Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category
I’ve been spending far more time reading than writing lately, as writing and nursing blog posts eats up more time than I’m willing to expend. However, I think it time well spent to point folks to articles that begin to make sense of the precarious position our nation or world finds itself in.
So pull up a comfy chair on this grey and dreary spring day (thought the rain is most wonderful), pour a cup of coffee, tea or what have you and dig in.
Today’s reading comes from William R. Polk, Losing the American Republic. Here’s the end of Part 1 (Part 2 hasn’t been published yet, but I’m looking forward to it).
Lessons Needed Learning
It would be rewarding if one could say that our experience in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan has made us wiser in our approaches to Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen, but it is hard to substantiate that conclusion. Yet the lessons are there to be learned. There are more, but consider just these few:
- Military action can destroy but it cannot build;
- Counterinsurgency does not work and creates new problems;
- Nation building is beyond the capacity of foreigners;
- Piecemeal, uncoordinated actions often exacerbate rather than solve problems;
- The costs of military action are multifold and usually harm not only the attacked but also the attacker’s society and economy;
- Reliance on military action and supply of weapons to the client state encourages it to undertake actions that make peace-seeking harder rather than easier;
- War radiates out from the battlefield so that whole societies are turned into refugees. In desperation they flee even far abroad and create unforeseen problems.
- The sense that the attacker is a bully spreads and converts outsiders into enemies;
- Failure to understand the society and culture even of the enemy is self-defeating;
- Angry, resentful people eventually strike back where they can and so create a climate of perpetual insecurity.
The result of such actions is deforming to the central objective of an intelligent, conservative and constructive American foreign policy — the preservation of our well-being.
The City of Missoula’s attempts to criminalize homelessness has reached a ridiculous crescendo. Downtown is a mess and don’t you know, it’s all the homeless’ fault. Not the drunks – served at downtown bars – who smash up downtown businesses. Not the drunks assaulting innocent pedestrians on their way home from the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival – nope..it’s those darn homeless.
Of latest debate is the ability of people to – yeah, get this – sit downtown. Because, you know, no one should be coming to Missoula Montana and have the audacity to sit. In downtown! Of all places!
Dan Cederberg, a member of Mayor Engen’s downtown advisory committee, is quoted in this Missoulian article covering today’s committee meetings as saying that ‘the council has heard plenty of testimony that many people who sit downtown also end up harassing and intimidating people, so the act is a “gateway” to poor behavior. He said the result is a public safety issue the city must address.’
Sitting is a “gateway” to poor behavior?
Liberals and Progressives? Please phone home because your city is lost.
I’ll tell you what is “gateway” behavior to a poor downtown lacking growth: Public officials and downtown businesses and commerce organizations standing by (because, you know, sitting is bad) with nary a whisper while one of the largest and most historic pieces of commerce real estate not only in Missoula but in western Montana is eyed as a viable site for the county public library.
Let that sink in: the county friggin’ library. A non-tax paying entity taking up one of the largest contiguous parcels of downtown Missoula. A block and a half off of riverfront, and on the main bridged street through downtown?
And before the Friends of the Library come out and whine about me hating all books, I’ll pray that ya’all believe me when I say I’m a big fan of libraries and book reading. Frankly, more people should do it. Newspapers too. Everyone should read and do it often. As often as possible.
And I’m even OK if you sit while doing it!
Yeah – downtown Missoula is turning into a tax-free haven – let’s not forget the University either.
Please grow the hell up and quit blaming everyone but yourselves people.
In the post-Bush era, many dem and civil libertarian hopes have been dashed thinking that Obama would usher in a change to the draconian policies that have been implemented or escalated under the guise of a “war on terror.” In many ways, Turley’s piece has given the phrase “the terrorists have won” another layer of legitimacy.
Here is an excerpt. Go read the full article, it’s well worth it. And then get to work fighting for civil liberties and civil rights.
…Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections. Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama. After the George W. Bush years, they were ready to fight to regain ground lost after Sept. 11. Historically, this country has tended to correct periods of heightened police powers with a pendulum swing back toward greater individual rights. Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities. Candidate Obama capitalized on this swing and portrayed himself as the champion of civil liberties.
However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the “just following orders” defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.
Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.
But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama’s personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush… [read whole article].
“When the history is finally written, though, it’s likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire. — Dave Graeber in The Guardian
One has to look overseas to get some perspective on the movement that is growing in Liberty Plaza just a few blocks away from Wall Street and the World Trade Center. Mainstream American media has turned a jaundiced eye away from the true happenings in NY City. Instead, we will get a few sound bites and scenes of arrests, as the media always looks to the confrontation, instead of the substance of any protest movements on the left. Some of the media will attack them for who they are, posing them as juveniles in nothing more than an extension of their culture wars.
#OccupyWallSt and its rapidly expanding national movement Occupy Together, with occupations in over 52 locations across the country, are truly an organic grassroots organization. They are not faux grassroots pretenders like the Koch brothers’ funded rebranding of the activist right wing GOP and conservative movement as tea partiers. There is little doubt remaining that the tea party only serves as cover for corporatist America and a distraction for the media, so they can ignore the real revolution that is growing in America.
The following quote from an article in The Guardian clearly examines the birth of the #OccupyWallSt movement as a generational movement built out of other similar movements of the last 40 years. So we undoubtedly will get a bunch of pejorative statements about how they protesters are all young, or unemployed, or college kids, or lgbt, or dress funny, or homeless… And that is exactly why they are protesting. Because our society no longer takes their concerns or needs seriously
Why are people occupying Wall Street? …
There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.
This movement springs directly out of the anti-globalisation, global justice, and anti-transnational/WTO corporate rallies and protests of the last few decades. Take a look at the protests and accompanying police brutality, and it all begins to look familiar.
The response from the police, and lack of interest from mainstream corporate media and the corporations they are protecting will only serve to amplify the call out to people to join this movement.
When the history is finally written, though, it’s likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire. Thirty years of relentless prioritising of propaganda over substance, and snuffing out anything that might look like a political basis for opposition, might make the prospects for the young protesters look bleak; and it’s clear that the rich are determined to seize as large a share of the spoils as remain, tossing a whole generation of young people to the wolves in order to do so. But history is not on their side.
We might do well to consider the collapse of the European colonial empires. It certainly did not lead to the rich successfully grabbing all the cookies, but to the creation of the modern welfare state. We don’t know precisely what will come out of this round. But if the occupiers finally manage to break the 30-year stranglehold that has been placed on the human imagination, as in those first weeks after September 2008, everything will once again be on the table – and the occupiers of Wall Street and other cities around the US will have done us the greatest favour anyone possibly can.
Is there any question as to why a whole generation is coalescing together to rise up against an establishment that seeks to disempower and repress them? “Grown-ups” will dismiss all of this as idealist leftist propaganda and poo-poo it, and attempt to ridicule and cast it aside. Remember the “don’t trust anyone over 30” mantra of the 60’s protest movement? Payback is a mo-fo. But this movement will not wither in the night, nor will hundreds or thousands of arrests deter it. The only thing that will assuage this movement will be when their voices are heard, and America changes.
Yes, Wall Street is our street. And that point will be hammered home until its ivory tower denizens and police protecters are brought back down to earth.
Feel free to post your favorite article or resource about #OccupyWallSt. We’ll keep posts like this going for the duration of the occupation, so that we can keep abreast of what is going on.
A guest post by Helena Immigration Attorney, Shahid Haque-Hausrath, posted by Jamee Greer
Jon Tester (D-MT) is facing a tough run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, but he just keeps giving progressives more reasons not to vote for him. His track record on immigration issues has been abysmal, as I’ve written about before. Make no mistake about it — Tester is probably the worst Democrat in the Senate on the issue of immigration, and he is one of the most vocal. The way he talks about the issue, you would think Montana wasn’t one of the states with the least number of immigrants in the whole country.
Despite outrage over his despicable vote against the DREAM Act, Tester hasn’t decided to leave immigration policy to states that actually have a dog in the fight. You won’t see him bragging about his DREAM Act vote, mind you — after all, Daily Kos famously called him an “asshole” for that reprehensible vote, and he doesn’t want to rekindle the ire of the netroots crowd. However, he has continued to make his anti-immigrant positions a core part of his campaign, jumping at every opportunity to link immigration to national security concerns. For instance, when a college in California was found to be enrolling foreign students without proper accreditation, Tester quickly issued a press release noting that “several of the terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, had entered the country using student visas.”
Recently, Jon Tester put up two web pages on the issue of immigration that are so ignorant you would think Tester locked anti-immigrant zealots Mark Krikorian and John Tanton in a room with a bottle of whiskey and posted whatever they came up with.
In fact, these two immigration pages are so wrong-headed that they require some analysis and interpretation to fully make sense of them. One web page outlines his unsophisticated view of the immigration issue in four paragraphs. His other page lists his immigration “accomplishments.” (By accomplishments, Tester seems to mean ways he has screwed immigrants and wasted federal money.) I’ll review both of the pages together.
Jon’s position on immigration is simple: people who wish to immigrate to the United States must follow the rules, and we must enforce them. That’s why Jon opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.
During his first year as Senator, Jon helped put a stop to a bill that would have granted amnesty to illegal immigrants living in the United States.
Jon voted in 2007 to defeat the Immigration Reform Bill, telling his colleagues, “We don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.”
Where do we start? Polls have consistently shown that the people think our immigration system is broken and want some form of immigration reform. The last time our immigration laws were substantively changed was in 1996, and almost everyone agrees that those changes were ineffective — in fact, they created more problems than they solved. People are frustrated by the federal government’s failure to act, and don’t believe that “enforcement only” solutions are going to work. As a result of the federal government’s inertia, states like Arizona, Utah, and Georgia have begun to enact their own immigration policies, which raise significant constitutional concerns including due process violations and racial profiling. While I strongly oppose state level enforcement of immigration laws, and I believe that these state laws are misguided, it is difficult to fault the states for at least trying to take action when the federal government will not.
Yet, Jon Tester considers it an “accomplishment” that he has ignored the will of the public and done absolutely nothing to fix our immigration system. In fact, he is proud that he helped derail immigration reform in 2007, and has continued to sabotage efforts to reform our immigration laws. It’s nice that he sets the bar so low for himself, but the rest of the country is expecting a little more.
Tester refuses to acknowledge that our system needs to be fixed, stating “we don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.” The problem, of course, is that our system is broken and we need to reform our laws in order to more effectively enforce them. Current immigration reform proposals aim to increase enforcement on the border and interior of the country, but recognize that in order to curb undocumented immigration we also need to fix some of our laws that are creating the problems in the first place. For instance, our laws include huge gaps in coverage, where many family members have no reasonable opportunity to immigrate legally to the United States. Among other things, reform proposals would open new paths to family-based immigration that were causing needless undocumented immigration.
Tester remains willfully obtuse in his opposition to so-called “amnesty” for immigrants who lack lawful status. “Amnesty” means a general pardon for an offense against the state, but Tester uses the term “amnesty” to refer to any changes in the law that would create a path to legalization — even if the path is strenuous and imposes a strict set of requirements. He even used the term amnesty to refer to the DREAM Act, which would have created a seven (or more) year path towards citizenship for men and women who serve our country in the military or go to college. There is no “amnesty” on the table, and there hasn’t been for years. Instead, what is being proposed is a way for immigrants who are already here to earn their way back into lawful status by paying fines, back taxes (if they haven’t already been paying like most immigrants), and potentially even community service. After all, even Newt Gingrich understands that it is not realistic to deport all of the 11 million people who are here without status.
Finally, comprehensive immigration reform won’t be expensive, as Tester states, but will actually increase wages for all workers and improve our economy. Time and again, it has been proven that spending money on border security alone, without any other changes to our laws, is untenable and ineffective. Nevertheless, Tester has chosen to advocate these “enforcement only” solutions.
Instead [of immigration reform], Jon has focused his energy on boosting security along America’s borders, particularly our northern border with Canada. From his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.
That same year, Jon introduced and passed into law a measure requiring the Homeland Security Department to report on weaknesses along the northern border and develop a plan for improving northern border security.
So let me get this straight: Instead of working for immigration reform to help the entire country, Tester is pushing for huge government expenditures to protect us from Canada? It is foolish to tout Canadian border security as an alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, because it is clear that the risks from an unmonitored northern border have almost nothing to do with the larger immigration problems our country is facing.
While the GAO issued a report stating that Department of Homeland Security needs to work better with other agencies and partners along the northern border, the GAO didn’t endorse Tester’s crusade to spare no expense to “secure” the border. Indeed, the GAO previously pushed back on claims about insecurity on the northern border.
Nevertheless, Tester is so eager to appear strong on immigration enforcement that he managed to get an appropriation for military grade radars on the Canadian border. He also wants to expand the use of unmanned drones (and they are already being used in some areas). Those radars and drones would have come in handy last year, when I helped a Canadian kid who got lost and accidentally drove his ATV across the border.
As George Ochenski put it: “For most Montanans, the border with Canada has never been and likely will never be seen as a threat. After all, the U.S. and Canada share the longest border on the continent, and it has been our ally in world wars as well as regional conflicts. It’s also our largest trading partner and our closest, largest and most secure source of oil. Treating Canada as some variant of Pakistan’s border is, in a word, insulting to both Montanans and our Canadian friends.”
Jon was the only Senate Democrat to put his name on legislation pumping new resources into border protection for new technology and new border patrol officers. Jon cosponsored the measure after securing a pledge that a certain percentage of those new resources would be spent along the northern border.
Here’s a tip for Tester’s staffers: When you’re the only Democrat to put your name on a piece of legislation, its probably nothing to brag about. The bill that Tester is referring to is actually a corollary to one that was introduced by his opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT). Jon Tester partnered up with Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-AZ), among other Republicans, to co-sponsor a $3 million amendment. This bill also funded construction of the fence along the Mexican border — a project that has been abandoned and condemned as a tremendous failure and waste of billions in taxpayer dollars.
And from his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.
One of Tester’s “critical upgrades” was a $15 million dollar renovation to the border station in Whitetail, MT, which was reported to get about five crossings a day and no commercial traffic. After facing criticism for needless spending, Tester and Max Baucus reduced the appropriation to only $8.5 million. Meanwhile, Canadian officials closed the road leading to this border station, rendering the whole project useless. This embarrassing episode didn’t make Tester’s list of accomplishments.
Of course, even though he votes against any legislation that isn’t directed purely towards deporting immigrants, Tester wouldn’t want you to get the impression that he is against immigration:
Jon knows that legal immigrants, like his grandparents, helped build America into what it is today. But he also believes that no one is above the law.
In public statements and constituent letters, Tester is constantly stating that his grandparents “waited in line” and followed the rules, implying that new immigrants should be expected to follow the same process. However, it appears that Tester’s ancestors entered the country in 1916 — before our current immigration system even existed. At that time, our immigration policy was comparable to an “open border” policy. Years later, quotas were enacted to limit immigration and more stringent criteria for entry were developed. It was not until 1965 that the current Immigration and Nationality Act was enacted, with its very limited methods for gaining permanent residence in the U.S.
There is no question that Jon Tester’s ancestors faced a dramatically different immigration system than those who are immigrating today. Tester and other enforcement advocates often evoke the image of a “line” that immigrants must simply wait in. However, the truth is that for most immigrants, there is no “line.” Tester’s own grandparents may not have been able to enter the country under our current immigration scheme.
Jon Tester’s vocal anti-immigrant positions have placed Montana progressives in a difficult position. Contrary to the attacks of those who want to silence any opposition to Tester’s bad policies, none of us are excited about the prospect of his opponent, Dennis Rehberg, being elected to the Senate. Indeed, Rehberg’s stance on immigration is no better than Tester’s. However, Tester’s ignorant views on immigration are also making it impossible for us to lend him our vote.
Tester’s positions on immigration are not gaining him support with Republicans, but they are causing a split among Democrats. The best thing for Jon Tester to do is distance himself from the issue of immigration, because each time he opens his mouth, he brings many progressives closer to sending a difficult message: The progressive movement cannot tolerate a Democrat who has an anti-immigrant agenda, regardless of the consequences.
Shahid Haque-Hausrath blogs about local immigration issues at Border Crossing Law Blog.
This come from an AP story featured in the Missoulian today:
The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA’s so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.
“We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day,” said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.
Get the full article here: http://tinyurl.com/4223ltt
So fuck it… Let’s shred the constitution as long as it makes us feel safe and gives us petrol prices below $4 per gallon.
And if these black sites and torture are so successful, why didn’t we capture Osama and send him somewhere to be interigated?
It would seem that we in America are once again experiencing a kumbaya moment in which we all hug, hold hands, and say things like “America, Fuck Yeah!” and chant “USA, USA.” All because of the killing of one man. But in watching the news reports of celebrations taking place outside of the White House and where the twin towers used to grace the skyline of NYC, I couldn’t help but see parallels between how some Americans reacted and how some Muslims reacted after 9/11.
When we were surprised by this:
Some in the Muslim world reacted like this:
In many respects we couldn’t understand why there would be anybody in the world that would be happy with an attack on America. We collectively scratched our heads seeking answers to why people hated us. And because we have no understanding of history, of cause and effect, we smugly came to the conclusion that it was because they hate our freedom, or that Islam was simply a naturally violent and barbaric religion.
Yet when we final got revenge with this:
Some in America reacted like this:
Now, I’m not saying that the attacks that occurred on September 11th and the killing of Osama Bin Laden are equivalent acts of violence. The people in the Twin Towers were innocent, Osama had crimes to pay for. The deaths of 3,000 unsuspecting people on that morning can not be rationalized, while Osama had to have known what fate held in store for him, he knew he was a hunted man. Otherwise, he would not have been hiding out in a high security compound. Osama Bin Laden deserved to be punished for his actions, to be brought to justice for the atrocities he set in motion.
But what the two events share is their symbolism. The attacks on 9/11 weren’t so much aimed at the people in those buildings as they were the symbols of American strength, both financial and martial. Osama struck at the heart of our empire, attempting to unveil the corruption and moral degradation that lies at the core of our world spanning reach. Our strike this weekend, cutting off the head of Al Qaeda, was just as symbolic. We proved that no matter how long we have to wait or how far we have to go, America will hunt down every last terrorist and we will show no mercy. There will be no day in court for the likes of Osama Bin Laden. Others like him will be put down like the dogs that they are.
News that we got Osama was an emotional release… an end to a chapter in our current American story. But for all the celebrating there needs to be a more focused and inward reflection of what this event really means for our current situation. And my guess would be that beyond the symbolism, beyond the feel good moment, little will change. Our quest for hegemony will continue unabated and the world’s reaction to such a geopolitical reality will continue.
I’ll leave you with this somber reflection…
The crazy seems to be piling up at the State House here in Montana. The most recent example to bubble up in a legislative committee is Rep. Wendy Warburton’s HB 278. The bill would authorize the organization of local
militia “Home Guard” units that would serve as,” a volunteer community service apparatus in Montana to fill the gap between community service organizations, such as a neighborhood watch program and the Montana national guard, and to provide the state and its local communities with the ability to call upon trained and organized volunteers when necessary resources are otherwise unavailable.” Is this bill likely to pass, i doubt it… Wendy has a track record of sponsoring bills that go nowhere, but there is the distinct possibility that these are the types of laws that will get passed in 2013 if the wave of Tea Party angst continues to drive the political debate and election wins for ultra-conservatives.
Just seven months after 9/11 I attempted to board a flight for Washington, D.C.
I was 17, a junior in high school. Oh, and I was this huge punk rock geek boy who had blue hair, wore (embarrassingly enough) several sets of studs and spikes, about three feet of chain on my wallet, and a Fat Wreck Chords hoodie every day.
So, to some degree, I get why I was held on the floor of the Missoula Airport by two armed National Guardsmen while I was patted down and my shoes were confiscated. I spent a great deal of time trying to look like trouble, and these guys bought the facade. Still, I remind you, I was 17 and a freaking kid from Anaconda, Montana. I had never once been arrested (not for lack of effort on the part of my hometown’s police force). I didn’t do drugs, or drink alcohol. Even more telling, I was on a school trip sponsored by Close Up Washington, which you had to apply to. I was for all intents and purposes a good kid–one with blue hair, but a good kid.
But that morning in April 2002 I was held as if I were a danger to America. Another guy I went to school with was held as well. He was a redneck, boot wearin’, big buckle kinda guy, so maybe my hopes that I was messed with for my hair is misplaced.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The issue is that I was treated like a criminal because I did not know my Chuck’s were setting off the metal detector, and that lack of knowledge got me searched by two guys with guns.
The main point here is that I was scared shitless for absolutely no reason because I was never a threat, and the government had no right to assume I was.
The Transportation Safety Administration treated me poorly because they were afraid of planes blowing up, and the world ending. It was just a few months after we saw 3,000 people die on TV on a looping repeat of media pandering, and propagandist fear mongering. I get where they were coming from. That said, I am a firm believer in the following words:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
That’s the Fourth Amendment, and what a grand message it is. Coming right after amendments giving me right to words, guns, and keeping the Army out of my home, the Fourth means that police cannot just stop and search you without cause, or a warrant––one that is specific in what they will search.
The TSA ignores this of course by assuming one thing: You want to kill people. If they do not believe that, then they are violating your civil rights, as well as mine. And for what? What the hell does the TSA actually accomplish? Last time I checked one nutcase nearly blew up a plane with his shoe, and another (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab) tried setting his crotch on fire. (Ironically the TSA isn’t sure these new scanners would detect the infamous crotch bomb, so that’s nice.)
Both made it through security, and onto airplanes–hell, Richard Reed did it the month after the TSA began. Imagine if within 30 days of starting a job you made that huge of a mistake. You’d be fired. But, luckily our government is slow, woefully inefficient, and all about look instead of effort, so everyone kept their jobs.
Here’s some numbers: the TSA has more than 56,000 employees, and a budget of $8.1 billion to accomplish jack. I mean, come on, you’d think with that amount of money and that many people watching it wouldn’t come down to people on flights stopping terrorism.
Well, the government felt that way too, so they’ve recently added a fresh indignity to the business of flight: the naked scanner.
There have been plenty of blog posts and articles written about just how awful these things are, but in case you haven’t seen evidence, this is straight from the government:
As you can see in the third picture (from the left) that’s a penis. Also, the woman, first picture, has some love handles and a flabby ass (image 2). The TSA says that they delete the images, but, um, they don’t. Honestly, does that matter that much after a stranger gets to see your crotch? Aren’t you exposed too much even if the image is deleted? And isn’t it unnerving that a government that won’t allow “profanity” on TV will do this to it’s citizens? (“Sorry, you can’t show Janet Jackson’s nipple, unless you’re checking it for weaponry.”)
But, after all of that I have on observation to make:
You’re only scanned at the security gate. That’s it. If a terrorist wants to make an impression this holiday season, Mr./Ms. Martyr only needs to get in the crowd, and detonate. Getting on a plane with a bomb would endanger between 30 and 200 people. Blowing up at the crowded security gates…well, that’d make for some dead infidels.
So how the hell is the TSA making us safe? It ain’t.
The TSA is the window dressing our government likes to put up to satiate the needs of frightened middle class white people. They do things like this so you can feel a bit safer, and feel is it. You only feel. It isn’t real. It’s like HCR, the “missile defense shield,” or Jell-O. It’s just something to make you feel better, but ultimately provides nothing. Even if it apparently makes some anti-liberty nutbags feel better (One, Two).
But there are things you can do: Opt out of the scanner, and while you’re being given a pat down help educate the government official stomping on your rights by showing them a handy copy of the Bill of Rights. I carry one with my ACLU membership card. And speaking of the ACLU, they are on our side, so feel free to help them by joining.
Also remember this: your liberties are not worth sacrificing for the idea of safety.
Update at 10pm, Monday:
My wife wishes to add two points:
- She is sad that I will no longer be allowed to fly, and
- Magician/libertarian Penn Jillette turned me on to the tiny Bill of Rights cards, so give credit where credit is due.