risk being whisked away?

"Arizona's anti-immigration bill SB1070 has been criticized by civil rights advocates as promoting racial profiling and unreasonable searches and seizures. As soon as the bill was passed in Arizona (GOP Governor, GOP majority in State Senate and State House), the Justice Department moved for an injunction, or a block, reasoning that the bill was unconstitutional.

The injection was granted in Phoenix Federal Court, and the governor of Arizona appealed on behalf of the state, which took the case to the Circuit Court of Appeals. After the injunction was upheld this week, the governor said she plans to appeal the decision again."

"Despite repeated warnings from business groups, tourism and industry boards and advocates about the hefty price tag attached to Arizona-style legislation, state lawmakers continued to push “get tough” copycat proposals. Many ultimately rejected SB1070-style legislation (26, to date) due to high costs and political backlash, while others severely watered down, altered or put on hold legislation targeting undocumented immigrants. But states that did pass anti-immigrant legislation, like Georgia (GOP Governor, GOP majority in State Senate and State House) and Indiana (GOP Governor, GOP majority in State Senate and State House), now face costly, uphill legal battles....

Arizona has spent upwards of $1.9 million in legal fees defending their law, not to mention revenue lost in cancelled conferences—roughly $141 million."

While their GOP governors and majority GOP-legislatures expend time and money writing and defending laws like those in Communist countries, the unemployment rates in Georgia and South Carolina are higher than the national unemployment rate.

Americans want JOBS not laws forcing us all to carry identification papers or risk being whisked away.

December 28, 2011 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is TSA headed toward Shutting Down Americans'
Right To Travel Freely in their own Country?

The U.S. can’t become a Police State until the 4th Amendment is either eliminated or so watered down it has no legal effect.

TSA recently refused to provide comprehensive information regarding test results concerning TSA backscatter and other x-ray scanners at airports that might determine if (frequent flyers) could be physically harmed, sustain organ damage from repeated X-Ray scans.

TSA is now moving forward to establish thousands of Check Points at surface transportation locations. One can’t help recall at similar Check Points the Nazi Military and Police constantly harassed, searched and delayed German travelers, especially persons deemed politically undesirable at roadway checkpoints, when boarding trains and at bus stops. Some Germans were stopped and delayed daily, many lost their jobs because they were late or missed work. Germans without probable cause were put on (Nazi do not hire lists) similar to the lists started in 2010 by U.S. Homeland Security. One must wonder if today’s outspoken Americans that defend the Constitution, e.g., writers and Bloggers might later be deemed “Belligerents” by U.S. Government and constantly stopped, searched, questioned at checkpoints without cause or warrants; forced to endure X-ray scans damaging their health and or Indefinitely Detained. It is foreseeable Americans could be intimidated from traveling by TSA.

Currently one can only guess how much radiation is covertly being transmitted by U.S. Government and police into the bodies of “Persons of Interests” repeatedly scanned” without warrants, x-rayed on the street, in their vehicles, inside their homes. The Obama government ordered 500 back-scatter X-ray vans that U.S. Government and local Police will without public oversight or warrants to scan private homes—vehicles, Citizens walking, riding a bicycle, standing someplace. Corrupt government and police can too easily over X-RAY Citizens they deem undesirable.

December 29, 2011 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed speculation Wednesday that President Barack Obama would issue a signing statement when he makes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its controversial detention provisions law.

“We made really substantial progress in moving from something that was really unacceptable to the administration to something with which we still have problems,” Holder said in response to a question from the Wall Street Journal’s Evan Perez. “But I think through these procedures, with these regulations we will be crafting, we can minimize the problems that will actually affect us in an operational way.”

Holder said the language of the NDAA had been moved in a “substantial way” from some of the original language which led the president to issue a veto threat.

“So we are in a better place, I think the regulations, procedures that will help, and we’ll also have a signing statement from the president” which will help clarify how they view the law, Holder said."

December 29, 2011 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

face it- after campaigning against Bush administration policies as if they were part of a vast right-wing conspiracy, Obama has concluded that those policy were indeed necessary

maybe 1984 will get here a few decades late

there is always a tension in any cilvilized society between safety and freedom

personally, I prefer to risk freedom

but there is with this issue, as with so many of our tension issues, a penduluum effect

the legitimate concern is that at some point technology will become so efficient that there won't be anyway to go back

it's a discussion we need to keep having but inflammatory hype such as Obama's in 2008 and the "Nazi" comparisons above aren't really helpful

fortunately, Obama's victory helped to gain perspective

his followers should pay attention

December 29, 2011 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Jim.
Though I also agree that the TSA policies are crazy (screening grandmas).... I think what I would do to prevent terrorism is a little different that what you might believe is okay.

To go back to your original post, I noticed you were complaining about what IS being done without offering alternatives to try and catch terrorists before they strike.

While I am in complete agreement that what they are doing now is stupid, what WOULD you suggest they do ?

I would suggest they start monitoring all electronic and cellular communication with super computers, and narrow in on repeated suspicious posts. I would ALSO suggest they actively profile, and use profiling at airports.

If you don't approve of random searches, what would you suggest ... as opposed to waiting for someone to blow us up (not ideal).....


December 30, 2011 12:38 AM  

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