Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The “Essential” TSA: Ignoring Terrorists to Grope Us

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Last week’s shut-down charade proved yet again how vast a gulf separates us from the sociopaths in office. For starters, who among us would hire even one “non-essential” worker, let alone 800,000 of them? Close to a million sponges soaking up our money for activities their employer readily admits are superfluous.

That’s depressing enough, and a persuasive plea for revolution: when the colonists went to war over “swarms of officers … harass[ing] our people and eat[ing] out their substance,” the parasites numbered considerably less than 800,000. (Estimates put England’s population in the 1770s at about 6.4 million; its American colonies added another 3 million souls. So even if the British Empire employed the enormous proportion of bloodsuckers the Amerikan one does, we’re talking 94,000 bums, tops.)

But it gets worse. Survey the catalog of “workers” the Feds designate “essential” and see whether you, the taxpayer footing Leviathan’s exorbitant bills, consider any of these leeches or their “jobs” indispensable. 

Then again, we might wish for mere frivolity, however wasteful: I defy you to find a single entry on this list of so-called necessities that isn’t downright harmful. “Essential” to bomb foreigners (“Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a trip to Iraq this week, assured troops they will be paid”)? I think not. “Essential” to rob taxpayers (“IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said that if there is a government shutdown, the tax-return due date will remain April 18…”), yet issuing their refunds isn’t (“…But he said there would be delays in … providing refunds …”)? Boobus, behold your master’s priorities. 

Likewise, Our ruthless Rulers so enjoy groping and ogling us at airports that they declared the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) “essential.” This insult becomes even more infuriating when we recall that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was simultaneously and yet again warning them about the agency’s dereliction and danger.

Last Wednesday, “Stephen M. Lord, director of homeland security and justice issues” at the GAO testified before Congress. He discussed a report the GAO had released last May documenting at least 23 “occasions” on which the TSA “failed … to stop subsequent terror suspects who boarded planes at U.S. airports.” Apparently, its pedophiles are too busy molesting six-year-old girls to intercept “an individual who later pleaded guilty to providing material support to Somali terrorists [and who] boarded a plane at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport en route to Somalia.” Likewise, the TSA’s goons persecute the Easter Bunny but ignored “an individual who later pleaded guilty to providing material support to al Qaeda [as he boards] a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport en route to Pakistan to receive terrorist training to support his efforts to attack the New York subway system.”

The specific boondoggle that was supposed to catch these “terrorists” (and remember the government defines the crime so loosely that little old ladies who contribute to “charities” fronting for Al Qaeda commit it) is neither new nor newly exposed as ineffective. Formerly known as Behavior Detection and now as SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques), it pretends to read your mind from your “body language.” Yes, the TSA in its tireless pursuit of extreme silliness has resurrected the pop psychology of the 1960s. 

Need I mention it wasn’t content to raise the dead without squandering more of the fortune the IRS extorts from us? Almost $212 million this year, to be exact, with Obama demanding another $232 million for FY2012’s Behavior Detection alone; the TSA’s overall budget robs us of $8.1 billion annually.

Those staggering sums don’t include the taxes wasted on “researching” Behavior Detection’s nonsense. Among those benefitting from the largesse was Paul Ekman, a professor at — you guessed it — the University of California. He hypes “microexpressions,” facial movements that supposedly reveal our innermost thoughts and feelings though they last only a nanosecond. The New Yorker, the magazine that once published E.B. White and Vladimir Nabokov, has sunk low enough to run a story on this crank; when he demonstrated “microexpressions” for the credulous reporter, he required videos of his victims, which he played and replayed, stopped, and re-wound, to capture the incriminating expressions.

Even if “microexpressions” were valid (there’s no evidence they are, according to the Nazis at the Department of Homeland Security — and believe me, if they could imprison us for looking angry or impatient, they would), notice the indispensability of cameras, the rewind button, and time for study — none of which the TSA’s vaunted “Behavior Detection Officers” boast. Rather, they roam the concourses pestering people, then snitch to the cops on anyone who frowns the wrong way. 

One such miscreant was a passenger wearing a “cheap brown jacket [who] stood slumped in line, staring at the ground,” Ekman wrote in propaganda the Washington Post obligingly published. “His hands were fidgety, reaching repeatedly into his inside jacket pocket, or patting it from the outside.” Naturally, the “behavior-detection officers I was with at Boston's Logan International Airport” deemed this suspicious after Ekman’s training and called the cops. Under interrogation (of course, Ekman doesn’t call it that), the poor man confessed that he was “on the way to the funeral of his brother …That was the reason for the bowed head. The frequent chest-patting was to reassure himself that he had his boarding pass.” Neither Ekman nor the TSA sees anything amiss in governmental agents’ hassling citizens — even grieving ones.

How many sorrowing siblings — or folks otherwise stressed -— would we find among the 150,000 passengers the TSA’s “behavior-detection” thugs “selected” for “secondary screening” from May 2004 and August 2008, or the 14,000 of those “referred to law enforcement,” or the 1100 the cops subsequently arrested?

On the other hand, guess how many of those 1100 were charged with terrorism. Yep: none. And it’s not as if the TSA lacked opportunity to ferret out bad guys; as the GAO’s report puts it, “we examined the travel of key individuals allegedly involved in six terrorist plots that have been uncovered by law enforcement agencies. We determined that at least 16 of the individuals allegedly involved in these plots moved through 8 different airports where the SPOT program had been implemented … on at least 23 different occasions.”

The TSA: yet another “essential” evisceration of the Constitution.

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