Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Videos for the Week

If you wonder why the Chinese are running circles around us in terms of economic growth, check out this time-lapse video of a hotel built in China . . . in six days.  Here, it would take six years just to get the permits.

Meanwhile, I was hoping someone would post a clip from the old Airplane 2 movie scene capturing the farce of airport security screening.  I'm already looking for some magnetic tape that will show up on these backscatter x-rays.  I'm planning to spell out "screw you TSA" on my stomach.


Discussions - 14 Comments

Steve, you're starting to sound like Thomas Friedman!

Hey, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't object to being seen virtually in the buff.

Steven, why don't you want America to win her war on terror??

Actually, I feel sorry for the poor TSA sap who has to sit in front of a screen all day looking at average Americans(I include myself in this catagory), nude.
I doubt it will be either an exciting or arousing prospect 90 percent of the time. In fact, the job itself might be a great punishment/treatment for pornographers.
That said, we really do need to get our airport security under control, and actually make it WORK, like in Isreal.

Yes, wouldn't that be an awful job and wouldn't having to pat down angry ordinary Americans be even worse.

Aside from resenting being humiliated, isn't part of the reason this rubs so many of us the wrong way (sorry) that it makes us all feel like criminals, as if we were the ones properly in prison? The whole TSA procedure means that we are all guilty until proven innocent. That is un-American.

I can't seem to find that old Saturday Night Live sketch with Sharon Stone going through security.

"The whole TSA procedure means that we are all guilty until proven innocent. That is un-American."

...unless the "we" is exclusively a group of others that doesn't include you (based on religion, ethnicity, skin tone (swarthiness), etc.), and they're locked up on an indefinite basis in places like Guantanamo or at black sites - then "guilty until proven innocent" can be adequately American, right, Kate?

When there is a plethora of terrorist incidents involving women of my type I will much more angry at them, the terrorists who fit my racial profile, than at the policing authorities (annoyingly, I just cannot think of a better term at the moment) who mistakenly take me aside to ask questions.

Are (or have) various policing authorities been taking people off the streets to Guantanamo or "black sites"? I thought only people pulled off battlefields went there. Am I wrong?

Here's a newer SNL sketch on the same theme:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4sgmg_s-n-l-airport-security_fun

So, I guess my sentence completion wasn't really out of line - I didn't think it would be. Guilty until proven innocent is a concept that, on principle, you oppose - the moment it might impact you.

"Are (or have) various policing authorities been taking people off the streets to Guantanamo or "black sites"? I thought only people pulled off battlefields went there. Am I wrong?"

As a matter of (brace yourself) fact, Kate, you are wrong about that.

I almost think I've pointed you to this stuff before (deja vu), but since I know you're an honest sort who will see where she's strayed from the facts and correct her way of thinking accordingly, let me steer you to the Seton Hall reports about the Gitmo detainees.

http://law.shu.edu/publications/guantanamoReports/guantanamo_report_final_2_08_06.pdf

Prof. Denbeaux and his assistants put the reports together using Dept. of Defense documents on the detainees, their apprehensions and subsequent detainment. Taking into account bounties [e.g. ""Get wealth and power beyond your dreams... You can receive millions of dollars helping the anti-Taleban forces catch al-Qaeda and Taleban murderers... This is enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life."] and the innumerable internecine battles and long-history old personal grudges in Iraq, it's pretty clear that those captured were done so with as much care and precision (for actually capturing terrorists) as they might as well have pulled the first few hundred names from the Baghdad phone book (not to give you all any ideas!).

If you are curious to explore further, I recommend the reports on the grotesquely ambiguous definitions of "battlefield" and similar terms, which allow for, yes, someone who was swept right from the street or the grocery store to be considered an "enemy combatant" captured on the "battlefield." And then there are the reports on the myth of recidivism (which itself assumes a previous guilt) by those Gitmo detainees who were - after months or even years of detainment without any charges being filed or even a kangaroo military tribunal - released back to their home countries.

Oh yes, and since you mentioned the "black sites," I'm sure you recall the case of Maher Arar, right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maher_Arar

Impact me? My sarcasm was lost on you. The day nice little old ladies are considered a threat to peace and the general welfare is the day all of society's norms have collapsed. My type is no more of a threat than is gentle irony. Where do you keep your sense of humor?

I don't see how you expect me to take seriously as unbiased authority your Seton Hall guy, "Counsel to two Guantanamo detainees". Please.

And I must accept Maher Arar story, too? I don't.

Maybe you are just kidding.

"Impact me? My sarcasm was lost on you."

What were you being sarcastic about, Kate? [Surely you know by now to be exceedingly careful when using sarcasm online, as it often can go unnoticed by even the most savvy readers, such as my elitist self.]

Were you sarcastic when you said:

"part of the reason this rubs so many of us the wrong way (sorry) that it makes us all feel like criminals, as if we were the ones properly in prison? The whole TSA procedure means that we are all guilty until proven innocent. That is un-American."

??

You certainly made it sound as though you have been (or might likely be) impacted by the TSA scanners and/or body-groping, or that the idea that it could impact you and your type, and that bothered you. So, you were sarcastic there and you don't really think it's a guilty-until-proven-innocent kind of gauntlet, or you don't really think it's un-American, or you just don't care about it at all?

Is treating people as if they are guilty until proven innocent un-American or not? Or is it a situational principle that is only meant as an absolute when it serves YOU and your type?

[Or were you being sarcastic when you asked "Are (or have) various policing authorities been taking people off the streets to Guantanamo or "black sites"? I thought only people pulled off battlefields went there." You sounded sincere, but who knows...]

I explained myself.

Our airport security is cumbersome and invasive because it is looking for harmful stuff, not for harmful persons.

This is from the Belmont Club and I like his point:

"While not neglecting physical security, the Israeli airline El Al focuses on precisely the factor Captain Sully described: the person flying. The passengers are interrogated by trained personnel who are monitoring body language and reactions. This is the El Al “mind scanner.” Israel Insider explains:

Upon arrival, travelers are subjected to rigorous and time-consuming questioning. While passengers are asked perfunctory questions like — “Who packed your bags?” and “Do you have any weapons?” — inspectors are really looking for travelers giving evasive answers or hiding information. Passengers can be interrogated separately by three different screeners.

By questioning passengers, guards can quickly spot those who appear nervous, Leo Gleser, a former El Al security officer and head of security consulting firm ISDS recently told The Associated Press. Gleser said passengers are profiled — while most Israeli Jews quickly pass through security inspection, Arabs and certain foreigners are singled out for intense grilling.

In some ways the El Al system is the complete philosophical opposite of the TSA approach.Whereas El Al uses a complex profiling system supplemented by intelligence resources, U.S. airport security throws the signals emanating from the passengers away, lest they be accused of exactly what the Israelis do, which is distinguish between people based on their behavior, background and past."

Why needlessly bother the innocent? TSA procedures treat everyone as equally guilty as in presuming the guilt of every traveler. The vast majority of us are innocent and are all being treated as if guilty so that we can have solidarity with those more likely to be guilty than we ourselves are. There has to be a better way. This is absurd.

But Kate, the Israeli method you describe depend on having skilled employees asking the questions and gauging the responses. Based on most of the TSA employees I've encountered, gaping slack-jawed at a monitor is about all they're qualified to do.

John Moser, I take your point and grieve over it.

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