Archive for December 26, 2009

The Incompetence of T.S.A

Created in the wake of September 11th, the Transportation Security Administration (T.S.A.) was the governments answer keeping our airports safe from terrorists. The idea was to replace the then privately run airport security system with a new government police force directed by the Department of Homeland Security. The T.S.A.’s role is to ensure the safety of air traffic nationwide and in turn has brought about new security protocols to keep America safe. With progress and safety, as we’re told, one must suffer through change and inconveniences until a new system is perfected. In other words, people should expect and accept the more invasive screening, inane regulations and of course incompetence to stay safe. Due to the overwhelming lack of intelligence behind the new protocols, training and technologies the T.S.A. has failed and has proven itself to be a virtually useless organization that infringes on the customers civil liberties with little, if any, improvements over security.

In 2006, 5 years after T.S.A. was created, internal reports gauging the progress of the airport security agency was leaked to the press. The report showed that 75% of fake bombs were successfully smuggled past the security screeners of LAX, 60% through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and 20% through the security at San Francisco International Airport. Of course not all of the tests were bad, from August 2003 to May 2004 security screeners were given descriptions of the undercover security personnel who were in charge of testing their security; it’s always easier to pass a test when you know who what and when to look for. Just like any other test, T.S.A can do well if they cheat. Most of the test results aren’t available to the public so we have no way of knowing if all of the enhanced security actually works.

To keep people safe the T.S.A. has used aggressive search policies so that bombs, which can be hidden under clothes and also be made out of liquids, can be found. There have been numerous reports about how the searches have been conducted including profiling, sexual pat downs, making women remove nipple rings, having mothers drink their children’s breast milk, stripping old men who have medical implants and of course people are subject to intimidation by security officials even when they don’t break the law. To make the searches even easier, body scanning machines have been placed in airports which are so sensitive that they can take and save nude pictures of people through their clothes (which didn’t stop the terrorist on the flight from Amsterdam on Christmas).

With power comes responsibility and while T.S.A. has power, their employees their employees have proven over and over again that their power will be will abused. Part of the job is to search checked in luggage for explosives but anything worth money can be “confiscated” to help improve an employee’s financial security. Numerous reports have surfaced where employees who conducted searches have stolen passenger’s valuable items from diamond rings to cash. Over 200 employees have been fired for theft as of February 15th 2008 according to T.S.A but upon research the number varies.

A few weeks ago T.S.A. officials were involved in another scandal when sensitive information regarding security procedures, including those involved with bomb detection, was released on the internet. The release of the information should be blamed on the complete incompetence of the employees and management who run the agency since it was just an oversight which should have been caught. Even though the information wasn’t classified, it still had operating procedures and showed that a person will receive some extra screening if they’re coming from certain countries.

So what is it that the T.S.A. does right? They don’t find bombs, they sexually abuse passengers, they steal from passengers and the management is incompetent. If the goal of the agency is to make people want to fly less they’re doing an excellent job. Personally I think they’re just they’re just there for show. If people think there’s someone keeping them safe, then people will accept being abused by authority figures. Once people accept and support how things are done in the airports, the same systems can be brought into every day places such as schools and businesses. With a little bit of research it becomes clear that terrorism is extremely rare and you’re more likely to die from prescription drugs than the people who T.S.A. defend you from.

The New Plantation

With all of the talk about Tiger Woods, climate change and the health care bill in the last few weeks the media, aside from some alternative news websites forgot to report on Obama’s newest Supreme Court victory. Who would have thought after all those speeches about change, the first black president would fight and succeed in striping away peoples humanity and effectively turn people into objects. Obama has once again showed his contempt for liberty and embraced terrorism, much like his predecessor Bush did, as a means to subjugate American citizens. On December 15th, the Supreme Court supported torture and rejected due process of enemy combatants

When people think about what an enemy combatant is, they usually picture a shady Arab man whose only purpose in life is to strap a bomb to himself and blow up buildings; in other words, a terrorist. These terrorists exist because, as Bush said, “they can’t stand our freedom” and will use whatever means necessary to destroy them. The government’s solution to stop these evil people is to declare terrorists enemy combatants, who don’t belong to a nation, and to strip them of any civil rights that they may have.

What’s this have to do with Americans living in the good ol’ U.S of A? It’s funny you should ask that. As I’ve written before, any American who doesn’t approve of the government is most likely a terrorist. As if knowing what the future held, congress passed a bill in 2006 stating that American Citizens can be enemy combatants. Just like the patriot act and homeland security, this is not intended for those Arab terrorists but for you and your neighbor who don’t approve of having the government control every aspect of their life. This ruling along combined with other policies will be used against you if you don’t stay in line. You don’t need that pesky due process do you?

It is a strange usage of double think to say that in order to spread our freedoms throughout the world that we need to strip freedom away from people. In order to maintain an orderly society there is no room for critical thinking or opposing thought. Those Americans who don’t embrace the freedom of conformity and reject the freedom to be a slave are destined to have those freedoms stripped from them and will be designated as an enemy combatant. It looks like, even with those freedoms that government has given us, since they’re no longer rights, hasn’t left us with much freedom and liberty at all.

We only need to look into the recent past to see what happens when people are considered less than human. A few years ago, Abu Ghraib created a firestorm in the world media with allegations that officials authorized the torture of the prisoners held there. The media pointed to pictures that were released of prisoners being abused but the real scope of the torture never made its way into the news. Prisoners were not only subjected to torture and stress positions they were subjected to beatings until their muscles were liquefied, forced sex with dogs and people, torturing of prisoners children and you can’t forget people being killed as a result of those things.

I like to use my imagination so I can picture all of the glorious possibilities of these kinds of policies hold for the nation. For instance, we could round up all of our inner city gang members and declare them enemy combatants. Once they have that status, we could ship them out to our farms and manufacturing plants where they could work and be productive members of society. We wouldn’t have to stop with gang members of course; we could get those pesky anti war protesters, political dissidents, communists, artists, writers and of course that next door neighbor who burns wood on spare the air days. Just think how productive we would be without our rights.

I’d like to end this on a positive note with a quote from President Obama, the man who is going to change the world. Be sure to read the wording he used in his speech about terrorism where he admits we’re fighting to support those who torture. Our moral compass demands that we spread the freedom to subjugate others.

“Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction.” President Obama

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