Threat of violence coerces United States into changing federal policy

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 13:38


The threat of violent acts against its citizenry has once again coerced the United States federal government into restricting the actions of hundreds of thousands of its citizens:

Security agents may pat the soles of your feet, work up your legs to your waist and run a wand across your whole body. Bags may be searched even after they pass the scanner. Bathroom breaks may be eliminated for the last hour of international flights. Blankets on your lap on those flights are verboten, too. Forget about that extra carry-on bag. And those controversial body scanners that can see under passengers' clothes? They could show up at more airports.(...)

For the time being, passengers flying to the USA must remain in their seats for about an hour before their flight lands and put away personal items, such as electronic equipment, bags, pillows and other bulky items, said two Transportation Security Administration officials familiar with the new rules.

There is an argument to be had about whether existing TSA policies are effective at preventing violent acts on airplanes flying in the United States.  Unfortunately, there is no argument about whether the attempted bathroom bomber used the threat of violence to coerce the United States federal government into altering some of its policies.  Also unfortunately, there is no argument that those policy changes will restrict the actions of several hundred thousand, possibly even millions, of United States citizens.

Chris Bowers :: Threat of violence coerces United States into changing federal policy

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People need to quit flying.... (4.00 / 1)
When there's no one left to stand in line for three hours just to get strip searched and herded into a crowded, stinky, uncomfortable and expensive plane, what will they do?   I also want to know how they can keep someone from going to the bathroom?   There are enlarged prostates everywhere.  


What else are they going to do? (4.00 / 1)
If you build passenger train infrastructure, the next thing we'll be hearing about is train bombers and increased security precautions if you want to take Amtrak.  Arguably, the bubble of safety represented by a personal vehicle is one of the reasons why some people shy away from mass transit.  (Not a sole reason, but one of many.)

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Al Qaeda has an obsession with planes (0.00 / 0)
The Madrid train bombing (which was carried out by a cell with little active connection to mainstream Al Qaeda) and the London Undergound attacks (which were carried out by an independent cell, and none too competently), terrorists have overwhelmingly concentrated on planes.

Certainly it would be easy to bomb trains. The IRA managed to cause transport chaos in Britain in the 1970s by putting bombs in station bins, and they were actually trying not to kill people. But Al Qaeda don't seem interested - so much so that in Britain we're beginning to allow bins back on to train platforms.

Personally, I'd say the big vulnerability is before the gates. As security gets ever more comprehensive, I worry we'll just see people suicide bombing the ever-increasing queues.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


[ Parent ]
It's insane (4.00 / 3)
the whole point of the plane hijacking thing is that they would shut down our transportation infrastructure.  By spazzing out every time WE CATCH SOMEONE BEFORE THEY BOMB THE PLANE, we only make the attack nearly as effective as it would be if they had bombed the plane.  

We actually make it more so (0.00 / 0)
But not disagreeing with your point - the terrorists are winning because the mainstream media constantly "catapults the propaganda" that each and every one of us is at risk.

And, as always, the victems presented are middle class white Americans and the perpetrators are (or are implied to be) people of color.  You see this pattern on national or local news at least every week.

Next time obama/rahm needs to justify endless wars and huge give-aways of public money, they will use this example as the reason we have no choice to do otherwise - a lie.

We all have seen that fear is a powerful manipulator.  Most here hoped our work and votes in 2008 would change this.  

Surely there is a balance between protecting the public and not using fear to manipulate.  I doubt we will see a rational dialog, however, just more of the same.


[ Parent ]
So I guess I can hold off (0.00 / 0)
on buying that new laptop with over 8 hours of battery life?

This is so idiotic. There are doubtlessly so many ways to take down a plane that the only way to prevent it completely would be to ground all flights. Better yet, don't let people out of their homes without being strip searched, and search all items going in and out. Subject everyone to random searches in public. Put cameras in public restrooms. Monitor all WiFi hotspots. Ban matches, lighters and turpentine. That oughtta keep up all safe and "free".

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


The terrorist's mission was therefore a success. (0.00 / 0)
n/t

Except, when you fly first class (0.00 / 0)
These folks will probably still get their own lines at security and their own more relaxed procedure. After all, haven't they paid for the privilege to evade the constraints of our evermore-authoritarian government?

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

They don't need to create fear to manipulate that crowd (0.00 / 0)
These are the folks that obama/rahm (and previous administration) represented.  They understand that there is no need for the draconian security measures and would never accept the inconveniences.

Like taxes, fear mongering is directed at the little guy.


[ Parent ]
First Class Passengers Get Their Own Lines Already (0.00 / 0)
But, in my experience, they usually go through the same machines.  The first class line is more like an express lane that lets first class passengers cut in line while going through the same procedures.  It's not always about class warfare.

Don't forget, the 9/11 hijackers bought first class tickets.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
It is about class warfare (0.00 / 0)
There has been an ongoing assault on middle class and other Americans for many years now, however, those behind it have managed to use the media to create the meme that somehow it is unfair to even talk about objective facts and the results of policies because it is "class warfare."

Not that I didn't use the term in my post, but you wanted to use this most loaded of terms to describe differences that certainly exist in how these 2 groups of flyers are treated.

It is a shame when progressives/liberals adapt the same framing and loaded terminology that is used to divide us.


[ Parent ]
My point is (0.00 / 0)
First-class passengers get a quicker route to the security checkpoint, but they don't get a break in actually passing through the checkpoint.  They have to follow the same rules and don't get a "relaxed procedure".  They're not exempt from being selected for secondary screening.  If passengers aren't permitted to get up for the last hour of the flight, that rule is going to be enforced in the first-class cabin as well as in economy.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
I don't think they are groped either (0.00 / 0)
the way the common guy is - the process is different and I don't think you can even show me the get the same treatment because there is more concern about their dignity, which you choose to dismiss as "relaxed procedure".

Again, intentionally or not, you are "catapulting the propaganda" because you are admitting the treatment is different yet arguing it is essentially the same.


[ Parent ]
I don't think the process is different (0.00 / 0)
The way it is usually set up (the "elite" lane allows first-class passengers to bypass most of the line, but is merged back in with the general population at some point), the TSA officials probably can't even tell which passengers are traveling in first class and which are not before they decide on if more examination is necessary.

Maybe you're misreading, because I explicitly said that I don't believe that first-class passengers get a "relaxed procedure".

Maybe your flying experience is different.  The main airports I have flown out of with separate first-class lanes are Cincinnati (CVG) and Los Angeles (LAX), primarily on Delta flights.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
don't worry (0.00 / 1)
arnie is just really pissed off at the world. a world where classes rule and not everyone is treated the same. a world of rich people and poor people.  a world where the rich get by on doing nothing while the poor continue to do everyting.  a world where rich people can skip to the front of the line while all others have to wait.  Arnie's wish is that everyone had to wait.  That everyone had to stuggle.  that there where no such thing as upper class, middle class, lower class.  I think arnie is wasting his time and his life because this will never happen. money rules and not just here in the U.S.  it rules everywhere.  I guess if arnie really want to live in his own eutopia, he will have to move to Cuba.  This is about as close as he's gonna get.  There, he will have no problems waiting 10 hours in line to get a loaf of bread and a chicken.  Everyone waits on the same line.  Everyone that is except the ruling party and their friends and family who of course don't have to wait in line.  They get lobster and steak flown in special just for them.  Good luck in Cuba Arnie!!!

[ Parent ]
What a disingenuous lie (0.00 / 0)
Slandering people as cuban supporters for disagreeing with you.

Now that is just as fascist as they get - wouldn't even expect that from rush limpballs.  Do you call yourself a "progressive" or "liberal" or are you just here to flame?

Don't tell me - you're one of these "fiscal conservative"/libertarians that proclaims you "love" America and hate the majority of people that live here!


[ Parent ]
Are you talking about Black Diamond Lanes? (0.00 / 0)
A few airports have been testing a new mode of sorting passengers at the security check points.

Black Diamond lanes are named from the signage on ski slopes. Experienced travelers get to by-pass those less familiar with security procedures. I have used them and they work fairly well.

To arnie's point: The first class and frequent flyers do get a chance to stand in shorter lines, but the screening is essentially the same. That said, if a person flies every week, from the same airport and therefore goes through the same TSA check-point, over and over, I can understand that those doing the searching might start to realize that they offer no threat, and go easier on them when it comes to pat-downs and bag searches.

There was talk here in Minneapolis (the MSP airport) a couple of years ago about allowing frequent flyers to sign up for an "express" service. One would have to provide access to personal information and let the airport conduct a background check, then be issued an ID card that would allow you to pass through security with a lower level of searching and frisking because the lack of criminal intent on the part of those passengers had been determined previously. I'm not sure what became of this idea. It was never implemented. Maybe they could not convince TSA that it would work. Given the poor record using the "watch list", I doubt such a system could be implemented in a local way.

BTW, frequent flyers are not the same as first class passengers. I log a lot of airtime because my work requires it and I have never flown first class even on an up-grade.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
What I meant (4.00 / 2)
You're right that more often than not it is more like first class gets to "cut in line." Nevertheless, letting them have any privilege at all when it comes to security undermines the narrative that we're all supposed to be "working together" to protect our country and "preserve our freedoms."

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
To be clear (4.00 / 1)
My understanding is that, under current law, the TSA only controls the actual security checkpoint and treats all passengers equally.  So, it is the airlines and airports that decide how the lanes are set up in they space they own.  That is who you should criticize if you see unfairness in how passengers are delivered to security.

Personally, I'm tolerant of an express lane for first class/frequent flyers/etc so long as it doesn't appear to actually slow things down.  I'm not so resentful of first-class passengers as they don't seem to be a bunch of sneering fat cats.  A lot of them seem to be retirees or business travelers or people who normally fly coach and are using an upgrade due to miles.  I envision the bankster class as using private planes rather than first class to get around without mingling with the underclass.  I see first class passengers getting pat downs and having their bags opened, so that's good enough for me, but I can understand why others would see it differently.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
For the record (4.00 / 2)
I wasn't aiming criticism at any specific target. Just making a general point. And I'm a very frequent flier as well who occasionally bumps up to first class. It really is a very different experience -- even in the security line. And I no longer exercise the privilege because of it. Call this inner nobility if you wish, but where's the sense of solidarity that is supposed to be an element in true patriotism?  

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
Shouldn't surprise anyone (0.00 / 0)
The "first class" folks probably aren't sending their sons and daughters into Iraq and Afghanistan and the military-industrial complex is certainly not actively recruiting them.

They are actually hanging out at macdonald and shopping centers in the inner city, actively recruiting less well-off and people of color.

Why should anyone think "first-class" would be inconvenienced to support the "war on terror"?


[ Parent ]
I especially like the no potty break at the end of flights rule (4.00 / 2)
If a terrorist can't go the bathroom in the last hour of a flight, they can do us no harm!

Up until the point that it occurs to them to go to the bathroom before the last hour of a flight.

My god.

It's like, if a terrorist wore an Indiana Pacers cap onto a plane, they'd ban Pacers caps and claim a job well done.


I personally would have greater concern that a terrorist would sh!t on my (4.00 / 1)
food tray or person if they were denied access to bathrooms than I would be concerned with what they do in bathroom.

After all, the probability of the former might be significant if bathroom breaks were banned, while the probability of the latter is virtually nil on each and every flight.


[ Parent ]
Lagos? (0.00 / 0)
This guy initially went through airport security in Lagos. Then he went through airport security again in Amsterdam. So the TSA's response is to pat me down in Pittsburgh?

What am I missing here?

Taking Back America, One Radio at a Time.


They can't manipulate fear and exploit it across Americans (0.00 / 0)
if the pat-down/perverted grubbing occurs in Lagos and Amsterdam.

[ Parent ]
Someone determined to carry out an attack will find a way. (4.00 / 1)
All the police state tactics in the world aren't going to thwart one.

"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time." -- Harry S. Truman

By that logic (0.00 / 0)
we should disband TSA and let everyone on any plane without even looking at them.

Does that sound like a good plan?  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Would Technology Have Prevented the Groin Bomber? (4.00 / 1)
Chris Bowers quoted an article that mentioned the body scanners.  Now, the NY Times reports:

Privacy advocates, for example, have tried to stop or at least slow the introduction of advanced checkpoint screening devices that use so-called millimeter waves to create an image of a passenger's body, so officers can see under clothing to determine if a weapon or explosive has been hidden. Security officers, in a private area, review the images, which are not stored. Legislation is pending in the House that would prohibit the use of this equipment for routine passenger screening.

To date, only 40 of these machines have been installed at 19 airports across the United States - meaning only a tiny fraction of passengers pass through them. Amsterdam's airport has 15 of these machines - more than just about any airport in the world - but an official there said Sunday that they were prohibited from using them on passengers bound for the United States, for a reason she did not explain.

I lean towards using such machines, so long as they are cost-effective, help make the security process quicker and more efficient, and possibly allow for the lifting of some of the current restrictions on air travel.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


Perhaps some type of hi-tech underwear-colonoscopy scope (0.00 / 0)
Something they could ram up your butt and then tell you to enjoy your flight.

[ Parent ]
around and around (0.00 / 0)
The more you create an environment in which people are meant to feel fear the easier it is to make that environment all the more fearful.

Eventually you reach a point where it is necessary to destroy constitutional freedoms at the airport in order to, uh, save them.

Then you move on to make other environments scary too.



We have already passed that point - destroying freedoms at airport (0.00 / 0)
And you actually no longer have 4th ammendment rights either - remember when obama himself spoke up about this, promising to filibuster FISA.

He caved then and we are seeing massive capitulations by obama/rahm now.


[ Parent ]
More Dogs - Less Hi (Stupid) Tech! (0.00 / 0)
How idiotic. We are spending untold millions and to what effect? Every TSA Line should be replaced with bomb sniffing dogs. All foreigners entering the country should be subjected to a bomb sniffing dog at their Point of Origin.

Instead TSA and the US Government is screening little old ladies and children and letting known potential terrorists get on plains. We are not attacking the problem we are masking it.

One terrorist had the plastic explosive in his rectum. How does TSA propose to pat down for that? Get the dogs trained now. Stop subjecting us to your stupid unworkable solutions.

My family and I have two trips planned in 2010. I will either hire a small plane or drive.  Until TSA pulls their head out of their ass and starts to see the lunacy of the current solutions I am not going commercial air.


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