Archive for the ‘Security Theater’ tag
I said the first thing the state would grab for after the bombings in Boston were more surveillance powers. As if on queue a Republican from New York is using Monday’s tragedy to demand more cameras to spy on the general populace:
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC: Congressman, briefly, do you think that this will lead to more cameras? I know it’s controversial, there are privacy issues. Boston does have a lot of cameras. European cities, led by London, have the most. Are Americans going to have to get used to more surveillance on a daily basis?
REP. PETER KING (R-NY): I think we do because I think privacy involves being in a private location. Being out in the street is not an expectation of privacy. Anyone can look at you, can see you, can watch what you’re doing. A camera just makes it more sophisticated, but it’s no different from your neighbor looking out the window at you or a police officer looking at you walking down the street.
So, I do think we need more cameras.
Surveillance powers are always the first thing the state grabs for after a tragedy. It’s a fairly safe thing to demand because the general population often view more state surveillance powers are rather benign. Another benefit of surveillance powers is that it expands the state’s watch without having to expand the number of people employed by the state to any notable extent, which keeps more money in the hands of the politicians. Before you know it we’ll be emulating London’s Big Brother situation.
Yesterday explosives were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and a fire broke out at the John F. Kennedy Library. The news cycle will likely consist of wall-to-wall coverage of this event until Friday. During that coverage many speculations and accusations of who is at fault for the explosions will be made. The New York Post is already running with the standard schtick that the perpetrator was a brown person from the Middle East. In all likelihood the war mongers will emulate the Post’s direction and blame the act of an extremist Muslim brown person with ties to al-Qaeda while the Southern Poverty Law Center will blame the act on extremist right-wing Christian white people with ties to to the Ku Klux Klan and several neo-Nazi organizations. For all we know the explosives were set off by a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) created terrorist after somebody in ordinance accidentally supplied real bombs instead of the usual fake bombs (that’s called snark, it’s not a serious accusation). In the end it will probably take some time to determine who the culprit was but that won’t stop the state from immediately exploiting the tragedy to justify another power grab.
Here are my predictions of what is to come. First the state will grab for more surveillance powers, as it always does after a tragedy. That means the recent opposition to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) will vanish. CISPA will be pushed through under the auspices of ensuring a tragedy like this never happens again. The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) high speed low drag Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams will be present at every high profile sporting event, not just events that take place in expensive stadiums. VIPR teams aren’t the only thing we’re likely to see at sporting events in the future, I’ll bet good money that restrictions against domestic drone usage will be loosened. The state’s eyes in the sky will probably be patrolling metropolitan areas with notable frequency. Additional powers will also be claimed by the federal government for its war on foreign and domestic terrorists.
In summary we’re in for the same shit as usual. If there’s one thing the state never lets go to waste it’s a tragedy.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has a long, proud history of creating terrorists and “stopping” them. Somebody in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) must have been paying attention during some inter-agency meeting because they are now emulating the FBI’s tactics:
ATF agents running an undercover storefront in Milwaukee used a brain-damaged man with a low IQ to set up gun and drug deals, paying him in cigarettes, merchandise and money, according to federal documents obtained by the Journal Sentinel.
For more than six months, federal agents relied on Chauncey Wright to promote “Fearless Distributing” by handing out fliers as he rode his bike around town recommending the store to friends, family and strangers, according to federal prosecutors and family members.
Wright, unaware that the store was an undercover operation being run by agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, also stocked shelves with shoes, clothing, drug paraphernalia and auto parts, according to his family.
Once authorities shut down the operation, they charged the 28-year-old man with federal gun and drug counts.
Wright’s IQ measures in the 50s, about half of a normal IQ, according to those familiar with him. Wright’s score is classified as mildly or moderately disabled, depending on the IQ scale used.
Congratulations go to the brave agents of the ATF who managed to capture this most dastardly of criminals! If it wasn’t for the ATF this man would… likely have done nothing illegal. This tactic of creating criminals works well because there are a lot of people out there who make easy prey for smooth talkers. When you look at the history of the FBI’s creation of terrorists you find that the people they recruited, armed, and “stopped” are usually dull witted. In this case the ATF recruited a man who’s IQ measures around 50 (the average IQ is 100).
Were I a tasked with capturing criminals to obtain funding for my agency, suffering a lack of criminals or an inability to capture them, and a complete psychopath I would likely use the same tactic as well. When agency funding is tied to the number of criminals they capture higher ups are eventually going to opt to create criminals in order to justify their demands for more funding.
I’ve stated the reasons I oppose prisons as a form of punishment before but didn’t mention one of the biggest problems with the incarceration system. Prisons are very expensive facilities because, in order to work, they need to prevent prisoners from escaping. Preventing an intelligent and creative creature from escaping is impossible because every system developed to prevent escape will eventually be bypassed:
Two inmates have made a daring escape from a prison in Canada by climbing up a rope into a hovering helicopter.
In order to prevent helicopter escapes prisons will have to either install anti-air defense systems or cage over the top of the facility. Both options are expensive and will simply delay the inevitable escape of future prisoners.
Public Intelligence recently posted a Powerpoint presentation from the NYC fire department (FDNY) discussing the unique safety issues mobile food trucks present. Along with some actual concerns (many food trucks use propane and/or gasoline-powered generators to cook; some *gasp* aren’t properly licensed food vendors), the presenter decided to toss in some DHS speculation on yet another way terrorists might be killing us in the near future.
That’s right. Instead of serving up a quick hot meal, these food trucks will be serving up death, and lots of it! Under the heading “Terrorist Implications,” the FDNY lists the exact reasons we should be concerned, most of which begin with the word “high.”
I hope you’re afraid of food trucks now because they may actually be terrorists in disguise! This is another case of the state creating fear to justify itself.
I seems the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are unable to detect loaded firearms:
After reports of two loaded guns making it past airport screeners and on to passenger flights this week, one congressman says “hundreds” of prohibited items get past screeners every day, a situation he calls “intolerable.”
In one of the incidents last week, Transportation Security Administration screeners allowed a New Orleans Hornets executive to board a plane from New Orleans to Newark, N.J., with a loaded handgun in his baggage.
Just one day earlier in Orlando, TSA officers missed another loaded gun. This time, a firefighter had mistakenly left the gun in her purse and carried it right through security screening and on to her plane. The firefighter realized on her own what had happened and alerted authorities.
This isn’t an entirely bad things mind you. If would be hijackers knew that travelers could be armed they would probably be less inclined to make an attempt to take the plane. Unfortunately this news is being treated almost exclusively as a bad thing because people who lack imaginations don’t see the upside of armed travelers.
Many employees of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have sticky fingers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since they work for the largest gang of thieves in the country, the state. What some of these TSA agents don’t realize is that many electronic devices can be easily tracked, which is who an agent who stole an iPad was caught:
In the latest apparent case of what have been hundreds of thefts by TSA officers of passenger belongings, an iPad left behind at a security checkpoint in the Orlando airport was tracked as it moved 30 miles to the home of the TSA officer last seen handling it.
Confronted two weeks later by ABC News, the TSA officer, Andy Ramirez, at first denied having the missing iPad, but ultimately turned it over after blaming his wife for taking it from the airport.
Not only was the agent willing to steal the iPad but he was then willing to throw his wife under the bus to cover up his misdeed. What a classy guy.
Who watches the watchmen? The TSA claims they are watching for terrorists but they themselves have proven to be a gang of criminals as well. Agents of the TSA have been caught stealing from travelers and sexually assaulting those travelers is part of their job description. How can we trust a gang of thieves to protect us from terrorists? We can’t. You cannot rely on one gang of criminals to protect you from another gang of criminals.
Approximately 14 months ago the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) were order to hold a public hearing regarding their use of body scanners. Needless to say they haven’t complied and were taken to court over their refusal to comply. Luckily for the TSA they are a part of the same state that controls the court system and therefore have been granted extra special privileges:
A federal appeals court on Tuesday said it was giving the Transportation Security Administration until the end of March to comport with an already 14-month-old order to “promptly” hold public hearings and take public comment concerning the so-called nude body scanners installed in U.S. airport security checkpoints.
The public comments and the agency’s answers to them are reviewable by a court, which opens up a new avenue for a legal challenge to the agency’s decision to deploy the scanners. Critics maintain the scanners, which use radiation to peer through clothes, are threats to Americans’ privacy and health, which the TSA denies.
By the time March comes around you can be assured that another extension will be given. The state has a great deal of interest in forcing its subjects to submit to pointless authoritarianism. A public hearing would likely reveal that the body scanners aren’t as safe as the TSA advertises and that would cause the proles to be less than happy about the dangers they’ve been put in in the name of security theatre. I doubt we’ll ever see an actual public hearing regarding these body scanners. At most the old models will be phased out for a new and improved model. After the new models are in place the TSA will claim all previous health concerns are even more misplaced than before and another long series of lawsuits will be required before the TSA is required to hold a public hearing on the new body scanners.
It appears as though the Europeans are smarter than the Americans when it comes to airport security. While Americans are forced to either submit to sexual molestation or be dosed with radiation Europeans have decided to give the body scanners the boot:
The last remaining full-body X-ray airport scanners are to be scrapped within weeks.
The security systems, which have been tested at air terminals since 2009, scan through passengers’ clothes, creating a detailed ghost-like image of the naked body. The scan is then viewed by security staff.
Critics said the machines invaded passengers’ privacy and the radiation they generate raised the risk of cancer. Some Muslim groups also refused to walk through them on religious grounds.
The European Commission ruled that the cancer risk was ‘close to zero’ but, under Brussels legislation, the three-year trial period has elapsed and it has decided not to ‘prioritise’ them for permanent use across the continent.
Airport bosses who were waiting for the green light on the machines now say they have been left with no option but to remove them.
Of course the manufacturers of these scanners will soon arrive at the doorsteps of European politicians with suitcases full of money to ensure this decision is reversed. A temporary victory is still better than no victory at all.
After 9/11 the United States government reacted by turning this county into more of a police state than it already was. The PATRIOT Act was hurried into law, National Security Letters commanded companies to hand over customer information and threatened prison time for even revealing that the letter was received, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) turned flying into a fiasco, and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan began because those countries had
oil and lithium respectively been accused of assisting Al Qaeda. How did Norway react to last year’s terrorist attack on their country? As Bruce Schneier points out, sensibly:
“The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation,” he said.
A year later it seems the prime minister has kept his word.
There have been no changes to the law to increase the powers of the police and security services, terrorism legislation remains the same and there have been no special provisions made for the trial of suspected terrorists.
On the streets of Oslo, CCTV cameras are still a comparatively rare sight and the police can only carry weapons after getting special permission.
Even the gate leading to the parliament building in the heart of Oslo remains open and unguarded.
“It is still easy to get access to parliament and we hope it will stay that way, ” said Lise Christoffersen, a Labour party MP.
She is convinced people do not want laws passed which would curtail their basic rights and impinge on their privacy despite the relative ease with which Breivik was able to plan and carry out his attacks.
If only the United States government had reacted the same way. Instead of sinking trillions of dollars into security theater and war we may have actually been able to redirect those squandered resources into something productive.