Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Naked scanners throughout the empire

There are body scanners, and TSA agents, in Guam. It's easy to forget that the US is an empire, and not very benevolent at that, so this is just a little reminder.

The Atlantic gets it right

I'm a bit surprised by the tone of this editorial in The Atlantic, albeit pleasantly surprised. I'm used to really toned down opposition from most corners of the media.

For example, in reference to the Turkish and Chinese (more police-state like) airport security, the author writes:
Logically, there's no reason why the U.S. shouldn't ultimately apply the same approach... The logic, of course, is the screening-line premise that every traveler should be considered a potential terrorist. The TSA Administrator, John Pistole, says he wants to move away from that premise -- and we'll get into all the ramifications thereof...
So the author insinuates that more severe security is not off the table for the US - it's withing the realm of reason that the TSA will follow in Turkey's footsteps. He then points out that the TSA's plan to pretend that they don't view all mundanes at the airport as threats has flaws.

The author, James Fallows, also openly promotes opting-out.

I look forward to the next article in this series where Trusted Traveler, or PreCheck, or whatever they eventually call it, is taken to task.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Civic disobedience in the airports

I am so pleased to see this story about "Bikini Girl" who has held fast in her protest for 7 flights during the last year. Her reason?
I feel like the TSA is making travellers [sic] feel uncomfortable, and I feel like we can have security measures that don't make people feel uncomfortable.
 Awesome response!

The other Washington rag blasts the TSA

It's a good piece. I especially like that it calls out the TSA's claim that there are few complaints:
 Travelers at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport who tell a security manager that they wish to file a complaint aren’t asked to document their concern on the spot. Instead, as experienced by Washington Times staff, they’re handed a three-inch strip of paper with contact information for the TSA claims-management office. They’re also instructed to visit the TSA blog. It’s not surprising that few have waded through the confusing layers of bureaucracy just to register an opinion that they know is going to be ignored.
The policy recommendation in the conclusion is sufficiently vague, so it can be construed as recommending true privatization, or faux, fascist privatization (à la Mica). I'll take it for now, but, in light of the Washington Post's recent article, I am cynical about the motives here. When W was in office, did the Wash Times criticize the TSA while WaPo praised it? I honestly don't know, but I doubt it. Most likely, both promoted the propaganda. But, now that  Dem is in the White House and prominent Republicans are currying favor with Tea Party voters - and promoting a fascist plan to hand TSA implementation to contractors - the Wash Times is being more critical. They are an ally now, but what happens after the next election?

H/T Jeff Keller

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Washington Post Joins the TSA Propaganda Parade

The Washington Post carried another TSA propaganda statement over the holiday weekend, serving up creampuff questions for the corrupt administrator. The article attempts to praise Pistole for reigning over this criminal workforce and violating the basic rights of travelers.
Under his “leadership” over 60,000 people a day are harassed and molested at his direction. Of that 20,000 are subjected to his groping at random, without any rational security basis for this harassment.
He has presided over a criminal workforce that has had 62 screeners arrested for serious offenses so far this year.
His "professional" employees include 10 screeners that have been charged with child sex crimes this year including four child rapes.
Over a dozen of his vaunted screeners have been jailed for stealing over $800,000 from passenger baggage this year alone.
He has lied in testimony to Congress over ten times this year. He claimed that TSA would stop molesting children on four separate occasions, in November 2010, again in April, then again in May and November 2011 yet their invasive groping of children continues.
He lied about Congress and the public saying that the scanners produced a chalky, cartoon like outline, but in August Denver TSA Director, Pat Ahlstrom admitted that the images were indeed “very graphic”. So millions have been digitally strip searched despite the propaganda earlier this year.
He has deliberately misled the public into believing that the privacy software exists at all checkpoints. In reality, they continue to have male workers view the nude images of men, women and children. TSA has not added the privacy software on the 250 x-ray scanners installed at many major airports, including LAX, JFK, O’Hare, Orlando, Boston and Phoenix and has not said when, or if, this will be installed.
He has told Congress three times since January that the scanners would be independently tested yet again reneged on the latest promise he made in October, saying that he deems the scanners safe. Meanwhile, millions of passengers continue to be digitally strip searched and irradiated by these dangerous devices. He continues to expose passengers to these dangerous scanners despite expert testimony that these will cause over 100 cancer deaths a year.
TSA has been adamantly refused to allow independent testing. He has not explained what TSA is afraid the tests will reveal or why they are so willing to sacrifice passenger privacy and health other than to protect private manufacturers’ products and their profits. There is clearly an implication of corruption in the deployment of these scanners and demands investigation by Congress.
Under his “leadership”, complaints about TSA screening have increased dramatically. According to an article in WSJ on 9/1/11 complaints about TSA screening jumped this year. TSA logged 1,975 screening complaints in June alone, more than double the 814 received in June 2010.
Since Pistole assumed control and instituted these Draconian procedures air travel has declined. The US Travel Association reported this month that “We can reduce the hassle of flying without compromising security” and estimated that TSA is costing the travel industry $85 billion in lost revenue and 880,000 additional jobs.
TSA can plant all the stories they want saying that people like TSA but the fact remains that the vast majority of travelers despise this agency and want it dismantled.