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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Airport Security?

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” — Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Thomas Sowell writes in; “No country has better airport security than Israel-- and no country needs it more, since Israel is the most hated target of Islamic extremist terrorists. Yet, somehow, Israeli airport security people don't have to strip passengers naked electronically or have strangers feeling their private parts.”

“Does anyone seriously believe that we have better airport security than Israel? Is our security record better than theirs?”

"Security" may be the excuse being offered for the outrageous things being done to American air travelers, but the heavy-handed arrogance and contempt for ordinary people that is the hallmark of this administration in other areas is all too painfully apparent in these new and invasive airport procedures.”

“Can you remember a time when a Cabinet member in a free America boasted of having his "foot on the neck" of some business or when the President of the United States threatened on television to put his foot on another part of some citizens' anatomy?”

What other administration has had an Attorney General call the American People "cowards"? And refuse to call terrorists Islamic? What other administration has had a Secretary of Homeland Security warn law enforcement officials across the country of security threats from people who are anti-abortion, for federalism or are returning military veterans?

As for the excuse of "security," this is one of the least security-minded administrations we have had. When hundreds of illegal immigrants from terrorist-sponsoring countries were captured crossing the border from Mexico-- and then released on their own recognizance within the United States, that tells you all you need to know about this administration's concern for security.

When captured terrorists who are not covered by either the Geneva Convention or the Constitution of the United States are nevertheless put on trial in American civilian courts by the Obama Justice Department, that too tells you all you need to know about how concerned they are about national security.

The rules of criminal justice in American courts were not designed for trying terrorists. For one thing, revealing the evidence against them can reveal how our intelligence services got wind of them in the first place, and thereby endanger the lives of people who helped us nab them.

What do the Israeli airport security people do that American airport security does not do? They profile. They question some individuals for more than half an hour, open up all of their luggage and spread the contents on the counter — and they let others go through with scarcely a word. And it works. I know, I have experienced this process.

Meanwhile, this administration is so hung up on political correctness that they have turned "profiling" into a bugaboo. They would rather have electronic scanners look under the clothes of nuns than to detain a Jihadist imam for some questioning.

George Will writes in Jewish World Review; “Fifty years ago, William F. Buckley wrote a memorable complaint about the fact that Americans do not complain enough. His point, like most of the points he made during his well-lived life, is, unfortunately, more pertinent than ever. Were he still with us, he would favor awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he received in 1991, to John Tyner, who, when attempting to board a plane in San Diego, was provoked by some Transportation Security Administration personnel.

“Government is instituted to protect preexisting natural rights essential to the pursuit of happiness. Today, that pursuit often requires flying, which sometimes involves the wanding of 3-year-olds and their equally suspect teddy bears.

What the TSA is doing is mostly Security Theater, a pageant to reassure passengers that flying is safe. Reassurance is necessary if commerce is going to flourish and if we are going to get to grandma's house on Thursday to give thanks for the Pilgrims and for freedom. If grandma is coming to our house, she may be wanded while barefoot at the airport because democracy — or the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment; anyway, something — requires the amiable nonsense of pretending that no one has the foggiest idea what an actual potential terrorist might look like.”

Will continues; “But enough, already. Enough trivializing important values — e.g., air safety - by monomaniacal attempts to maximize them. Disproportion is the common denominator of almost all of life's absurdities. Automobile safety is important. But attempting to maximize it would begin (but by no means end) with forbidding left turns.”

“Bureaucracies try to maximize their missions. They can't help themselves. Adult supervision is required to stand athwart this tendency, yelling "Stop!"

“Again, Buckley: "Every year, whether the Republican or the Democratic Party is in office, more and more power drains away from the individual to feed vast reservoirs in far-off places; and we have less and less say about the shape of events which shape our future."

When TSA was established there were those in Congress and the White House that implored Congress not to bring the TSA employees into the federal civil service system. One of the most outspoken senators against federalizing the TSA employees was Zell Miller (D-GA). Miller foresaw a great bureaucracy on the horizon if TSA screeners were made a part of the civil service system. He said they would not be accountable to the public and would not be liable for their actions. Miller was right. Today there are reported to be over 66,000 TSA employees including 3,500 administrative personnel.

While some airports have eschewed the use of TSA screeners for private contractors they still need to follow the rules, regulations and procedures dictated by the TSA. They also need to accept the scanners forced upon them from Washington.

The Hill Newspaper reports; “Companies manufacturing the airport body scanners at the center of a national controversy are well-armed on K Street to battle legislative restrictions on their technologies.”

“The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has received more than 600 complaints about the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) pat-downs and scanners, which were deemed “a virtual strip search” by Laura W. Murphy, the director of the group’s Washington legislative office.”

“People are concerned about the radiation, the abuse and the lack of training,” said Murphy, who wants Congress to “engage in aggressive oversight.”

“The ACLU is supporting legislation proposed in April 2009 by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) that would limit the use of the body scanners while banning storage of images they take. Murphy said the ACLU is also considering litigation against the new screening procedures.”

“Lobbyists for the body-scanner companies are also keeping an eye on a bill introduced last week by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) that could stop the new screening procedures.”

“Companies like L-3 Communications, the defense contractor, are providing several of the scanners under a nearly $165 million TSA contract won earlier this year, are well-prepared for the fight.”

“Linda Hall Daschle, a former administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration and wife of ex-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), is one of L-3’s best-connected lobbyists.”

“The president of LHD Associates, Daschle has earned $100,000 in lobbying fees so far this year working on “matters related to advanced imaging technology” — body scanners — among other air-travel issues, according to lobbying disclosure documents.”  See my blog post Scan or Scam for more information on these companies.

Overall, L-3 has spent more than $1.4 million on lobbying since 2004, according to disclosure records. It also has a large political action committee, which made more than $460,000 in political contributions to candidates and other committees during the 2010 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.

The Hill report continues; “TSA’s other body-scanner contractor is Rapiscan Systems Inc. In 2009, the company was awarded an agreement that could be worth up to $173 million. And like L-3, Rapiscan has a notable K Street presence.”

“Holland & Knight, Rapiscan’s outside lobbying firm, has earned $480,000 in fees from the company since May 2008, according to lobbying disclosure records. David Whitestone, a former aide to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), and John Bucher, once the chief lobbyist for United Airlines, are lobbying for the company. Overall, Rapiscan has spent close to $3.6 million on lobbying since 2007, according to records.”

Rapiscan attracted attention earlier this year when it was revealed that former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a vocal proponent of body scanners, had consulted for the company. Peter Kant, Rapsican’s executive vice president, said Chertoff was no longer working for the company.

Rapiscan’s parent company, OSI Systems Inc., has an active political action committee. During the 2010 campaign, it made more than $60,000 in campaign contributions to candidates and committees, according to FEC records. It should be noted that Rapiscan is located in Torrance, California in Democrat Congresswoman Jane Harman’s District (CA-36). It should be noted that Harman chairs the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment of the Homeland Security Committee.

What we now have is a cabal of “K” Street lobbyists, defense contractors, ex government official consultants and money hungry politicians in charge of our security. At least when it was only the “Military-Industrial Complex” we got some Good planes, warships and weapons systems and our rights were not violated. Now we are getting junk and a bureaucracy that thinks nothing of violating our civil rights.

More than two centuries ago, Edmund Burke warned about the dangers of new people with new power. This administration, only halfway through its term, has demonstrated that in many ways.

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