Saturday, August 27, 2011

Free advertising for the TSA

Is there really any other explanation for this article. It gives Oregonians the "news" that full-body scanners (pre-installed with cartoon-image software) are coming. It only quotes airport and TSA spokesmen, which, amazingly, claim:
... that polls show the general public is overwhelmingly supportive of TSA security precautions, including full-body scans.
The article then continues to read as a job advertisement. However, it is interesting to note that: 
TSA expects to hire 10 to 15 part-time workers over the coming months to add to its current staff of 70 part- and full-time employees at the Eugene Airport, Irwin said. The hiring drive is necessary because the new imaging technology requires larger staffs to run.
Although the author is not trying to show how inefficient with taxpayer money is, he continues by stating that, "The part-time positions come with federal full-time medical benefits..." I guess it's their way of bribing people to do a job that they feel ashamed of.

Sensible passengers in Elmira, NY

Here's what passengers are quoted as saying when asked about the cartoon-image software scanner coming to Elmira, NY (which already has scanners):

Reinhard Dieg, of Elmira, says, "Obviously we need something, but i don't think Elmira is that big of a hurry to get body scans. I don't think we have to worry about terrorists right away."

Sharon Michaels, of Elmira, says, "I'm more concerned with the handicap people and how they're trying to get through after watching another lady have to struggle in and out and have a lady lift her."
The first passenger realizes that this is security theater, and the second passenger realizes that the disabled are harassed by TSA as a matter of course (but erroneously thinks abridging their rights in a more sugar-coated way is better).

Power, humiliation, and fear

These are the things that the TSA and the national security (police) state thrive on. This testamonial by a passenger who recently encountered all three makes it clear. The crew is operating on fear - a terrorist around every corner - and a possibly a bit of a power trip. The passenger, Vance Gilbert, was then humiliated by being singled out for no good reason. No doubt the cops and TSA agents enjoyed their power trip, too. At least the police officer involved eventually showed some common sense and realized the book Mr. Gilbert was reading did not make him a terrorist. But, shouldn't there have been some common sense much earlier? Reading a book never makes one a terrorist. Period!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The future of security: less rights, of course

This MSNBC article gets interesting below the jump, where it postulates some possible future directions of airport security (theater):
  • In 5 years: "Criminal checks, fingerprinting and character references will be a standard process for all of us"
  • In 30 years: "passports laced with computer chips. Your official travel document 'will not only have information as to who you are and where you have traveled, but it will also ... allow government officials to track your travel not only in the air, but your daily travels to work, grocery stores and social events.'" 
Don't like it? Too bad; a security consultant claims, “All these measures seem extreme. However, after we declared a war on terror, we must be more proactive than reactive when it comes to airport security.”

Granted!? Really?

When will people start thinking for themselves? Here is what one reporter wrote in a local Ohio paper:
Granted, flying is a privilege, not a right, and security concerns can trump privacy. But the full-body scanners that are being used in 40 airports in the United States are an affront to personal privacy.
Why is this granted?

Flying is not a privilege. It is one of many ways that people can travel within states, between states, and between countries. Freedom of movement is a right that has been central to individual rights in the US since the Articles of Confederation. While the courts have ruled that the federal government has no jurisdiction to protect this right, there is also a clear consensus that the federal and state governments can not infringe on this right. Furthermore, US law specifically states that air travel is part of our freedom of movement.

Where exactly is the proof that security concerns can trump privacy? There have been court rulings that make exceptions for limited trumping of privacy (until the recent EPIC v DHS case, which is much more broad), but this isn't settled law and it is certainly contrary to an originalist reading of the founding documents. Again, not "granted," so why this claim?

The author continues with his or her amazing logic:
So airline passengers have to be happy that starting this week, the scanners are being replaced by machines that show a generic outline of a body instead of what amounts to a photo of an actual body.
Why must I be happy? The TSA is literally searching under my clothes. The fact that a computer converts the image does not escape the fact that I am being viewed naked by the federal government without my explicit consent or any reasonable alternative.

Good commentary on the future Police State of America

By "Ms. Smith".

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stick-up man: 'Getting shot is optional'

...all you have to do is hand over your wallet and you won't get shot. In the twisted logic of TSA bureaucrats, that makes getting shot 100% voluntary:
In 2011, we only use millimeter wave at that [northern Ohio airport] location, and it is no longer in the pilot phase... advanced imaging technology, including those using the ATR upgrade, is optional for all passengers.
Right. Because the alternative is an "enhanced pat-down."

Congressman stands up for passengers

Rep. Bennie Thompson is calling for a halt to the TSA's new SPOT program of interrogation. Although he focuses on efficacy and cost, at least the TSA is starting to lose power in Washington, if ever so slight. Read some of the Congressman's comments here. Ignore the end of the article where they praise the Israeli system, or at least read up on it here and here.

Meanwhile, an actual reporter addresses glaring problems with the Israeli system comparison and even does some investigative reporting:
The SPOT program has led to the arrest of 2,000 criminals, none of whom have been charged with terrorism.
I wonder how many of the 2,000 criminals were guilty of a victimless crime.(PS to the Weekly Herald editor: the cost of the software upgrade is $2.7 million, so, yes, a drop in the TSA budget bucket.)

Lightening up on (some) kids

There's a trial in Orlando where kids 12 and under (why's that the magical age, again?) will:
  1. not have to remove their shoes, and
  2. be allowed to walk through the metal detector again after it alarms instead of getting an automatic pat-down.
Are you wondering why these sensible policies are only for very small children and not for the rest of the innocent Americans flying every day? If you turn over security to a federal bureaucracy, then this is what you get: minor concessions after major transgressions.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What do you think of the TSA's self-congratulating remarks?

That's what FedSmith wants to know.

Howler from the TSA

In an interview printed by a newspaper, a TSA rep says:
Imaging technology has been widely accepted as an alternative to the pat-down.
And, then, a couple of sentences later:
Passengers who opt out of imaging technology screening will receive alternative screening, including a physical pat-down.
So... is the pat-down an alternative to the naked scanner, or is the scanner an alternative to groping?


Okay, I get that it is illegal to bring a gun onto a plane (although, I think this should be a decision made by airlines/airports, not the feds). But, people forget about contraband all the time when going to the airport. Usually, traveling means you have about 500 things on your mind. Is it really necessary to arrest an otherwise law-abiding citizen with a legal right to carry a gun for forgetting to take it out of his backpack. I mean, if he had remembered, it's really easy to check an unloaded firearm when you check in for your flight. And, does the TSA really think that someone would be stupid enough to put the gun in a bag and then put the bag on the x-ray belt?

Give the guy a warning, make him check his gun, and send him on his way! This guy is not a terrorist, so why does our government insist on treating him that way?

Airlines have more customers, less profit, more fees, and worse service

An article titled "Sept 11 changed everything" summarizes the state of the airline industry 10 years later. It does not mention that airlines were "too big to fail." They were bailed out - one after another - and then the responsibility for making air travel safe was federalized (it had largely been the province of local airports - which rent space to airlines - with some regulations in place by the FAA).

Sure, people were a little scared to fly for maybe 6 months or a year after 9/11. But prices started to creep back up about 2 years later and, now, airlines have more passengers than they have ever had. Yet they are still struggling to survive. Could it be not only has Congress continued to reward waste in the airline industry over the last 10 years, but Congress and the rogue TSA has made flying such an incredible pain that people really don't want to pay very much to waste a day and be harassed? As the article points out:

It's no wonder that for shorter trips, Americans now avoid flying. New inter-city buses have popped up and Amtrak now carries 37 percent more riders than a decade ago. Buses and trains don't have the security checkpoints that make it necessary for air passengers to arrive at the airport about an hour before domestic flights and two hours in advance for trips out of the U.S.
The days of arriving minutes before a flight are a distant memory, and lines are inconsistent. While one Transportation Security Administration checkpoint took four minutes to clear, another involved a 27-minute wait.
I have only crocodile tears for the airline industry at this point. They are intentionally ignoring the loss the TSA has caused for their bottom lines, but I am hopeful that they can't ignore this forever.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Scanners moving to smaller airports

The Central Illinois Regional Airport is "expected to be among the first facilities of its size to receive the screening equipment from the [TSA]." Expect to start seeing more scanners at smaller airports.

Maybe, maybe not, in Manchester, NH

The state’s largest airport may soon have full-body scanners installed, just in time for the upcoming holiday season, but a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would not confirm or deny their potential arrival yesterday.
Gosh, they just love keeping us in a perpetual state of uncertainty and fear! Contrast this with the cartoon-image software roll-out. Every airport and all local new agencies are clearly notified in advance of the upgrade. For each airport, I see a whole slate of articles parroting the TSA's propaganda on the carton-image scanner upgrades. But a new scanner - whether with cartoon-image software like will be going into NH or not - is always shrouded in secrecy. And the propaganda keeps coming:
“Advanced imaging technology is optional for all passengers,” said Horowitz. “Passengers who opt out of imaging technology screening will receive alternative screening, to include a physical pat down.”
But, you've gotta love New Hampshire's independent streak:
Some supporters of HB628 [anti-groping/scanning bill] are still refusing to fly altogether, if it means dealing with a body scanner.

“We are going to Houston in December as a family, and we’re driving,” said Rep. Andrew Mancuse, R-Derry, a co-sponsor of HB628. “I won’t subject my daughter to that.”

Cultural bias by the TSA

I buy it, do you? The NY Times writes:
TIMERY SHANTE NANCE is an African-American woman who has a thing about her hair. “I don’t use chemicals or straighteners,” she said. “It’s just my natural texture, and I wear it in a normal-looking puff.”
Ms. Nance was departing from the airport in San Antonio in late July. After she passed through the body scanner, she said, a female T.S.A. screener told her to stand facing her possessions. “You’re good to go, but first I have to pat your hair,” the officer told her, she said.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ron Paul for airport freedom

Homeland Security Theater cartoonist, Bill Forster, does a shout out to the Congressman (and Presidential hopeful) who is a consistent critic of TSA policies:

One way Ron Paul has tried to support passengers' rights is by proposing anti-groping and anti-scanning legislation at the federal level:
No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of an individual’s body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual’s parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.
Of course, not enough of the other crooks in Washington actually care about Americans enough to pass this law.

More smokescreen

The TSA is going to start an Aviation Security Advisory Committee, but there will not be any representatives of passenger freedom on the committee. Shocking.

Letter to the editor: 'a smokescreen to appease the public'

David Levin wrote:
To the Editor:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to solicit comments from the public about the use of full body scanners at airports.

The scanners have become a critical part of airport security. The order by the U.S. District Court is basically nothing more than a smokescreen to appease the public.

It won’t matter how many people object to the use of these machines that show an image of a person’s naked body. The full body scanners will continued to be used after all is said and done.

David M. Levin

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Journalists parrot TSA lies (again)

Speaking of the cartoon-image software upgrade, the Michael Scott of The Plain Dealer writes:
Which means they -- the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) --  can no longer see you naked.
 This is just not true. The TSA is still seeing passengers naked - their machines are literally peering through passengers' clothing. The only change here is that a TSA agent will not be viewing an image that looks like a naked body (according to the TSA) because software is being used to convert the image without human intervention. Blotches that represent things under your clothing will appear on a stick-figure outline in plain view.

Is it too much to ask for some brain-wave activity from the media when they get a press release from a government agency?

Radiation-less scanners

A new company is vying for government business. They have developed a scanner that just reads the energy that comes from your body naturally, eliminating the need for radiation. This is supposedly more private because details of your most private areas are not so apparent. But what about the fact that a warrant is needed to search me, and I am innocent until proven guilty? The media and our government continue to ignore this inconvenient truth.

Protester's lawsuit

The government wants Aaron Tobey's lawsuit dismissed and the judge is expected to rule on dismissal in the next couple of weeks. If it goes forward, the trial will be in January.