Capitalism Forever

Expert: TSA scans would let al-Qaida duplicate 9/11

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All of this distracts from what is the real problem, which is the self-defeating, "politically correct" approach to airport security.

The real problem is the government violating rights. If airport security were totally handled by private concerns like the airlines themselves rather than by governmental agencies or according to government edicts, it would be much more reasonable and pleasant for their customers and much more effective with regard to real security.

You don't think the airlines/airports would subject themselves to the same politically-correct, faux-security?

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You don't think the airlines/airports would subject themselves to the same politically-correct, faux-security?

One thing that would immediately improve is that it would not be so customer-hostile.

I think political correctness would definitely adversely affect the security, particularly at first (if it were privatized). But, over time, innovation would occur. Maybe an airline would try doing security like El Al does. Maybe airlines with ineffective security would lose much business if an attack occurs that they could have, but didn't, prevent. (Some might say it's macabre to talk about market forces that occur as a result of a tragedy. Of course, that's the way it really works, now, under the TSA's purely concrete-bound, reaction-based policies.)

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Read these yesterday. It is pure insanity.

I have cut back my business flying completely. There's enough technologies to communicate and get work done. I would prefer to be working face to face at times, but I will not submit to this. Seriously considering getting a pilot's license.

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Now, judge what I described above against what we have been doing, for the most part, since Korea and it should be no wonder why the terrorist are taking such bold actions.

I had been thinking about Korea and Vietnam recently, actually.

The Korean war left South Korea into a country that grew so prosperous Korean housewives now fight each other for Gucci handbags and a jumper in Seoul costs you $300 (not to mention you probably use an LG fridge or TV, and I am typing this on a Samsung laptop).

The Vietnam war, exemplifying our new strategy, left a country in communist ruins for the best part of the second half of the 20th century, only seeing it recover once (as with every other communist or formerly communist country) the communists' generation finally died of old age leaving the dynamic youth to rebuild the country with the aid of foreign direct investment.

It remains to be seen what will happen to Cuba. I am planning a trip there in the very near future to "catch" communism before it goes away. It's the last place, short of North Korea, where one can study the effects of full blown Marxism, but with Raul Castro opening the borders, we may well see most of it disappear within a decade.

As for TSA, I consider it ineffective at its stated aim of delivering security to passengers (which is what it has been set up for). As security is a government service, it is up to citizens to ask the government to straighten its act. In Europe we have had no problems yet, and I believe that is because our security services do not bother with things such as PC and do not hesitate to terminate threats when they occur, even when they are wrong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Jean_Charles_de_Menezes). The upside (if it is one) of having several million muslims on the continent is that we understand the culture very well, and by that I do not mean diversity studies in universities.

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In the "don't touch my junk" audio, you can clearly hear one supervisor telling the would be passenger that he gave up his rights when he purchased his ticket. I won't go into the fact that you can't give up rights, etc, but take that to the logical extreme. If, as they say, you enter into a security area and may not leave until they tell you to, that they may do anything with you while you are there, and the search consent happened at the ticket purchase, is it such a stretch to imagine that they would extend that to a pre-flight check? Why not have TSA randomly visit homes prior to the flight to inspect and evaluate if there are terrorist activities, bomb making, etc? It sounds insane now, but I would never have thought I would see countrymen arguing that this is a valid activity and surrender themselves to it.

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But we are freely entering an airport, fully aware that these inane, draconian security policies are being enforced by mindless, indifferent goon squads. This does not equate to searching someone's house or car without a search warrant, or being detained indefinitely by the police without trial or a lawyer.

That does not affect the analysis. That is like the government saying that because you "freely" choose to drive a car on the streets, that they have permission to search your car without the restrictions of the fourth amendment.

The government imposes this restriction by fiat on all (or nearly all, based on whatever criteria) airports, so flyers do not have a free choice.

The magnitude and severity of the intrusion in airports is quite a bit less than, for example, government searching any car at will, but the principle is the same.

Do we REALLY drive on the roads by free will? Or are we forced to work to pay property taxes so that the government mafia won't show up with guns drawn, on our doorsteps to evict us from our domiciles? The government could end traffic fatalities by banning driving, but then the taxable income-earning potential of the subject slaves would be reduced to near zero, if not zero. Driving is a requirement, if you wish to avoid facing armed stormtroopers evicting you from your land.

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Do we REALLY drive on the roads by free will?

I wasn't arguing that, but rather, the opposite. Our current legal system recognizes (to a significant degree, though not in totality) fourth amendment rights in one's car, so I was making an analogy to air travel to suggest it should apply to one's person when flying, also. One can't use the argument that flying is an "agreement" to give up those rights any more than driving on the roads is.

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Do we REALLY drive on the roads by free will?

I wasn't arguing that, but rather, the opposite. Our current legal system recognizes (to a significant degree, though not in totality) fourth amendment rights in one's car, so I was making an analogy to air travel to suggest it should apply to one's person when flying, also. One can't use the argument that flying is an "agreement" to give up those rights any more than driving on the roads is.

True. And if things were as bad as Mark is implying then when would not be having this conversation on an open public forum.

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Uh oh, I guess I'm officially a "domestic extremist" now!

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/30286

The terminology contained within the reported memo is indeed troubling. It labels any person who “interferes” with TSA airport security screening procedure protocol and operations by actively objecting to the established screening process, “including but not limited to the anticipated national opt-out day” as a “domestic extremist.” The label is then broadened to include “any person, group or alternative media source” that actively objects to, causes others to object to, supports and/or elicits support for anyone who engages in such travel disruptions at U.S. airports in response to the enhanced security procedures.

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True. And if things were as bad as Mark is implying then when would not be having this conversation on an open public forum.

But Ray, things ARE that bad? Tell me what would happen if you stayed off the roads for the next ten years, opting to live off your land, farming your own food, using solar panels, etc. --just how long can you go without paying the property taxes before some government thugs close in on you and violate your forth amendment rights?

Driving IS a necessity, if one is to earn enough income to keep the Communists in the Tax Collector's office at bay.

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Mark, first, what you mention is not how one wins a battle today nor the war. And before it gets as bad as you seem to be stating we must fight our moral enemies on the intellectual front. If we do not want it to come to the point of a physical war then one needs to stand up and become a part of changing the profound underlying philosophy of this culture. If not now, then when? And if not now, then do not be surprised when the intellectual turns into the physical and death and destruction becomes a part of the battle.

On a side note, I doubt that the example used will convince many people that Objectivism works to lead people to freedom, prosperity and happines when it seems that all that can be obtained is squalor. Who, may I ask, are going to be convinced that Objectivist Ethics and Politics are sound when all they see is not the achievement of their values but misery? Ethics (especially Objectivist Ethics) is supposed to teach and or guide one toward the obtainment of their goals/values and happiness not away from them.

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The TSA's main purpose is to reassure the average joe that something is being done.

If that were really their purpose, do you think they would pick the most invasive and humiliating method they could think of?

TSA-like situation has been predicted by SF libertarian writer Robert Heinlein in his novel “The Puppet Masters". The narrative describes an alien invasion from outer space of parasites, which are living on people's backs, turning them into puppets. In order to discover such a puppets the whole population of USA had to strip almost completely naked. Whoever refused to strip had been shot on sight by the people militia, not government. That maybe sound a bit rough, but desperate times require desperate measures. I do understand that TSA may cause some inconvenience to sensitive people, but this is better then to be blown to pieces in the mid-flight, or to be hijacked to Algeria, not to mention events like 9/11. This is true that the ultimate solution should be the victory over terrorism, but until that we have to take all necessary precautions to increase safety.

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The TSA's main purpose is to reassure the average joe that something is being done.

If that were really their purpose, do you think they would pick the most invasive and humiliating method they could think of?

TSA-like situation has been predicted by SF libertarian writer Robert Heinlein in his novel “The Puppet Masters". The narrative describes an alien invasion from outer space of parasites, which are living on people's backs, turning them into puppets. In order to discover such a puppets the whole population of USA had to strip almost completely naked. Whoever refused to strip had been shot on sight by the people militia, not government. That maybe sound a bit rough, but desperate times require desperate measures. I do understand that TSA may cause some inconvenience to sensitive people, but this is better then to be blown to pieces in the mid-flight, or to be hijacked to Algeria, not to mention events like 9/11. This is true that the ultimate solution should be the victory over terrorism, but until that we have to take all necessary precautions to increase safety.

A governments job is not to primarily increase safety as that comes as a secondary consequence of defending their citizen's rights which is the primary reason they exist.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty." Benjamin Franklin

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TSA-like situation has been predicted by SF libertarian writer Robert Heinlein in his novel “The Puppet Masters". The narrative describes an alien invasion from outer space of parasites, which are living on people's backs, turning them into puppets. In order to discover such a puppets the whole population of USA had to strip almost completely naked. Whoever refused to strip had been shot on sight by the people militia, not government. That maybe sound a bit rough, but desperate times require desperate measures. I do understand that TSA may cause some inconvenience to sensitive people, but this is better then to be blown to pieces in the mid-flight, or to be hijacked to Algeria, not to mention events like 9/11. This is true that the ultimate solution should be the victory over terrorism, but until that we have to take all necessary precautions to increase safety.
A governments job is not to primarily increase safety as that comes as a secondary consequence of defending their citizen's rights which is the primary reason they exist.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty." Benjamin Franklin

Absolutely - and that cannot be stated strongly enough.

The facts of the matter are that these techniques do absolutely nothing to actually detect or catch the type of crime that we are facing. Schneier has written on this for years in the face of this escalating security theater. The two types of imaging scanners would not have detected the last several types of explosive materials attempts. The pat downs similarly do not address the methods that were attempted, and will only shift the methods to internal body cavities. I will not assume those in charge of setting the screening policies to be so ignorant as to not see this.

It is not the 3-year-old boys who are likely to attack, or the 24-year-old girls with nice bodies, or the elderly grandmother in a wheelchair. Yet we are spending limited resources on these individuals for reasons other than detecting terrorists.

Luckily we don't live in a sci-fi world with alien parasites attaching themselves to random people. We have a bit more of a pattern we could use to identify likely sources of attacks. We don't even use those effectively. When we look at several of the last attacks, the people who carried it out were under scrutiny prior and dismissed. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the underwear bomber) had been reported to the CIA via the embassy by his own father, he was on a "do not fly" list, and had been under scrutiny - yet he flew and had explosives. The Ft Hood shooter had been investigated several times and found not to be a threat. This is in the face of his own public statements and internet postings. I applaud the FBI is preventing the Portland attempt yesterday. They received intelligence, they followed through with it, and they stopped what could have been a horrific event.

What we have instead is a make work program hiring the lowest skilled workers to search for random objects in a reactionary process. Some hijacker uses box cutters, so anything with a blade cannot be taken on a plane. There go razor blades, pen knives, and nail clippers. Some hijacker plots to use a liquid explosive, so there goes your bottled water along with your yogurt, shampoo, and coffee. Some hijacker decides to try to get explosives by in his underwear, so there goes any attempt at modesty, privacy, or personal rights as we must now feel around the groin of any flier. We are searching for objects when we need to search for terrorists.

"In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life and they lost it all - security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility the Athens ceased to be free."

Edward Gibbon "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"

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Mark, first, what you mention is not how one wins a battle today nor the war. And before it gets as bad as you seem to be stating we must fight our moral enemies on the intellectual front. If we do not want it to come to the point of a physical war then one needs to stand up and become a part of changing the profound underlying philosophy of this culture. If not now, then when? And if not now, then do not be surprised when the intellectual turns into the physical and death and destruction becomes a part of the battle.

On a side note, I doubt that the example used will convince many people that Objectivism works to lead people to freedom, prosperity and happines when it seems that all that can be obtained is squalor. Who, may I ask, are going to be convinced that Objectivist Ethics and Politics are sound when all they see is not the achievement of their values but misery? Ethics (especially Objectivist Ethics) is supposed to teach and or guide one toward the obtainment of their goals/values and happiness not away from them.

Ray, the "Broken Arrow" phase comes at different times for each of us. True, the average American has enough resources to pay taxes and live a pretty decent life. Those who are further down the economic food chain who, through fortunate planning decades in advance, may own homes, but not be able to pay the exponentially rising taxes. Those of us must use the roads every day to earn federal reserve notes (the only payment method the tax collector accepts), since paying in potatoes and carrots would be laughed at and considered non-payment. Not all of us have time to wait for the intellectual revolution. Some of us are facing the guns of government today, tomorrow, next week or next month. And we much choose between the utter despair of dying homeless, or the act of raising the cost of state-sponsored terrorism in any way that we can.

I once wrote an article on OOL that basically put forth the idea that O'ism made me aware of moral injustice to the point where I sometimes wished I were a good little Socialist and just paid my taxes, worked 3-4 jobs and ruined my health from lack of sleep, cancer from popping pills to stay awake on the jobs and died prematurely in service of the State. Sometimes hanging on to your ideals when you lack the brains to earn the really big bucks puts you in a place that no decent man should be.

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Mark, my first paying job was picking strawberries by the bushel. My first paying job with a pay-stub was "flipping burgers" at McDonalds where I made $3.45 an hour. At this point I produce enough that I can pay for my family to live well enough that we enjoy life. One of the keys to achieving one's values is to stop coming up with excuses and instead come up with solutions.

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In every other instance these hand-searches would be considered sexual assault; passengers traveling are being treated like suspects. Further, shooting nude pictures in a scanner would be pornography. The pictures they show of the scanner results on TV are a "negative" of the scan...the actual display on the screen looks like a photograph of the subject naked. It’s highly invasive, and TSA workers do not inspire much trust. TSA has gone way beyond the pale in a clumsy attempt at security without really knowing what security is. I travel a lot and watching most of their processes its security theater, nothing more. Petty thuggery, threats and intimidation to do not a secure area make. Of course there is no abuse of authority like pretty abuse of authority and these guys manage that in spades in many cases.

Bu-bu-but the scanners will make lines move faster and make passengers safer...

Oh really, is that why passengers now have to remove not only their belts and shoes but all the paper in their pockets including currency?! So this whizz-bang detector can't tell a dollar bill from a hand grenade!? Oh I feel much safer.

The excuse for violating your 4th amendment rights is that this is private property therefore you have no rights only privileges. If that's the case the government (the repository of force) has no business being involved. If it is a privilege to fly on private property then that is an agreement between customer and salesman...this fake security would not last in that environment. Or is this a critical transportation asset that demands government oversight and is therefore subject to respecting constitutional rights? The conflict here is that the TSA doesn't want to be subject to that and are hiding behind the whole private property protection fallacy.

If the airport isn't a government facility then why do I have to waive my rights to a government entity to enter? I don’t think the private property argument holds an ounce of water until the private property owners pay back the public the money that they graciously accepted.

This is not a private property issue - it's an issue of government action. TSA are not private employees of the airlines or even the airport - they are agents of the federal government ("agents" used in the definition of employees). Furthermore, even if they were private security employees (as most airport screeners were pre-9/11), they are implementing federally mandated policies and procedures - meaning they still would be considered de facto government agents. As such, they should be bound by the limits of the authority granted in the US Constitution. Reasonable suspicion and probable cause are at play in every enforcement decision according to t law. The new standard appears to be that I'm now a suspect just because I elected to fly!?

The "enhanced" procedures are virtually identical to what one does when arresting someone. When we had someone in cuffs and were putting them in the back of the car and wanted to make sure there weren't any weapons. Guys we'd arrested. Not American citizens who are just enjoying their freedom to travel. The "pat-down" in lieu of the scan is completely ridiculous as well...A cop--like, real deal put you in jail police, can’t just walk up to anybody and "pat" them down without reason to believe that a crime is being committed, has been committed, or is about to be committed... so why do these clowns get to? Scanners have been likened to a strip search...interesting thing about strip searches, again, real police, cannot subject just any prisoner to a strip search...and these are people actually ACCUSED OF A CRIME, and in jail.

In this day and age saying that I have to travel by horse-back or not at all unless I waive my rights is disingenuous. Slowly boiling a frog indeed... Right to fly? Well, basically what the government has said is that people are now confined to the contiguous western hemisphere. If you can't get there on your own, by driving or riding a horse (cruise ships and trains are coming), you can't go there. "We can do anything to you that we like..... and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it." People do HAVE to fly. For work or because no other mode of transportation is economically viable. Let alone because it's the safest mode of travel, not because some idiot in a blue shirt is all in a lather over a Gerber Multi-tool, but because of the pilots and people that actually operate the airplanes.

Where do we draw the line between reasonable precautions and a violation of our Constitutional right to be secure in our person and papers? All of the photos I've seen of the scans (which weren't supposed to be saved!) show belt buckles and guns, sure, but that would have been detected by a working metal detector. So, why the imager? Some explosives don't require a timer or electrical device to detonate them, hence there will be no metal to detect and we need these imagers to see them under the clothes. Okay. But what about the common frisk (and no not a full up the cracks contraband frisk) that cops do every day? Not good enough? I'll run with that. But then we tell the bad guys that these imagers can't see into the body so they load up a suppository and sneak the stuff on board with ease. Go into the restroom mid-flight to retrieve the components and you have another successful attack. You told the bad guys how to do it, after all! Or, if we follow the logic of you have no rights here...all passengers are subjected to random cavity searches. You can't say no because it's an $11000 fine if you don't complete the screening. You can't say no because it's for the good of the nation. You can't say no because you've accepted everything else up to this point. As long as you expect others to provide your complete safety, you will never have it.

Don't misunderstand; I'm all for security that works...this isn't it, that’s the big sticking point. If pat-downs of this nature worked for the threat they were after then that would be a different kettle of fish. If the back-scatter machines detected what they were supposed to (outside the perfect conditions in the lab) then that wouldn't be a problem. The whole point is these enhanced measures are useless. They don't detect anything in body cavities.

I am not opposed to security screening. Reasonable and responsible screening methods are both prudent and acceptable. What I am opposed to is law-abiding US citizens being subjected to virtual strip searches and pat downs that border on sexual assault. This is taking "reasonable searches" well beyond traditional Constitutional limits, and is very seriously eroding the rights and freedoms that many (at one time or another) have sworn to defend.

As it is we are spending trillions trying to detect the item rather than the person we want. That’s why this is idiotic to the point of insanity...item focused security is a joke. Security that is focused on trying to stay ahead of inventive ways to hide things rather than looking at the long-range and short-range behavioral patterns of the people being screened is destined to fail. TSA needs stop looking for weapons and start looking for the enemy. The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security.

Behavioral assessment has nothing to do with physical profiling; it has to do with psychological profiling. TSA have behavioral assessment folks, the problem is they are using them badly...and by the way every person on the staff should be BA qualified...especially those that are actually talking to the passengers.

Why would a bad guy even need to get on a plane? Take ATL for instance...there were hundreds of people standing in line last time I went through there. A bad guy just needs to walk in and pop and he'd get far more folks than on any but the biggest of airplanes. Let's face facts WE'RE DOING IT WRONG!

I travel a lot and I loathe the TSA, and firmly believe that they should be issued big red shoes and honking noses. TSA is a joke, and isn’t committed to REAL security; rather they are committed to the appearance of security.

If the goal is to make air travel safer there are a couple proposed approaches that one can take to reduce the risk of a passenger bringing something potentially dangerous on board an aircraft. We can implement a common sense profiling program and screen people's belongings or you can virtually undress and/or grope every passenger and screen their belongings.

Since a certain portion of the population is going to waive the scan and then get the "limited" pat down on religious grounds...guess which interdiction method would work better? I will ponder that one while trying to think of ONE thing that the federal government does efficiently, quickly, or well.

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