Saturday, June 18, 2011

Security theater: Coming to a train near you?

To follow up on Kevin's comment to an earlier post, of course the TSA (or some copycat security theater agency) is coming to the trains and roads if we don't stop them now, at the airports. Amtrak is claiming to hold out for now, but, as Amtrak is essentially a government entity, holding out won't last for long.

Friday, June 17, 2011

'The face of terrorism': 15-year-old girls and 75-year-old men

Here is the point of view of a 15-year-old girl going through "security" at Midway. This letter does not seem like it was written by any 15-year-olds that I know, but the sentiment is, of course, undeniable.

This other editorial, however, is totally believable. Isn't it great how the elders in our country, with disabilities and old-fashioned senses of style, are treated by the TSA?

H/T Boycott Flying

Thursday, June 16, 2011

NY Times covers TX anti-groping bill

Fantastic interview with Texas Rep David Simpson in the NY Times! The finale:
Q. Any upcoming travel plans?

A. “I haven’t been on a commercial airliner since all this started, and I’m a little worried about what’s going to happen to me.” (He laughs.) “But I am going on vacation this summer to see my daughter in Montana. I’m driving. It’s a long way. But I won’t have to be groped or ogled by anyone but my wife.” (He laughs again).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ruining a honeymoon

This is what the TSA does best. The couple got their boarding pass at 5am for a 6:30am flight, after which they would connect to their cruise. Surprisingly, the TSA denies wrongdoing, all procedures were followed and - oh yeah - the passengers are lying.

Here's the thing: even if the couple is lying and, for some reason, decided to wait an hour after getting to the airport to get into the security line, there is still no reason that we - as free citizens - can't get onto an airplane more quickly. Remember way back before the fall of 2001 when you could arrive at the airport less than an hour before your plane departed and still get on with time to spare? It was only after the TSA was created that the new guidelines of "two hours before departure" were instituted. The TSA's sole purpose is to make our lives more inconvenient and miserable, just so we know who's in charge.

No 'private' security at Montana airports

Of course, the "opt-out" for airports doesn't lead to actual private security, but, rather, promotes corporatism. The "private" security at airports all have to follow TSA directives, so it's just a wealth transfer from the taxpayer to private security companies instead of a wealth transfer from the taxpayer to TSA employees.

However, Pistole has not shown interest in allowing more "opt-outs" and just turned down three different applications in Montana. Although "privitization" will not protect our rights any more, this is revealing in giving more evidence that the TSA is a rogue agency: Congress' legislation creating the TSA also created the "opt-out" option, and Pistole has unilaterally and effectively nullified that provision.

Blue uniform = hubris and power

That's what these TSA agents must think:

H/T Mark Fee

A TSA lawsuit precedent

I missed this one, but in January, a woman settled a suit with the TSA over inappropriate touching. Most are decrying the paltry sum - which was recently revealed due to a FOIA request by The Smoking Gun, but one lawyer thinks this sets a good precedent. He concludes:
Rather than trying - as Texas, Utah, and other states are now doing - to pass legislation which may be ineffective or even counterproductive, the states might also consider what they could do to facilitate tort actions against the TSA. These steps might include setting up surveillance cameras in airports to provide evidence for such legal actions, legal opinions by state attorneys general helping to validate the law suits, the preparation of "Sue-The-TSA" kits with instructions and legal documents which could be used in the law suits, and even grants to law schools to set up clinics to help citizens file actions where warranted, suggests Banzhaf.
I don't like that the government (aka, the taxpayer) is paying out for these suits, but there is a good argument here that enough of these suits could effect changes in airport security policy overall.

H/T Bill Fisher

Democracy NOW! interview

Susie Castillo, Ralph Nader, and an EPIC representative were interviewed by Democracy NOW! about TSA invasion of our rights.

Why you should avoid LAX

They have 22 naked scanners:
Full-body scanners were deployed late last year after it was revealed that contraband items were slipping past Transportation Security Administration screeners. LAX has 22 of the big machines, each monitored by a worker in a separate room so the revealing images remain out of view.

Logan shut-down yesterday

Another over-reaction by our insane police state.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A short history of airport security

Over at the LA Times. Choice pairing of sentences:
The TSA, whose budget has grown from $4.7 billion in 2002 to $7.7 billion today, is also concerned.

"We want to focus our limited resources on higher-risk passengers while speeding and enhancing the passenger experience at the airport," TSA Administrator John S. Pistole said...
The "checkpoint of the future" is given a bump here, so it's a good time to remind you of how terrible it is.

Disney's response

In order to get to and from Disney theme parks, many families must have their children go through naked scanners and/or get groped. Instead of standing up for their customers, Disney has apparently decided to enshrine the TSA and scanner in a new ride:
Star Tours was one of those rides that was an instant classic. It had Star Wars, cutting edge technology, a great queue line and Paul Ruebens (Pee Wee Herman). It admittedly, was a little predictable but it was still amazing. Then the Star Wars Prequels happened. all of a sudden it wasn’t so cutting edge and amazing. Finally after a long time in development Star Tours 2: the Adventure Continues has opened.
The other major change is in the queue line. Before you walked through a type of factory where droids were being put together and taken apart. Shadow projections were everywhere and you were able to see a lot of your favorite characters from the films. now the whole area is themed to a sort of Spaceport, complete with Jedi’s walking by windows, luggage sorting and a TSA full body scanner with a Droid that barks rules at you.
The queue line was still a Star Wars queue line. Filled with bright vibrant colors, R2D2 and C-3Po. the bickering old droid couple was there, and brighter than they had ever been. the TSA droid was funny, giving a lot of interaction with the line.
Way to go, Disney.

Celebrity opt-out

Richard Simmons opted out, but entertained his captors.

Ain't the scan-n-group fun?

A sarcastic article from someone who is apparently knee-deep in federal propaganda, but can still see through the muck.

Modesty on Technorati

This article wraps up Weiner-gate, TSA policies, and social ills all in one. I'm posting it here because I suspect that this writer is not alone in her thinking, and it is important to recognize that the TSA policies are imposing values on a larger percentage of the population who hold modesty in high regard. It is this type of attachment to a core value that will save us from complete submission to rogue federal agencies.

A plan of action

Here's an excellent speech from Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center:

Question…if the federal government passed a law, in direct violation of the first amendment, that required you to participate in a particular religious service every Friday night, would you sit quietly and obey? Or, would you refuse to submit?

And, if the state of California passed a law not only denouncing such unconstitutional acts, but making their enforcement a crime, would you cheer them on for protecting the people there from religious tyranny, or would you say that California was violating federal supremacy?

I’d say we’re pretty much all in agreement here that the TSA is out of control. Some of us (yours truly included) would argue that the TSA shouldn’t even exist at all. But the real Question we face is this – What do we do about it?

–Should we call on the TSA and demand that this federal agency limit its own power?

–Or, should we march on DC and demand that the federal politicians limit the power of a federal agency that THEY voted for, and that they fund to the tune of 8 billion dollars?
The entire speech is worth reading. I agree that his proposal has a good chance at being effective, and support the states' rights-based protest (and regularly blog about it's progress here). However, I think there is nothing wrong with having a multi-pronged approach. I think depending on the feds (be it Congress or the courts) is the least-effective (as pointed out by Boldin). But, I do think that not flying is a good approach. Boldin disagrees:

Another day, another thief

A "lead TSO" was stealing money from tourists at Honolulu's airport. (And, also, security was really bad there anyway, but it's supposedly fixed now .)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Since when did libertarians stop fighting for civil liberties?

I got this link off of Facebook (thanks, Boycott Flying!).
  • First, I didn't know the Reason Foundation - a libertarian think-tank run by the Koch brothers - had a regular newsletter on airline policy and security. At first, I thought, "I ought to be reading this on a regular basis."
  • Second, reading this newsletter on a regular basis would be a waste of time. This is not at all libertarian. It is standard right-of-middle statism. The author buys into the need for the feds to run security. He also buys into the idea that "CrewPass," "Trusted Traveler," and similar schemes are a good idea and too long coming. These things are horrible invasions of privacy and rightly opposed by the ACLU. Reason should be ashamed for putting this trash out under their name.

Two great articles

Lew Rockwell published an article Thursday by Butler Shaffer that begins:

Why TSA, Wars, State Defined Diets, Seat-Belt Laws, the War On Drugs, Police Brutality, and Efforts to Control the Internet, Are Essential to the State: The title of this article encompasses topics that arouse attention and criticism among persons of libertarian persuasion. The discussion of such matters usually treats each issue as though it were sui generis, independent of one another. Most of us respond as though the woman who is groped at the airport has no connection with the man who is tasered by a police officer; that the person serving time in prison for selling marijuana is unrelated to the men being held at Guantanamo. The belief that one person’s maltreatment is isolated from the rest of us, is essential to the maintenance of state power.

And Becky Akers commented on the abuse of the British cruise passengers in LA on Saturday. She concludes:
Calculated, casual cruelty that would have been unthinkable a decade ago – a time by no means kind or genteel – is now Standard Operating Procedure. Meanwhile, too many Americans look the other way. Jaw-dropping barbarities have become so common that most witnesses shrug -- if they even notice. And some horrifically benighted ones actually cheer the ferocity. "They had it coming," they smugly opine. "Don’t they know you can’t do [whatever innocent activity earned government’s ire] nowadays? What, they think they’re special and don’t have to go by the rules?"

The Nazis made certain ethnicities and conditions illegal – and punishable. So have the Warriors. But those of us watching should heed the command of Prof. Yehuda Bauer: "Thou shall not be a perpetrator; thou shall not be a victim; and thou shall never, but never, be a bystander."

'You're beating the crap out of my 4th Amendment'

That's Cindy Sheehan's quip to TSA agents. She has an article up about the police state, and notes that the quiet submission at airports is part and parcel.

Another victim of "poor judgement"

The experience of this man is extraordinarily sad. This type of thing will continue to happen as long as the feds are in charge of airport security. Common sense and good judgement are not attributes that are encouraged in this type of bureaucracy. Rather, bullying and a "just following orders" mentality are promoted. More training will not improve how agents - on average - treat disabled people.

Dr. David Mandy: Special Needs Son Harassed by TSA at Detroit Metropolitan Airport:

Since this happened on the way to Disney World, now is a good time to remember the letters that another father wrote to the company.