Saturday, April 16, 2005


The difference between shocked and appalled

According to a soon-to-be released GAO report, "Security at U.S. airports is no better under federal control than it was before the September 11 attacks." CNN reports:
"A lot of people will be shocked at the billions of dollars we've spent and the results they're going to see, which confirm previous examinations of the Soviet-style screening system we've put in place," Rep. John Mica, R-Florida, told The Associated Press on Friday.
A lot of people, perhaps, but not me. I've always figured that this was security theater, a big show to generate false feelings of security while conditioning everyone to accept the right wing mantra that our personal liberties must take a back seat to security.

"Shocking" means an extreme form of unpleasant surprise. I'm not in the least surprised to have my suspicions confirmed that my security has not been improved by having the airport keystone cops paw through my briefcase and threaten to haul me into an interrogation room if I don't take off my shoes.

I am however appalled. If we have to undergo the long lines and indignities for significantly improved security, that would have been one thing. (I find the removal of my shoes particularly galling -- it's the classic power trip, a gesture of submission to authority in the primal sense of making oneself physically vulnerable to the authority figure.) But to do it as an unwilling participant in a vast propaganda exercise...

I'm likewise appalled, but not shocked, that the administration dumped this story in the Friday news cycle so it would be reported on Saturday -- the day of my (and MSM's) lowest reader/viewer -ship.


Don't worry. This news will be circulating on the 'net for a while.
Yep, except for one of the main things: keeping people out of cockpits has obviously improved.

"I've always figured that this was security theater, a big show to generate false feelings of security while conditioning everyone to accept the right wing mantra that our personal liberties must take a back seat to security."

Do you have one actual example of your personal liberties being trampled on? Taking off your shoes isn't much of a big deal, IMO. Or is this just another case of "Bush driving our country into the ground?" All generalizations, no meat.

BTW, How did the administration "dump" this story on a Friday? The House member who chairs the House aviation subcommittee told this stuff to the AP.
Here's a few things I'm being deprived of in the sake of homeland security, which I wouldn't care too much about if the damn thing was actually working:
1. About a hundred dollars per international plane ticket in "homeland security" related taxes,
2. About an additional 2 hours with my loved ones at my point of departure/arrival, surrendered to the incredibly long wait for the incredibly short screening,
3. The ability to bring tweezers, or my shaving kit, or my nail clippers in my carry-on, for fear that I might fashion a new WMD out of them.

And as for my personal freedoms being violated, Consider the 4th and 8th ammendments to the constitution. Making me take my shoes and belt off, while they search for my concealed nose hair trimmers seems to me to be an unreasonable search, especially in the light of how little it has done to improve security. And paying a 100 dollar tax on a 169 dollar ticket to london for something that doesn't work is definitely an excessive fine in my book, although I'm sure the experts would disagree with me.

If I were a WASP in a red state with no airport, I would probably be frustrated with all those bleeding heart liberals that can't do anything but complain about this president. But I'm not a white guy, and I live in NJ, and I use the airport very often. As a result, I have to see this stuff about 3 times a month, and believe me, when the GAO comes and tells me this stuff isn't worth the money or the time, you bet your ass I'm going to want to complain until they dismantle the whole thing and get it right.
Oh yeah, people in those backward red states are still traveling by horse or mule.

It's your choice to travel by air. Whether you are doing for personal reasons, or for a job, it's still your choice. If you don't like the lines or the indignity of having to take off your shoes, you can travel by car or train. If you are flying, you play by their rules whether you like it or not, including paying large fees, having to check your razor and tweezers, and going through the security screening.

BTW, back to the main post, say a passenger does sneak a gun on a plane. What do they gain? They won't be allowed into the cockpit. They won't be able to bring the plane down. They may be able to shoot a few passengers, but if a person really wants to kill people with a gun, they could do it in a million places much easier, such in a mall. I would bet that the focus of screening agents is bomb material that could be used to blow up the plane. I imagine the security to detect bomb residue is actually quite good. But we'll see when the report comes out, what types of illegal stuff is still being snuck through security.
Simple question for you, Mr. Smith, are you happy with current homeland security protocols? As a conservative, don't you think the government is spending TOO MUCH of our tax money for TOO FEW results? I think its easy to make this a red/blue - Bush lover/Bush hater argument, but that's missing the point. Maybe its just about a way to deal with homeland security that isn't working. People aren't wrong for disagreeing with the president when he can't show results, but they shouldn't knock him for the stuff that has worked... No access to cockpit = good, Billions of dollars spent for the GAO to tell us there has not been significant improvement = not good!
In my opinion, the 9/11 rally behind the flag is over, Mr. Smith. If the government wants us to keep rooting for it, it's going to have to show us that it can keep doing better.
Mr. Anonymous,

Of course I think the gov't is spending too much money with too few results. I would say that about almost every gov't program - and I have a big problem with the increase in gov't size under Pres. Bush. If you'll look at my first post, I was taking issue with the idea that somehow our rights our being trampled on as part of some right-wing agenda and with the idea that this was some Friday media dump by the administration. My second post was more about violated rights, with a smidgeon about what constitutes good airline security (keep out all bombs should be the main priority). I will wait for the report to be released, but if bomb material is getting through, surely we need improved security. If a gun is getting through here and there, that's bad, but nowhere near as bad as something that can take a plane down.

If anyone was making the issue black/white or red/blue, it wasn't me... Oscar Madison aka ? was charging that homeland security is a "vast propaganda exercise" and part of the "right wing mantra that our personal liberties must take a back seat to security." That's just not true. The security may suck, but the post was all about blaming this (and everything else) on Pres. Bush.
Mr. Smith -

Security "theater" is palatable because it creates the impression of security, but is welcomed by the airlines because it prevents private exchange of tickets, and increased airport spending.

Suppose a sufficiently motivated commercial interest figures out a way to turn a profit on "security" checks at state borders. Which checks and balance in the process that gave us airline "security" could stop them? The answer is none - none of the constitutional checks and balances had a chance to operate with respect to our airline security regime.
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