by Wendy McElroy
The Dollar Vigilante
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is tightening its grip on domestic travel. I don’t mean the random, unpredictable security checks at bus, subway and train stations which already exist. I mean a coordinated and systematic police control of internal travel within America. Groundwork is being laid.
APPLICATION TO MAKE U.S. INTO AN AIRPORT SCREENING ZONE
The application was tucked away on page 71431 of Volume 77, Number 231 of the Federal Register (November 30). It was surrounded by soporific references to forwarding “the new Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted below to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).”
The application for funding from the TSA constitutes a preliminary step toward systematically expanding TSA‘s authority from airports to highways and almost every other means of public travel. The expansion would erase one of the last remaining differences between the US and a total police state; namely, the ability to travel internally without being under police surveillance. The total police state you experience at airports wants to spill into roads and bus stops, to subways and trains. Or, rather, the TSA wants to solidify and spread the fledgling and erratic presence it already has.
The official request reads, “TSA‘s Highway BASE program [Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement] seeks to establish the current state of security gaps and implemented countermeasures throughout the highway mode of transportation by posing questions to… Continue reading
If you live in the United States today, you need to understand that your privacy is being constantly eroded. Our world is going crazy, government paranoia is off the charts and law enforcement authorities have become absolutely obsessed with watching us, listening to us, tracking us, recording us, compiling information on all of us and getting us all to spy on one another. If you doubt that we are rapidly getting to the point where the government will monitor every breath you take and every move you make, just read the rest of this article. The truth is that the government is watching you more closely than ever, and they are spending billions upon billions of dollars to enhance their surveillance capabilities even further. If our society stays on this current path, we will eventually have zero privacy left. At this point, it is not too hard to imagine a society where we will not be able to say anything, buy anything, sell anything, assemble with others or even leave our homes without government permission. We truly are descending into a dystopian nightmare and the American people had better wake up.
Sadly, most people living in the United States and in Europe do not realize what is happening. Most of them think that everything is just fine. The “Big Brother control grid” that is being constructed all over the western world squeezes all of us just a little bit tighter every single day, and most people… Continue reading
July 06, 2011
by Ron Paul
The Daily Bell
The press reports are horrifying: 95 year-old women humiliated; children molested; disabled people abused; men and women subjected to unwarranted groping and touching of their most private areas; involuntary radiation exposure. If the perpetrators were a gang of criminals, their headquarters would be raided by SWAT teams and armed federal agents. Unfortunately, in this case the perpetrators are armed federal agents. This is the sorry situation ten years after the creation of the Transportation Security Administration.
The requirement that Americans be forced to undergo this appalling treatment simply for the “privilege” of traveling in their own country reveals much about how the federal government feels about our liberties. The unfortunate fact that we put up with this does not speak well for our willingness to stand up to an abusive government.
Many Americans continue to fool themselves into accepting TSA abuse by saying “I don’t mind giving up my freedoms for security.” In fact, they are giving up their liberties and not receiving security in return. Last week, for example, just days after an elderly cancer victim was forced to submit to a cruel and pointless TSA search, including removal of an adult diaper, a Nigerian immigrant somehow managed to stroll through TSA security checks and board a flight from New York to LA — with a stolen, expired boarding pass and an out-of-date student ID as his sole identification! He was detained and questioned, only to be released to do… Continue reading
TSA and America’s Zero Risk Culture
November 16, 2010
By Richard Forno
The lede on the DRUDGEREPORT most of Monday showed a Catholic nun being patted down at an airport security checkpoint, with the caption starkly declaring that
“THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON.”
Ten years after 9/11, Americans who fly are facing a Faustian choice between subjecting themselves to a virtual (and potentially medically damaging) strip search conducted in questionable machines run by federal employees or a psychologically damaging pat-down of their bodies. Osama bin Ladin must be giggling himself silly this week.
But what should we expect in a society that requires adults to wear bicycle helmets while pedaling in the park, provides disclaimers of liability on TV advertisements, or prints warnings on fast-food coffee cups? The name of the game is zero risk. Not risk mitigation, or accepting responsibility for one’s actions, but risk aversion. It’s a failure to acknowledge that we can’t protect against everything bad that can happen to us, so we must protect against everything we think might — might — be harmful at some point.
It’s living in fear.
TSA has established itself as the lead federal agency charged with perpetuating this risk-averse culture at airports around the country. The proof is evident over the past ten years: Because of the Shoebomber, we have to remove our shoes. Thanks to the Christmas Crotchbomber, we are subjected to invasive scanning or government-mandated molestation. Because there’s a potential for explosives in liquid or gel… Continue reading
October 17, 2010
TheNation.com Blogs The Notion
As WikiLeaks prepares to release 400,000 Iraq war documents, two former government
security officials argue that WikiLeaks could have prevented 9/11, if the website
had been around in 2001.
The two ought to know: Coleen Rowley, the Minneapolis FBI agent who tried to sound the alarm a month before 9/11, and Bogdan Dzakovic, a special agent for the FAA’s security division, who was a leader of the agency’s “Red Team” that was warning officials about vulnerabilities in airport security just before 9/11.
“Things might have been different if there had been a quick, confidential way to get information out,” the two write — and WikiLeaks could have provided exactly that, according to their op-ed in the LA Times on Friday.
The information they wanted to get out was about Zacarias Moussaoui, the French Moroccan attending flight school in Minnesota who was interested in learning how to fly a commercial jet, but was not interested in learning how to land one. Rowley was one of those trying to sound the alarm about him. And a foreign intelligence service had reported that Moussaoui had connections with a foreign terrorist group.
Less than a month before 9/11, an FBI supervisor sent a warning to officials in Washington. He pleaded that he was “trying to keep someone from taking a plane and crashing into the World Trade Center.”
It doesn’t get much more specific than that. But FBI officials in Washington refused to act, or make any public statement about Moussaoui.…Continue reading
January 6, 2010
by Ray McGovern & Coleen Rowley
Yesterday, a blogger with the PBS’ NewsHour asked former CIA analyst Ray McGovern to respond to three questions regarding recent events involving the CIA, FBI, and the intelligence community in general.
Two other old intelligence hands were asked the identical questions, queries that are typical of what radio/TV and blogger interviewers usually think to be the right ones. So there is merit in trying to answer them directly, such as they are, and then broadening the response to address some of the core problems confronting U.S. counter-terror strategies.
After drafting his answers, McGovern asked former FBI attorney/special agent Coleen Rowley, a colleague in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to review his responses and add her own comments at the end. The Q & A is below:
Question #1 – What lapses in the American counter terrorism apparatus made the Christmas Day bombing plot possible? Is it inevitable that certain plots will succeed?
The short answer to the second sentence is: Yes, it is inevitable that “certain plots will succeed.” A more helpful answer would address the question as to how we might best minimize their prospects for success. And to do this, sorry to say, there is no getting around the necessity to address the root causes of terrorism or, in the vernacular, “why they hate us.”
If we don’t go beyond self-exculpatory sloganeering in attempting to answer that key question, any
“counter terrorism apparatus” is doomed to failure.… Continue reading
by James Ridgeway Published by Mother Jones
Scan, baby, scan. That’s the mantra among politicians at all levels in the wake of the thwarted terrorist attack aboard a Detroit-bound passenger jet. According to conventional wisdom, the would-be “underwear bomber” could have been stopped by airport security if he’d been put through a full-body scanner, which would have revealed the cache of explosives attached to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s groin.
Within days or even hours of the bombing attempt, everyone was talking about so-called whole-body imaging as the magic bullet that could stop this type of attack. In announcing hearings by the Senate Homeland Security Commitee, Joe Lieberman approached the use of scanners as a foregone conclusion, saying one of the “big, urgent questions that we are holding this hearing to answer” was “Why isn’t whole-body-scanning technology that can detect explosives in wider use?” Former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff told the Washington Post, “You’ve got to find some way of detecting things in parts of the body that aren’t easy to get at. It’s either pat downs or imaging, or otherwise hoping that bad guys haven’t figured it out, and I guess bad guys have figured it out.”
Since the alternative is being groped by airport screeners, the scanners might sound pretty good. The Transportation Security Administration has claimed that the images ” are friendly enough to post in a preschool ,” though the pictures themselves tell another story, and numerous organizations have opposed them as a gross invasion of… Continue reading
January 13, 2009
by Larisa Alexandrovna
New information surrounding the December plane crash which killed GOP internet consultant Michael Connell casts doubt on some of the rumors and speculation surrounding his death but doesn’t close the books on the circumstances surrounding the Republican technology star’s tragic end.
Michael Connell, a high-level IT guru for the Republican National Committee and the US Chamber of Commerce, died Dec. 19, 2008 at 5:53 PM ET when his airplane crashed near Ohio’s Akron-Canton airport.
Although there has been speculation in the media about the possibility of sabotage in Connell death, authorities do not suspect foul play. The official investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has not yet determined the cause of the crash; their final report is required to be produced within a year.
Connell’s ten year-old, seven-passenger, single engine Piper Saratoga II crashed into an empty house on Charolais Street in Lake Township, Ohio. The plane’s right wing clipped a flagpole in the front yard before it broke up, set fire to the garage, and tumbled some 50–60 feet along the ground toward the back yard of a neighboring home.
Connell was thrown from the burning plane and killed instantaneously by massive blunt force trauma, according to the Stark County coroner’s report. Although the body was not burned, fingerprints were required to confirm identity, according to Captain Lorin Geisner of the Greentown Fire Department.
According to Geisner, Connell’s personal items recovered from the crash site included a passport, a driver’s… Continue reading
TSA Head Disputes Claim, Tells 60 Minutes Measures Are Necessary Because "This
Is A War"
Dec. 21, 2008
(CBS) If you’re one of the millions heading home for the holidays by airplane,
you may be dreading the long lines and intrusive searches that a trip through
an airport checkpoint can mean these days.
Since 9/11, $40 billion has been spent to beef up airport security, with most
of it going to hire 50,000 screeners who enforce rules often considered annoying
Travelers feel so hassled by the screeners that their bosses at TSA, the Transportation
Security Administration, have launched an image makeover and a public relations
campaign to convince the public that there’s a good reason for the inconveniences
Go to a checkpoint and you’ll find passengers bellyaching about the undressing,
the unbuckling, and the taking off of their shoes – which they don’t have to
do in Europe or even Israel, where airline security is especially tight.
There’s a lot of stress, and griping about having to pack their little liquids
into baggies. They resent that each and every traveler is treated like a possible
terrorist, even little old ladies.
When correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Kip Hawley, the outgoing head of TSA,
if all this is really necessary, he wanted us to know that the terrorist threat
has not gone away.
“This is war. These people are trying to kill us. They got on the planes
in September 11th, 2001, killed 3,000 people. And… Continue reading
by Jon Gold
Latest Update 11/08/08
Thanks to www.historycommons.org, DHS, and simuvac. This is dedicated to the 9/11 Truth Movement.
Before I begin, I would like to say that theorizing about what happened on 9/11, when you’re not being given answers to your questions about that day by the people who SHOULD be able to do so, is PERFECTLY normal. As is suspecting that the reason these answers aren’t being given is “sinister” in nature. As Ray McGovern said, “for people to dismiss these questioners as “conspiratorial advocates”, or “conspiratorial theorists”… that’s completely out of line because the… The questions remain because the President who should be able to answer them, WILL NOT.” When you think about everything this Administration has done in almost 8 years, the idea that they might not be giving us the answers we seek because of something “sinister” is not crazy. In fact, it’s the most logical conclusion one can come to at this point. After seven plus years of obfuscation, spin, lies, and cover-ups regarding the 9/11 attacks, it is unavoidable to think that criminal complicity is the reason why.
That being said, we have not proven it beyond the shadow of doubt. We do not have documentation that shows they planned it. We do not have a signed confession from someone. We have pieces of the puzzle, and to most of us that have been doing this a long time, those pieces point to more than just Osama Bin Laden,… Continue reading
Under a new plan, the government could take your DNA and keep it on file permanently
if you are arrested at a demonstration on federal property. Take action today
to stop the government from giving itself sweeping new powers to create DNA databases.
Please read this alert for background on the plan and immediately go here and
click on the yellow "Add Comments" balloon to file public comments
with the government to oppose the plan. The government is only accepting comments
until this Monday, May 19, so take action today!
At the end of 2005, a little-noticed provision was slipped into the Violence
Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill that provided the federal government
with the power to collect and permanently keep DNA samples from anyone arrested
for any crime whether or not they are convicted, any non-U.S. citizen merely
detained by federal authorities for any reason, and everyone in federal prison.
Now the government is trying to put the DNA Fingerprint Act into practice.
Federal agencies would be required to take DNA samples from:
* Individuals arrested for the most minor of crimes, such as peaceful protestors
who are demonstrating on federal property.
* Countless numbers of visitors from other countries who are pulled aside in
airports by the Transportation Security Administration.
* Lawful immigrants seeking admission to this country, whether at the land border
or in passport control at the airport.
Go here for more information on the law.
This is a dangerous invasion of privacy. Our DNA is not a fingerprint – it
contains vast amounts of sensitive medical information about us.…
March 28, 2008
By Audrey Hudson
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today stood
by its decision to require a Texas airline passenger to remove a nipple ring
with pliers before boarding a flight, but says more discreet screening procedures
may allow the sensitively placed piercings to be worn in the future.
"TSA acknowledges that our procedures caused difficulty for the passenger
involved and regrets her discomfort with the situation," said TSA spokesman
"In the future, TSA’s procedures will meet the security need while giving
additional flexibility for this kind of screening situation," Mr. White
said. "This could include a visual inspection without removal."
Mandi Hamlin, 37-year-old graphics artists, says she was forced to remove the
nipple ring with pliers on Feb. 24 before boarding Southwest Flight 35 from
Lubbock to Dallas.
Gloria Allred, Ms. Hamlin’s lawyer, read from a letter to the TSA during a
video teleconference Thursday asking the TSA’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties
to investigate the incident.
"After nipple rings are inserted, the skin can often heal around the piercing,
and the rings can be extremely difficult and painful to remove," Allred
said in the letter.
"Still crying, she informed the TSA officer that she could not remove
it without the help of pliers, and the officer gave a pair to her," said
"This encounter was one that she will never forget," Ms. Allred said.
"The conduct of TSA was cruel and unnecessary. The last time that I checked
a nipple was… Continue reading
Sources: Air marshals missing from almost all flights
By Drew Griffin, Kathleen Johnston and Todd Schwarzschild
March 26, 2008
(CNN) — Of the 28,000 commercial airline flights that take to the skies on an average day in the United States, fewer than 1 percent are protected by on-board, armed federal air marshals, a nationwide CNN investigation has found.
That means a terrorist or other criminal bent on taking over an aircraft would be confronted by a trained air marshal on as few as 280 daily flights, according to more than a dozen federal air marshals and pilots interviewed by CNN.
The Transportation Security Administration flatly denied those reports.
Greg Alter, assistant special agent in charge of the federal air marshal program, said the 280 number “grossly understates coverage by an order of magnitude” and that the number is “four digits,” but he would not elaborate.
In a post on its Web site responding to the CNN story, the TSA said it would not disclose the number of air marshals flying each day so as not to “tip our hand to terrorists.” However, it said, “The actual number of flights that air marshals cover is thousands per day.” Read the full response
The investigation found low numbers even as the TSA in recent months has conducted tests in which it has been able to smuggle guns and bomb-making materials past airport security screeners.
The air marshal program began in 1970, after a rash of airline hijackings, and it was expanded significantly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.…Continue reading
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
October 27, 2007
Americans had best rethink the “war on terror” while they still have
the liberty to do so. For all of President Bush’s blah-blah talk about bringing
democracy to the world, the Bush administration has proved that it is no friend
of liberty at home.
The Bush administration has violated constitutional principles, US law, and
the Geneva Conventions as no previous administration has done. Here is a short
list of the Bush administration’s crimes:
Spying without court warrants on Americans in violation of both the US Constitution
and the FISA statute.
The denial of habeas corpus, attorney-client privilege, due process, and Geneva
Conventions protections to those, American or foreign, designated without evidence
as terrorists or enemy combatants.
The justification and use of torture to coerce confessions and the kidnapping
of foreign nationals who are sent to be tortured in foreign prisons.
The initiation of military aggression against states based on intentional deception
by the Bush administration of the US public and the United Nations, and the
intentional fabrication of “evidence” to justify unprovoked aggression
against sovereign states, which is a war crime under the Nuremberg standard
established by the US.
Violation of the oath of office to defend the US Constitution by practically
every member of the Bush administration and Congress.
Bush has assaulted the separation of powers and the rule of law with “signing
statements” and “executive orders” that President Nixon’s White
House Counsel John Dean says are commands that treat the co-equal… Continue reading
by Naomi Wolf
November 4, 2007
I have argued that in the closing stages of a ‘fascist shift’, events cascade. I am hearing about them, even across the globe. Here in Australia I hear from the nation’s best-know feminist activist, and former adviser to Paul Keating, Anne Summers, who was also at the time this took place Chair of the Board of Greenpeace International. Summers was detained by armed agents for FIVE HOURS each way in LAX on her way to and from the annual meeting of the board of Greenpeace International in Mexico, and her green card was taken away from her. ‘I want to call a lawyer’, she told TSA agents. ‘Ma’am, you do not have a right to call an attorney,’ they replied. ‘You have not entered the United States.’
Apparently a section of LAX just beyond the security line is asserted to be ‘not in the United States’ — though it is squarely inside the airport — so the laws of the US do not apply. (This assertion, by the way, should alarm any US citizen who is aware of how the White House argued that Guantánamo is not ‘in the United States’ – is a legal no-man’s land — so the laws of the US do not apply.) Toward the end of her second five-hour detention she asked, `Why am I being detained?’ `Lady, this is not detention,’ the TSA agent told her. `Detention is when I take you to the cells out… Continue reading
U.S. officials have long retaliated against employees who speak out, burying the dangers they expose. Now, Congress wants to give whistle-blowers greater protection — but President Bush vows to stop it.
By James Sandler
Nov. 01, 2007 | If there is any doubt about how the Bush administration treats government whistle-blowers, consider the case of Teresa Chambers. She was hired in early 2002, with impeccable law enforcement credentials, to become chief of the United States Park Police. But after Chambers raised concerns publicly that crime was up in the nation’s parks, she was rebuked by superiors and fired. When Chambers fought to regain her job through the legal system meant to protect whistle-blowers, government lawyers fought back, and associated her with terrorists. Despite a multiyear legal struggle, she is still fighting for her job.
Whistle-blowers have faced hostility not only under Republican administrations. During President Clinton’s tenure, Bogdan Dzakovic, an undercover security agent with the Federal Aviation Administration, suffered retribution for speaking out about weak airport security — three years before Sept. 11, 2001. Dzakovic was passed up for promotion time and again, and today, he says, he remains consigned to data entry duties for the Transportation Security Administration.
Every year, hundreds of federal workers sound the alarm about corruption, fraud or dangers to public safety that are caused or overlooked — or even covered up — by U.S. government agencies. These whistle-blowers are supposed to be guaranteed protection by law from retaliation for speaking out in the public’s interest.… Continue reading
by Brian Foley
September 11, 2007
JURIST Guest Columnist Brian J. Foley of Drexel University College of Law says that on the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we should remember that the US government has steadfastly refused to allow investigations that might locate individual blame for this massive security failure…
After major tragedies there are two investigative roads to take in trying to prevent a repeat: determining whether people or policies are to blame. Blaming people entails asking whether the disaster resulted from people failing to design or execute a proper preventive policy (“human error”). Blaming policy entails asking whether the policy failed either because the risk was not foreseeable, or because the harm simply cannot be prevented (“act of God”). Both roads should be taken.
After 9/11, however, the nation raced headlong into blaming policy alone. The prevailing view was stated by then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in May, 2002: “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would … try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.” But such danger had been imagined, years earlier. For example, in 1994, terrorists hijacked a French airliner seeking to crash it into the Eiffel Tower. Tom Clancy’s best-selling novel Debt of Honor (1994) ends with a Japanese airline pilot crashing his 747 into the U.S. Capitol (pp. 985-86). President Clinton and his staff also understood that an airplane could be used as a missile after a suicidal man piloted a Cessna into the White House lawn, just below the president’s bedroom, in the early hours of September 12, 1994.…Continue reading
by Mitch Albom
Free Press Columnist
October 21, 2007
This should make you angrier than you have been over almost anything since
Sept. 11 — and that includes the war in Iraq.
A recent report showed that 75% of fake bombs or bomb parts got past Transportation
Security Administration security at Los Angeles International Airport and 60%
got past TSA screeners at Chicago’s O’Hare.
Those are two of the busiest airports in the world. Those are two of the juiciest
targets a terrorist could desire.
Seventy-five percent? Three out of four times? We are constantly hearing the
tired and misguided phrase “fight ‘em over there so we don’t have to fight
They needn’t bother with us over there. With a 75% chance of success, why would
they go anywhere BUT here?
The heart of the matter
Now, the reason this news should have you outraged — and more importantly,
why our president and his national security team should be outraged — is this
failure draws a straight line to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and that
field in Pennsylvania six years ago.
Unlike Iraq, which had nothing to do with the actual explosions of Sept. 11,
airport security was at the heart of that tragedy. Tighter security, from passenger
identity to spotting box cutters, could have thwarted that day.
Can you imagine how our lives would be different if those 19 hijackers had
been stopped? Think about every security issue you now face in daily life, think
about the economic drain on this nation, think about the war, the lives lost,
the political hate, and all of it goes back to how those men got on those planes.…