Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'll be traveling...

I will be posting infrequently, if at all, for the next couple of weeks. I promise to catch you up on all the news when I get back online!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Has the TSA made us safer?

A friend asked me the other day if I knew of any evidence to show that the TSA has not stopped any terrorist attacks despite their overzealous intrusions into the privacy of innocent travelers. Of course there is: if the TSA actually stopped an attack, they would issue a press release and the media would parrot the press release for days on end.

My proof is based on the behavior of the TSA and media in the past year. This month, the TSA finished its trial of the cartoon-image software upgrade for the naked scanners and started installing them at airports around the country. I get a Google News alert of all things related to naked scanners and I can say that daily - or more frequently - there is an article on a local news website touting the software upgrade that is forthcoming at a specific local airport. These articles are more or less verbatim, with changes to the airport location and passenger interviews (if any). Moreover, the software upgrade has been the top story on the TSA homepage.

Contrast this to things that may reflect badly on the TSA. For example, the media never has information in advance about the schedule for installation of new naked scanners at a particular local airport. There are only fuzzy details like (paraphrasing) "airport administrators do not know when the scanners will be installed," or "officials state that scanners will (or will not) be installed before the end of the year." Yet, somehow, magically, the media knows exactly which airports are getting the software upgrade and when. It is abundantly clear that the TSA is sending local media outlets press releases with this information.

So, do you really think that the TSA would keep a foiled terrorist plot under wraps? Of course not!

What we do know, however, is that the TSA has helped catch non-terrorist "criminals."  This presumably includes the arrest of Kurtis Blow, Montel Williams, and MeMpHiTz, all for minor drug or weapons charges.

We also know that virtually all of the terrorist plots since 9/11 have been hatched and encouraged by the FBI itself. And, yet, when they "catch" one of the poor saps that they entrap, it is all over the news. The media certainly does its job as favorite government mouthpiece!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The 'professional' TSA

Bureaucrats have been so proud of how "professional" the TSA is now. I'm not sure what this means, but, presumably, it's not a reference to low-life criminality. Bill Fisher writes to me to say:

Another TSA screener arrestedfor child molestation making this the 7th TSA screener arrested since December of 2010 for a sex related crime. This is what you get when the Government sanctions child molestation, sexual assault and strip searches in the guise of airport security.
DA charges Spring Creek TSA Screener with Lewdness & Child Molestation

The others include:
This now makes 44 screeners arrested in the past nine months.

Administrative law: where the TSA gets its power

Becky Akers explains how administrative law has made the Constitution irrelevant:
Administrative law “allows for the creation of public regulatory agencies” — that’s “bureaucracies” to you and me — “and contains all the statutes, judicial decisions, and regulations that govern them. It is the body of law created by administrative agencies to implement their powers and duties in the form of rules, regulations, orders, and decisions,” says West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. And yes, you read that circular reasoning right. Agencies draft the laws that empower them to draft laws: They write the rules of the game they play against us.
...The TSA also demonstrates what happens when someone challenges a bureaucracy in court. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a lawsuit to stop the TSA’s irradiating of passengers with its porno-scanners — but the bench found that forcing passengers to submit to naked examination is indeed constitutional.

If you don’t know about the Second Set of Books, that ruling is so absurd you can only assume the three justices deciding the case had savored the marijuana that barred one of them, Douglas Ginsburg, from the Supreme Court. But if you realize that virtually anything bureaucracies declare necessary to carry out their mandate from Congress is “constitutional,” you’ll understand how adults literate in English can possibly wring permission for government’s goons to ogle us from the Fourth Amendment’s clear prohibition of warrantless searches.

Private vs Federalized airport security

Walter Block explains in a Facebook post why it is not possible for the TSA to ever work the way we wish it might. An excerpt:
Idiocy in the private sector exists, but it is continually being pared away. No such fail-safe mechanism underlies and supports government enterprise. Imagine if safety protection at airports were run under the free market sector, and one firm, the ACME agency, paid great attention to nail clippers and black grandmothers, but ignored garbage cans and Arab males of a certain age. There is a name for such companies, and the name is "bankrupt." They would be eliminated, forthwith, through the competitive process.
It does not matter that our homeland security people wear uniforms. Or must pass civil service types of exams, where they answer theoretical questions theoretically. Or are forced to attend training sessions, where they see films of past events. There is simply no automatic mechanism that continuously improves quality, as occurs every day in the market place. We do not owe our reasonably good pizzas, shoes, and bicycles to geniuses. Rather, to this weeding-out system.