Let's cut to the chase: the searches we are undergoing at airports at the hands of the TSA are not necessary. And they are most certainly a violation of our civil liberties. This is the "Great War Against Terror", exposed for what it really is.
Of course, you may not agree. Conventional wisdom is that there is a serious terrorist threat, and some level of security is necessary to combat it.
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Here is a Daily Kos member commenting just yesterday to that effect:
Most of this security thing has just been; better mouse trap=smarter mouse.
But now the Prez is in a box. A very small box with real little windows.
If he lets up on procedures and there is another attack (successful or not), "He's weak!!"
If he leaves them in place ...attack.. "He's been a tyrant and we're still unsafe!!"
One of those two things will happen, because there will eventually be another attack. [snip]- Geez 53
"…because there will eventually be another attack."
What sort of attack are we talking about? Another 9/11 attack, with thousands dead in the smoking ruins?Obviously not--there has been no such thing in this country from September 12, 2001 to the present. Here is what one writer has to say about it:
If Al Qaeda was anything like the organization that the US government claims, it would not be focused on trivial targets such as passenger airliners. The organization, if it exists, would be focused on its real enemies. Try to imagine the propaganda value of terrorists wiping out the neoconservatives in one fell swoop, followed by an announcement that every member of the federal government down to the lowest GS, every member of the House and Senate, and every governor was next in line to be bumped off.
This would be real terrorism instead of the make-belief stuff associated with shoe bombs that don't work, underwear bombs that independent experts say could not work, and bottled water and shampoo bombs that experts say cannot possibly be put together in airliner lavatories.- Paul Craig Roberts - "TSA Gestapo Empire" (Op Ed News)
Provocative title aside, Roberts has a point. I would add to his examples the "Times Square bomber" from last summer. According to one expert account, this "bomb" had no real detonator, and no hope of actually exploding:
Evan F. Kohlmann: In this case, we already have some idea about why this attack was not as successful as planned. Quite obviously, the person or persons who put this device together lacked proper knowledge or experience in deploying explosives. Attempting to ignite fuel tanks or propane canisters is much more difficult than the impression one gets from Hollywood movies. Anyone who doubts that should speak with Dr. Bilal Abdullah, the Iraqi-born doctor who attempted (and failed) to use a similar device against a nightclub in London in 2007. The culprits here in Times Square were not even skilled enough to come up with a remote detonator -- they were just relying on simple timers.- Washington Post, May 3, 2010
In another account I saw at the time, a bomb expert referred to the Times Square bomb as a Rube Goldberg type device that had no hope of working.
We may not have been seeing any real terrorist attacks in the U.S., but we have been seeing a lot of security theater. Paul Craig Roberts, again:
Subsequent domestic terrorist events have turned out to be FBI sting operations in which FBI agents organize not-so-bright disaffected members of society and lead them into displaying interest in participating in a terrorist act. Once the FBI agent, pretending to be a terrorist, succeeds in prompting all the right words to be said and captured on his hidden recorder, the "terrorists" are arrested and the "plot" exposed.
The very fact that the FBI has to orchestrate fake terrorism proves the absence of real terrorists.
If Americans were more thoughtful and less gullible, they might wonder why all the emphasis on transportation when there are so many soft targets. Shopping centers, for example. If there were enough terrorists in America to justify the existence of Homeland Security, bombs would be going off round the clock in shopping malls in every state. The effect would be far more terrifying than blowing up an airliner.
Indeed, if terrorists want to attack air travelers, they never need to board an airplane. All they need to do is to join the throngs of passengers waiting to go through the TSA scanners and set off their bombs. The TSA has conveniently assembled the targets.
"The TSA has conveniently assembled the targets." Talk about a fundamental violation of the rules of security--let's assemble a large crowd of people in a known, exposed area and keep them waiting around. Yes, that would be really safe.
Then there is the fact that, once you have entered the TSA checkpoint, if you decide to refuse to be searched (irradiated, groped, whatever…) and choose instead to leave the airport, you can be fined $10,000 and possibly be arrested and charged as a terrorist suspect!
I don't know about you, but at this point I am far more afraid of the TSA than I am of any terrorists. I am not likely to meet up with a terrorist in my lifetime. I have already met the TSA and will doubtless have many more encounters. So far, I have stayed out of trouble (a tiny knife that was part of my manicure set was confiscated once a couple of years ago, but the agent didn't make a big deal about it), but I do not know how I would react to being groped, and I do not care to be virtual strip-searched by the new body scanners. We are right up against a line where ordinary, law-abiding people can be turned into criminals unless they submit to degrading treatment.
This is a serious matter, and it is time to give the Obama administration hell for being so tone deaf about it. Because, if we do not, we are facing more of the same, and worse. John Pistole, the TSA head, told USA Today shortly after he was appointed last June, that protecting trains and subways from terrorist attacks is as high a priority for him as air travel.
It is difficult to imagine New Yorkers being porno-screened and sexually groped on crowed subway platforms or showing up an hour or two in advance for clearance for a 15-minute subway ride. It is even more difficult to imagine open air bus stops turned into security zones with screeners and gropers inspecting passengers before they board. But then, not so long ago you could get on an airplane without taking off your shoes.
Now, thanks to bad politics, bureaucratic interests, and who knows what else, we face a situation far worse than any likely terrorist attack--the complete evisceration of the right of ordinary people to go about their business without being harassed and criminalized. This is not the country I was raised in. This is not the country I want to live in. It is time to fight back against this bullshit.