Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Homeland Security guy...

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, and other agencies working within the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) model, want to implement mobile mind-reading units everywhere. And by everywhere, I mean not just at airports (emphasis mine):

The FAST program has now completed its first round of field tests on the public. According to DHS, one of the program’s primary goals is to bring security to “open” areas–such as Metro, Amtrak and mass transit systems other than aviation–where threats could go undetected. The Mobile Module, according to DHS, “could be used at security checkpoints such as border crossings or at large public events such as sporting events or conventions.”

In the field tests, DHS tested the Mobile Module in at least one location in the Northeast. “It is not an airport,” Verrico told Nature magazine, “but it is a large venue that is a suitable substitute for an operational setting.” Whether these subjects knew they were participating in a FAST study is unclear.

EPIC claims that DHS documents reveal efforts to “collect, process, or retain information on” members of the public who likely did not give their consent. “We do think this is a program with great privacy risks,” says John Verdi, director of EPIC’s Open Government Project. Back in 2008, the DHS conducted a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), but when FAST moved into its public testing phase, Verdi says, “Our requests have revealed that the agency did not perform a PIA. In our view that is against the federal law.”

"...Large public events such as sporting events or conventions.”

Never mind the Fourth Amendment.

Never mind the fact that some people, i.e. sociopaths (the very people who can commit violent crimes like terrorism without experiencing guilt beforehand or remorse afterwards), don't always present with psychological indicators--with physical or biochemical "tells"--when they deceive, thus rendering these expensive, intrusive, James-Bond-wannabe mind-reading units as good as useless.

Let's be clear-eyed here: this is about three things, and three things alone.

(1) Money. Not for you or me, silly. Money for the security contractor(s) who are selling these ridiculous apparatuses to the DHS (and as flush with tax dollars as that agency is, they are an attractive mark) and, of course, money for the campaign coffers of the various politicians enabling this unconstitutional rubbish. Oh, and for any stray former government official who has the new job title of "consultant".

(2) Fearmongering, because when people are afraid, they will more likely believe what the authorities tell them, and they will (apparently) put up with almost anything.

(3) Conditioning. Fifteen years ago, if you'd told me that law-abiding Americans wanting to fly somewhere in their own country would in the near future be lining up like cattle at the slaughter; taking off their shoes; allowing themselves to be irradiated while someone viewed their unclothed bodies on a screen; allowing themselves to be aggressively groped--and their children to be touched, by someone who is not a parent or doctor, on the parts of their bodies they are otherwise taught are private and personal--I'd have said you were making things up.

It may have taken a little time, but the DHS and TSA have succeeded in conditioning most of the traveling public. They've largely got the media on their side, too--"It's just to keep us safe!"--and they've been slowing ramping up the intrusiveness in the past couple of years, happily allotting billions of our tax dollars to buy all these whiz-bang machines and enrich their well-connected manufacturers, reacting with horror--and even lawsuits--when the occasional civil libertarian cries out after having a stranger grope and penetrate her at the airport: "How dare you call our agents rapists! Even though they raped you!"

(And only Pravda--yes, that Pravda--would publish her account.)

It needs to be repeated, and often: The TSA has not thwarted a SINGLE terrorism attempt. Not a one. The attempts were thwarted by good investigative work on the ground, long before anyone with terrorism in mind got near an airport, and alert, motivated passengers.

Whither our civil liberties?

Also at TSA News


  1. Thanks for posting, Deborah.

    As you know, I wanted to post this info last year at that other place, but I self-censored (as I so often did) because the know-it-alls over there thought civil liberties were just so passé.

    They already didn't want to admit that this country is on a very dark path -- because now that Obama is in office, Everything Is Okay, don'tchyaknow?! If this had been happening under Bush, of course, it would've been a different story.

    Anyway, important stuff. But don't count on the sheeple lifting their snouts from the grass anytime soon.

  2. It is so true that freedoms not exercised erode. Thank you for all your efforts to shake complacency. I think folks are waking up....slowly but surely.