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Archive for the ‘TSA’ Category

Living while Muslim

Posted by Charles II on March 1, 2012

From the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

From DemocracyNow :

AWUD WALID: Well, being in Michigan, and our national organization, CAIR—and we have an office in New York—we’ve joined other advocates in calling for [NYC Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly to resign. Ray Kelly, as well as his deputy chief, have completely trampled upon the spirit of the United States Constitution and wasted millions of taxpayer dollars with having agents even overseas, much less going through in Connecticut and New Jersey, spying on where Muslims eat kabob to bean pie. A

…Michigan is a very unique state, because under current law, the U.S. Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection has 100-mile jurisdiction from the international border in which they can stop anyone without predication and ask for them to produce proof of citizenship. Because of the Great Lakes being considered international borders, or part of the international border, the entire state of Michigan is within the jurisdiction of U.S. Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection. Therefore, we have instances in Southwest Detroit where Latinos, born and raised here in Detroit, have been stopped and been detained for hours and asked to provide citizenship. We have issues of Muslims at the border and re-entering the border, have been stopped by CBP and asked questions, such as, “Do you pray? How many times a day do you pray? Which mosque do you go to? Who is your imam?” even asking theological questions about how they believe or interpret certain verses of the—in our holy text. So we believe that Customs and Border Patrol—I mean, Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Border Patrol are completely out of order right now, and they are engaged in racial and religious profiling.[emphasis added]

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is one of the most poorly understood bits of the US Constitution. For a discussion, see Cornell Law. Here, the US is clearly acting to inhibit the free exercise of Islam, which falls under strict scrutiny (i.e., the Court is more inclined to hear such cases than, e.g., a case of incidental aid provided to a religious school). The idea that people would be asked theological questions by government agents is mind-boggling. And since they can be stopped anywhere in Michigan by ICE agents, the whole (large) Muslim community in Michigan is subjected to what the rest of us experience in airports. Imagine the firestorm if such things were done to Christians or Jews.

Posted in religion, totalitarianism, TSA | Comments Off on Living while Muslim

Mica Wants To Privatize Pornoscans, Not End Them

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 22, 2010

David Dayen has the scoop, discussing how John Mica’s (R-Florida) sudden opposition to Opt-Out Day reveals the true aims of Mica and of Republicans in general:

Now, Mica’s long-term goal is to get the TSA out of the transportation screening business. He wants to leverage public anger against “gate-rape” (h/t Marcy) to basically privatize the operation. I haven’t met anyone who thinks that would lead to a kinder and gentler security procedure, however. Mica and his cadres don’t really want to end the security state – they want to profit from it. Some of the civil libertarians in their midst may have different ideas, but when push comes to shove, their principles are being used by establishment Republicans to 1) hurt President Obama’s TSA and 2) legislate it out of existence, with private security taking over at airports.

Hell, the only reason TSA exists is because Bush’s brain Karl Rove and his fellow Republicans thought it would be a good way to try and break the Federal unions, using “national security” as the pretext. It must really burn their butts that TSA workers are now allowed to unionize. The fact that TSA employees now can join unions, just like their Customs and Border Patrol and DC Capitol Police brethren and cistern, is likely a big reason why Republicans who just loved TSA when Bush was in charge are now using the pornoscan controversy as a reason to dump TSA (but not the pornoscans).

By the way, if you’re looking for more effective and less costly ways to do screening than don’t involve repeated doses of radiation along with loss of dignity, this Mother Jones article has a few suggestions.

Posted in 2010, abuse of power, big money, privatization, Republicans, security theater, TSA, unions | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Haaretz: Israeli Security Firm Failed To Spot Would-Be Underpants Bomber

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 11, 2010

One of the recurring themes we hear in the wake of any airline-related terrorism is that it would never have happened in Israel, because they’re too good at spotting potential terrorists to allow any onto planes.

That bit of conventional wisdom might need a touch of revising:

The Israeli firm ICTS International (not to be confused with ICTS Europe, which is a different company), and two of its subsidiaries are at the crux of an international investigation in recent days, as experts try to pinpoint the reasons for the security failure that enabled Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board Northwest flight 253 and attempt to set alight explosives hidden in his underwear.

A Haaretz investigation has learned that the security officers and their supervisor should have suspected the passenger, even without having early intelligence available to them.

There’s more at the Haaretz link.

Posted in israel, terrorism, transportation, TSA | Comments Off on Haaretz: Israeli Security Firm Failed To Spot Would-Be Underpants Bomber

Security Theater

Posted by MEC on December 18, 2008

Security expert Bruce Schneier coined the term “security theater” to describe the things the government does to make people feel that the government is keeping them safe, even though those things are pretty much pointless. (Making us take our shoes off to get through airport security checkpoints is a prime example.)

Schneier will be talking about security theater on 60 Minutes this Sunday. You want to see it.

Posted in Bruce Schneier, security theater, TSA | 3 Comments »

I Was Wondering How They Got Sonia Pitt To Take The Fall For Molnau

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 2, 2008

Looks to me like they may have pulled strings to get her this gig:

Sonia Pitt, the MnDOT emergency response executive fired for taking an unauthorized, state-paid trip to Washington during the Interstate 35W bridge disaster, is now working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Pitt, 44, of Red Wing, confirmed Wednesday that she is working for Homeland Security’s Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) at its headquarters in Arlington, Va. Her job title is “Transportation Security Specialist.” Pitt declined to discuss her job responsibilities, her length of employment with the federal agency or her salary.

But of course, now that the cat’s out of the bag, what was given is now taken away:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has fired Sonia Pitt, the former MnDOT emergency response executive who lost her state job for failing to return to Minnesota in the days after the I-35W bridge collapse.

Pitt was hired two months ago to work in Washington as a security specialist for the agency’s Transportation Security Administration.


Thursday was the first time the TSA had contacted the Minnesota agency about Pitt’s dismissal, said MnDOT spokeswoman Lucy Kender.

“All I can say is, they called us this afternoon for the first time regarding this issue, about Sonia Pitt’s termination status,” Kender said.

Granted, this really could just be standard employee vetting. But vetting like this is supposed to be done before the person is hired, not after. She may well have been waved into the gig thanks to the influence of her boyfriend Daniel Ferezan, the guy with whom she was vacationing when the bridge fell down. (He’s a bigwig with the Federal Highway Administration, by the way.) My own wild-assed guess is that word got out a couple of weeks ago about the first Strib piece being in the works, and so an “investigation” was started by TSA after the fact to provide a cover story.

I reckon the Pawlenty machine apparently must figure that there’s not much danger of Pitt’s writing a tell-all book about her experiences, so she’s expendable. Either that, or there may be another payoff we don’t know about yet waiting in the wings for her.

Posted in 'starving the beast', abuse of power, Carol Molnau, infrastructure, Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, TSA, WTF? | 5 Comments »

The Terror Watch List Is Worse Than Worthless

Posted by MEC on July 14, 2008

Every time Jim Robinson travels by air, he has to convince the TSA that he’s not a terrorist, just because the name “Jim Robinson” is on the ever-growing “watch list” that the government insists will keep us safe from terrorist attacks.

What makes Mr. Robinson’s ordeal particularly absurd — and appalling — is that he has a top-secret security clearance. He was Assistant Attorney General in the Clinton Administration.

It’s possible that someone who passed the vetting process for such an important position is now a terrorist. But it’s even less probable than my becoming Ralph Nader’s running mate.

For every high-profile individual who is inconvenienced because of the watch list, there are thousands of people who are abused because of it. For example:

Chicago-area computer consultant Akif Rahman, who was born in Springfield, Ill., said he has been detained at least seven times after traveling abroad. During one such incident in May, he said, he was held for five hours, shackled to a chair and kicked by a Customs Service agent after being stopped at a U.S. checkpoint on the Canadian border.

The watch list doesn’t make us safer: it makes us afraid. It’s not about national security, it’s about the Bush government’s nearly unchecked ability to abuse its power to keep us afraid and docile.

It’s a distraction from real efforts to prevent terrorist acts, and it’s a threat to our democracy. Getting rid of it needs to be high on the agenda of the next president and Congress.

Posted in abuse of power, no-fly list, TSA, wrong way to go about it | 7 Comments »

Unclear of the Concept: TSA Retires the Trophy

Posted by MEC on May 14, 2008


Last year, Congress finally passed a law requiring that air cargo go through a security screening.

So, how is the Transportation Security Administration implementing this law?

By requiring the people who pack the cargo to do the screening.

That’s right. The cargo will be checked for explosives by the people who have the opportunity to put explosives into the cargo. Oh yeah, that’ll work.

How will the companies be screening their employees to make sure none of them is, for example, on the terrorist watch list? And even if the screening ensures that the cargo is safe when it leaves the warehouse, what safeguards are there to keep the cargo from being tampered with while being transported from the manufacturer to the airport?

TSA isn’t alone in being unclear of the concept. Only cargo that’s being shipped on cargo planes must be screened. Cargo being loaded along with luggage onto passenger planes doesn’t have to be screened.

Okay, here’s a thought experiment. You’re a terrorist. You want your act of terrorism to have maximum effect. What target are you going to choose, a plane full of packages or a plane full of people?

It’s enough to make a thinking person think that all the emphasis on Security has some other purpose than keeping people safe.

Posted in TSA, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

What Is the Real Purpose of the No-Fly List?

Posted by MEC on April 30, 2008


The real purpose of the no-fly list can’t possibly be to keep air travelers safer.

The list has prevented air marshals from boarding the planes they’re assigned to protect. The marshals have been complaining about this problem “for years” (probably since the list was compiled) and nothing has been done to fix it.

Posted in BushCo malfeasance, fearmongering, TSA, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | 2 Comments »

Our Tax Dollars At Work

Posted by MEC on June 27, 2007

Since I’m traveling by air tomorrow, I dropped by the TSA web site to get the latest changes to the luggage regulations.

The first thing I saw was:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

“Click here for more” led to a press release:

On June 21, TSA’s primary operational hub was re-named the Freedom Center, symbolizing the agency’s commitment to protecting the nation’s transportation systems against terrorist threats. The name was proposed by Todd Fox, security manager at Philadelphia International Airport, through an agency-wide contest asking TSA employees to submit names.

Excuse me? A contest? To rename the building? Don’t these people have more important things to do?

And the winning entry is the trite and obvious “Freedom Center”, which oh by the way coincides exactly with George W. Bush’s message about what the Global War on Terror is all about?

Let’s have a contest to rename the Department of Homeland Security. My entry: “Ministry of Propaganda”.

The irony is that I visited the TSA site for a definitive list of what objects I’m not allowed to have in carry-on luggage … that is, how the TSA is curtailing the freedom of law-abiding air travelers by imposing pointless restrictions that don’t protect anybody from anything.

Posted in anti-truth, Homeland Security, our tax dollars at work, TSA, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | 7 Comments »

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