Saturday, July 9, 2011

A new general aviation start-up

This startup will charge a subscription fee instead of a per-ticket fee, thereby allowing lower budget travelers access to general aviation carriers. Initially, service will be limited to select mid-Atlantic cities.

(Oh - and please ignore the islamaphobia in the opening paragraph of the linked Examiner article. After all, when a foreign carrier partners with an American one, that foreign carrier will have to impose our draconian anti-civil liberties laws on foreigners! If only American carriers were forced to live under judeo-christian law instead of the state-religion law. We might actually have our rights respected!)

Scanning people and cargo

The US Army in Afghanistan is following the TSA's and US Customs' leads. They're installing naked scanners as well as vehicle scanners at bases there, with over $200 million of purchases to be made over the next three years (wait... I thought we were "leaving" Afghanistan in three years!).

The article is odd in concluding that Afghanis will care about this - they will be set up on bases to screen people and cargo coming in. Presumably, most Afghanis avoid US bases like the plague and will be unaffected. Rather, the Army will be screening the people that it brings onto the base - perhaps prisoners, contractors, vendors, and military personnel. But, I'm reporting this here because the article notes that US Customs already uses the vehicle scanners, which use high-powered radiation to see through trucks and into their contents. There have already been roadblocks well within US borders using these machines. In addition to the serious danger these pose if a person is scanned*, the idea that we have freedom of movement in this country is already a joke.

* No one is claiming that the radiation from these vehicle scanners is safe. A scientific paper on this subject showed that in Europe the scanners detected people being smuggled in a truck using these machines (I'll see if I can find a link). In addition to drugs, US Customs is also interested in people being smuggled into the country, and part of the propaganda is the terrible conditions that these poor illegal immigrants suffer in transit. So what do we do? We irradiate them!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Latest from Jennifer Abel

Our heroic journalist for the UK's Guardian had another great anti-TSA article last week. Read it here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A push to nullify pat-downs in Florida?

The Tenth Amendment Center is taking advantage of the rage over the removal of a 95-year-old woman's diaper in a Florida airport last week by starting a push to enact anti-groping legislation in Florida. I wish them luck!

Update on the scanner-related heckling case

The Smoking Gun reports:
The Transportation Security Administration employee charged with assaulting a coworker who taunted him about the size of his penis after his genitalia was exposed by a full-body scanner has agreed to attend anger management classes and write a letter of apology as part of a settlement of his criminal case, records show.

TSA screener Rolando Negrin, 46, will also perform 50 hours of community service and make a $100 charitable donation, according to terms of a pre-trial diversion program that, if successfully completed, will result in dismissal of the felony battery case lodged against Negrin in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A surprising piece at HuffPo

I do think opinion is coming around and - slowly - more Americans are waking up. Here's the closing paragraph of this HuffPo editorial:
In the meantime, our collective surrender to fear is robbing of us of something ineffable and precious. For what it's worth, I'm old enough to remember the lyric from the old Buffalo Springfield song: You step out of line, the man come, and take you away. In a small way, it's become true.

Undressing for the pat-down

This blogger tells her story of having to take off her sweater at security, exposing herself in her skin-tight clothes (which were intentionally being covered with the sweater) and then getting a thorough pat-down (despite the obvious difficulty she would have hiding anything under her aforementioned skin-tight clothes).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

'Multi-layered' security

In reality, this term is a way to cover the butts of incompetent and/or over-reaching agents. This testamonial from the Vancouver Sun is a case in point:
I opted out, and no one patted me down. Why? Probably because they were too busy patting down every second or third passenger who walked through the body scanners. Leave a pen, handkerchief or wallet in your pocket, and you get a body scan and a pat-down.

Anthony Gregory on the TSA

I don't know where this was originally published, but PressTV picked it up (citing, but I don't see it there). Anyway, Anthony is one of my favorite writers, and his article on the TSA is excellent, as usual.

Security theater defined

This is when millions of law-abiding travelers with legitimate boarding passes and proper identification cards are harassed and treated like criminals - but at least the TSA is "doing something" - while another otherwise law-abiding traveler gets through security twice with a fake boarding pass and a student ID. How was he caught: amazingly the airlines actually care if the people on their planes purchased their ticket, and both flights noticed the error (but only one in time to prevent him from boarding).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fear and Intimidation Exercise

Check out this press report from mid-June about a 5,000 square-mile TSA-led "security exercise":
The participating teams are composed of a variety of TSA assets including federal air marshals, canine teams, inspectors and bomb appraisal officers. They will be joined by state and local law enforcement officials to supplement existing resources, provide detection and response capabilities. The exercise will utilize multiple airborne assets, including Blackhawk helicopters and fixed wing aircraft as well as waterborne and surface teams.

A brave doctor; and some international info

The UK's Daily Mail reports on a doctor who was refused boarding when he refused to be scanned for health reasons. Apparently,
It is mandatory for passengers to go through the full body scanners at Manchester, Gatwick and Heathrow airports, and staff there have been told that anyone who refuses should not be allowed to board.
And, there is also this information about Italy:
The Italian government had planned to install full body scanners at all airports and train stations but removed them from airports, calling them ‘slow and ineffective’.

Neocon solutions

Jonah Goldberg had an op-ed last week on the TSA. As with all commentary from the right on this matter (now that a Democrat is in the White House), it started off sound, building off the outrage over the grandmother-diaper incident. But - again, consistent with commentary from the right these days - it devolved into silly nonsense about how if only the TSA would institute the correct policies, none of this would happen.

Never overestimate what level government bureaucrats (or their gangs of hired thugs) can sink to. If the neocons had their way, we would still see old women and young children being abused, but they wouldn't be white.

The point here is that everyone - American or not, white or not - has an inalienable right to be secure in their persons and possessions. This right can only be breached in the American system through due process - meaning that a government agent has to get a judge to sign a warrant for the search after being presented with evidence of probably cause for suspicion of a specific crime.

Today is our Independence Day, and it would do us well to remember that one of the grievances listed in the VA Declaration of Rights (a model document for Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence) was:
That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive and ought not to be granted.
And, furthermore,
On the night before the Declaration of Independence was published, JOHN ADAMS cited the "argument concerning the Writs of Assistance … as the commencement of the controversy between Great Britain and America."
Clearly our American (and English law) heritage holds the TSA in contempt. Perhaps, one day, both the mainstream left and right will realize this.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why don't TSA agents wear dosimeters?

And not just when operating the new body scanners, but also the carry on and checked luggage scanners? Some agents are starting to wake up. EPIC has found out that Boston workers who expressed concerns were ignored and were denied a request to wear dosimeters.

In the same FOIA request, EPIC also confirmed that the TSA's statements regarding the safety testing by experts at NIST and Hopkins were untrue. (Shocking, I know.) Here's one concise report:

But in an email obtained by EPIC, a NIST official stated that the agency had not tested the scanners for safety and does not in fact do product testing. Rather NIST had merely measured the radiation dose from a single machine against the standard of what is considered acceptable. It had not done the rigorous product testing required to determine safety over time.

Although TSA union reps at Boston's Logan Airport asked that the agency allow its screeners to wear radiation-monitoring devices, the TSA has yet to provide the dosimeters, EPIC said. Meanwhile, another document obtained by EPIC shows that NIST recommends that TSA screeners avoid standing next to the scanners whenever possible, and a Johns Hopkins University study finds that radiation zones around body scanners could potentially exceed the "General Public Dose Limit."

Relying on the states

Becky Akers tells it like it is, as usual.

Coverage of the Trusted Traveler Program

Some neutral and some negative. Here's my opinion.

By the way - I want to reiterate something in Rand Paul's questioning of Pistole. He pointed out that the law is clear on whether flying is a privilege: it's not a privilege, despite Pistole's opinion on the matter.