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Alarming Article on Security Procedures
July 7, 2005 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Alarming Article on Security Procedures What is alarming is not necessarily that there is a "no-fly" list, or that we have security measures in response to a percieved terrorist threat. What's alarming is that there seems to be no accountabity or due process demanded from public officials. Without accountability, what's to stop public officials from acting arbitrarily, or for some political endeavor? (See the Plame case.) Combined with the Right's seeming position that the president is above the law in prosecuting a war, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 03-1027 (Rumsfield v. Padilla) and Case No. 03-6696 (Hamdi v. Rumsfield), (see also the recent DOJ position papers), and for the 1st time I am becoming nervous that America might devolve into something like a police state.
posted by JKevinKing (36 comments total)

 
well, if you're becoming nervous, by all means, let's do something about it!
posted by Hat Maui at 11:18 AM on July 7, 2005


"I am becoming nervous that America might devolve into something like a police state."

I know how you feel. That's my main worry every time a Democrat is elected president. ;-P
posted by mischief at 11:21 AM on July 7, 2005


Yeah, 'cause Carter was nothin' if not an authoritarian.
posted by scody at 11:24 AM on July 7, 2005


Classy nonsequiturs, both of you. Truly. I'm impressed. No, really. Honest.
posted by ook at 11:27 AM on July 7, 2005


You're welcome.
posted by mischief at 11:31 AM on July 7, 2005


ook's back!

on topic: just as the weather is not the climate, the passing security fad is not, by definition, a police state in the making. Now, the Patriot and Patriot II are starting to vastly expand the powers of the executive, and the new terrorism office starts to be a sea-change and not just whimsy.

</trying to save this thread>
posted by zpousman at 11:46 AM on July 7, 2005


Don't you realize there are evil doers everywhere trying to hurt us and steal our freedom. We have to give up our freedom to preserve it.

Well, that is what an awful lot of people would easily believe. We have seen worse examples in our history: The Alien and Sedition Act of 1798, the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, etc.

That is not to make light of our continuing movement toward a police state. Gonzales may very well be the next Supreme Court Justice and he does not appear to have any qualms about the the administration's movements in the direction of fascism. That is my big fear of Gonzales.
posted by caddis at 12:00 PM on July 7, 2005


I am becoming nervous that America might devolve into something like a police state

Your histrionics show that you wouldn't know what a police state was if it had it's boot on your neck.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2005


I'm not really afraid that we are (or might) descend into a police state.

I'm actually angry that this has been turned into a partisan issue and that so many Americans don't care.

An arbitrary, opaque process like the TSA's no-fly list is un-American. Period. It is almost a certitude that such a thing will be abused, if left in place. It already seems to be the case that the TSA doesn't care at all about people they screw over by making stupid mistakes in the creation of their no-fly list. Why would they care? They have almost no accountability, it's a waste of their time to care.

It annoys the hell out of me that so many shrug, and worse, actively defend such transparent bullshit. T. Jefferson expected better from us.
posted by teece at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2005


I just finished reading The Great Influenza and the author had a lot of information about pre-WWI America. I'm not sure how accurate his telling is but if even half of what he said is true then... wow. That was an American police state: government controlled economy, forced drafting of all young men, "voluntary" gasoline control (you were arrested if a police officer thought you were needlessly driving), forced quotas for everything from industry to the American Red Cross, tightly controlled and regulated media, and no one complained.

By contrast, I don't think we're even a fifth of the way there. It doesn't hurt to be vigilant but let's not overreact.
posted by sbutler at 12:59 PM on July 7, 2005


I think that maybe should read Alarmist Article rather than Alarming. I think I've found the root of this guy's problem with the government, he was in the State Department. If I had to take a mensa type test to get into a club that then shuttled me around the world to join all expenses paid smarmy ex-pat cliques in exotic locations, I'd expect the government to bend over for me at every opportunity too. Unfortunately in the real world of government, things move slow, people aren't all type a brainiacs and they really don't give a crap who you are. top it all off that TSA is the bottom rung of the beurocracy. Frankly, if there was some big conspiracy to get you all, a) it would have leaked 40 years ago and b) it would be so mired in red tape that it would never get off the ground.

Let's look at the facts folks, people think there is a sudden change in the security climate because they don't like Bush not because there actually is a sudden change. I don't like him either, but really, read the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and compare it to the Patriot Act. I can tell you that there is nothing new going on here.

T. Jefferson expected better from us.

Yeah, so? He was the leader of a minority party when the Constitution was formed. Alexander Hamilton would have put him on the no fly list as a joke too.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:31 PM on July 7, 2005


Your histrionics show that you wouldn't know what a police state was if it had it's boot on your neck.
This comment puzzles me. The article linked to is alarming, in the sense that it documents how someone can be erroneously placed on the "no-fly" list and then how difficult it is to get off once this happens (since the TSA regs state you can not be "removed" from the list, but only have your status changed to "cleared" -- in other words, you're never really innocent once suspected of being guilty)

In case you missed what that means, it boils down to a situation where a U.S. citizen can be restricted in their ability to legally travel because they had their name put on a list by a process that has no oversight and no method for arbitration in the event of a mistake. Indeed, there doesn't seem to be a process to even defend yourself, ever, from being accused of being a possible terrorist.

But the post isn't even particularly histrionic. It's even sort of cautious, using language like "I'm nervous America might devolve into something like a police state."

And then, even if the post was histrionic--how does that show that the poster wouldn't know a police state if it had a boot around their neck. Does that require some sort of calm mental state that I was unaware of?

And since we're on the subject, how do you "know" when you live in a police state? What's the line that needs to be crossed? Is it a national ID that must be carried everywhere? Checkpoints? Secret Police from a b-movie that ask for "Your paypairss pleess" while you walk down the street?

What's too far? When aren't we free anymore?

I'm not telling -- I'm asking.
posted by illovich at 1:42 PM on July 7, 2005


Freedom aint free man, freedom aint free....
posted by hatchetjack at 1:44 PM on July 7, 2005


Oddly enough, what Steve_at_Linnwood said. Once you remove the tinfoil hat and the Che t-shirt maybe you'll realize the real problem with "there seems to be no accountabity or due process demanded from public officials" is that it's a brand new form of government waste.

Just as we've dumped billions into a war on drugs which hasn't helped one single person ever, we now have another huge money pit to toss our tax dollars into.

Much like the war on drugs, the new homeland security stuff is forever. It would be political suicide to try and stop it. And politicians with balls never get relected.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:51 PM on July 7, 2005


I think that maybe should read Alarmist Article rather than Alarming

What makes the article alarmist? The guy isn't prognosticating a grim future, he relating a weird kafkaesque situation that he actually is in. And assuming he's telling the truth, he is now regulated to a dubious legal status (suspected terrorist) for which there is no mechanism for clearing.

That wouldn't piss you off?
posted by illovich at 1:53 PM on July 7, 2005


The only histrionics I'm seeing are those from S@L.
posted by teece at 1:55 PM on July 7, 2005


This security charade is much more about expanding administrative governance than it is about undermining or replacing democratic self-rule. Authority without responsibility, every administrator's day dream.

It is stupid and an abuse of the public trust.

But the political gridlock brought about by the resurgence of the American right shows no sign of weakening yet. So screw your hats on for more dimbulbs running amok. This sort of nonsense won't bring on a collapse of the republic, but collapsing republics will experience a vast expansion of unchecked administrative power.
posted by warbaby at 2:49 PM on July 7, 2005


Actually, my name is on a watch list, illovich, I too have been placed in the "cleared file". It has caused some inconveniences, particularly as I work for a government agency that requires rather stringent background checks. The only remaining inconvenience for me now is that about 75% of the time I get called for "Secondary" when I go through the metal detectors at airports.

There is a mechanism for getting your name off the lists, it just takes a long time because TSA is a poorly designed, poorly managed morass. This guy just doesn't want to wait that long. His credentials do not make me believe that he has any knowledge of actual government agencies, just State, which is a totally different animal. (Also, just try and get something through State from the outside and see how much resistence you get, talk about your lack of due process!)

Very little of this "new" homeland security stuff is actually new. DHS combined different agencies into one, that's all. Prior to the Homeland Security Act, things were spread out. Customs under Commerce, INS under Justice, what's now TSA under Transportation... so on and so forth. The major problem with it all isn't that they do too much, but that it was all thrown together too fast and was poorly sorted out. Some contractors got very rich bilking the government and the combined agencies began stepping on each other's toes. None of the subsections of DHS do anything that wasn't done before.

From the article:

I don't think it's like Germany in 1936 -- but, look at Germany in 1930. Primed by National Socialist propaganda to stay fearful and angry, Germans in droves refused to see the right's extreme views and actions as a threat to their liberties.

Really? This isn't a little bit alarmist hyperbole? This from a guy that worked during the cold war on our foreign policy with Vietnam and Cuba and NATO nuclear policy? Suddenly he gets his bag whiped down with an explosives detector pad and it's Pinochet's Chile around here!
posted by Pollomacho at 2:52 PM on July 7, 2005


Well if the abuses under Patriot and Patriot II don't alarm you; and they might not because the current Republican adminstration and Congress are doing everything in their power to avoid anything resembling a free and open discussion on the subject. (See the recent 'hearings' that Rep. Joh Conyers is trying to hold, as well as the Sensebrenner shennanigans with turning microphones off. )

Check out this write-up by Virginia Postrel, on her Dynamist website a while back on the pernicious use of 18 USC sec. 1001, which makes it a crime to lie to a federal agent. A good thing one would expect, except that the way in which it is being used, the 'accused' ends up having to prove their innocence once a 'federal agent' files a report on their inteview with someone. I believe this is the section that caught Martha Stewart.

There are other abuses of course, including in my opinion overly broad conspiracy laws, intimidation and abuse of the grand jury by prosecutors, and other prosecutorial mis-behavior that has been eating away at our civil liberties.

You won't fix any of it until you get some of the current Republicans out of congress and out of state and local government.
posted by zgarilli at 3:06 PM on July 7, 2005


Your histrionics show that you wouldn't know what a police state was if it had it's boot on your neck.

And your smug and blase cluelessness shows that you won't know what a police state is until it's boot is on your neck.
posted by stenseng at 3:17 PM on July 7, 2005


It's sad that demanding due process and non-arbitrary, rational treatment from the government is histrionics or "tinfoil hat" and "Che T-Shirt" thinking to some people. As illovich wrote in his eloquent defense of my post, I did not write that we are in a police state, but I am concerned that we are on the path to devolve into one.

The American government is built on the rational, non-arbitrary or capricious conduct; it must provide due process. Unless you think the author of the linked article is lying, the actions of the government in his case should disturb you.

More security might be necessary. However, a grant of power to those who wield the police power must be balanced by accountability and due process. If not, it is only a matter of time before someone with that power will hide behind the wall similar to the one TSA has constructed to run over the rest of us. Nobody should be above the law. If we do not demand that accountability and due process from the government, whether or not the government is controlled by our party, we will most certainly lose our freedom.

Unfortunately, I believe there is a significant portion of the American electorate who is putting their party over their country; either that or they think that their party is the country. Because of that, they are excusing conduct of government officials because they are on their team. This can be very dangerous.

The other theme on this thread is that the current political situation is just a phase, or perhaps just bureocratic inefficiency. I, personally, am partial to that view, and, until recently, subscribed to it.

However, I am rethinking that. Why? It just seems like more and more of this kind of conduct is being tolerated. The article itself referred to the frog in the pot of water who dies because the heat is turned up gradually. Also, I just don't trust the president and those around him.

I admit, I am a Democrat, generally. However, I don't remember having this kind of feeling with Bush I, or even Reagan. Regardless of whether I agreed with them or I thought that their policies were wrong-headed, I did not get the feeling that their administrations would seriously abuse their power, although Iran -Contra perhaps proved me wrong. (Interestingly, many of the same actors from that episode and mind-set are in the current administration.)

The current Bush Administration gives me the feeling that they do not accept the legitimacy of political opposition, and their conduct has shown me that they will use any means to achieve their ends. In short, I believe that they do believe that they are above the law. I did not always think that.

In any case, increased power must come with increased accountability to the public, and nobody should be subject to harmful actions of the government with any redress, which is basically happening here. And this should be whether or not the government happens to be controlled by your party.
posted by JKevinKing at 3:27 PM on July 7, 2005


S@L's comment was one of the funniest I have read all week, even if I am not in complete agreement with it, or disagreement.

There is a real need for a due process mechanism to challenge being on the "do not fly" list. It is a classic taking of liberty (to fly) without due process right now. There is a current case pending, perhaps someone has a good link, that may decide the issue. However, if Gonzales has his way, my guess is he will find some technical argument as to why it is not a government action or not a due process issue.
posted by caddis at 3:35 PM on July 7, 2005


"TSA is a poorly designed, poorly managed morass"

This is what you get when these morons get their hands on stuff like data-mining. SNAFU to the Nth power.

Even Ted Kennedy had his problems. But they fixed it for him, so tough luck for the rest of us. Thanks a lot, fat boy! Drive carefully, you boozey wanker.
posted by warbaby at 3:44 PM on July 7, 2005


It is a classic taking of liberty (to fly) without due process right now.

That's the way a strict constructionist would see it. Seen many of those on the bench lately?
posted by Kwantsar at 4:19 PM on July 7, 2005


However, I am rethinking that. Why? It just seems like more and more of this kind of conduct is being tolerated. The article itself referred to the frog in the pot of water who dies because the heat is turned up gradually. Also, I just don't trust the president and those around him.

I am not advocating for apathy in the face of eroding rights, all I argue is that I believe it is the last part of this paragraph that makes you suddenly rethink the rest of it, particularly when faced with 215 years of rights being given and taken. You may not have felt as strongly about Bush Sr. or Reagan, however the nation was not nearly as polarized in those days. The water has been pretty warm for quite a while, we were just hot tubbing.

The agents of erosion have always been there, you just notice now because, as you said, you just don't trust Bush partly because there never was this much partisan noise in your lifetime. Even in the Nixon days people had a tough time believing the President could be a crook, now we have trouble believing he's not (whether he is or not, not my argument here).

The author of the article told of being banned from one flight, one. He is now on the "clear list" according to the article, this means he will face inconvenience, but not bannination. The TSA on the other hand is facing a trouncing by the GAO, which stands now for the Government Accountability Office (rather than the old General Accounting Office). Contracts, processes and policies are all on the block at TSA, so perhaps the calls to oust Pinochet are premature.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:04 PM on July 7, 2005


of course we live in a police state, and the people LOVE IT! and there's more to come, just wait. don't worry, be happy.
posted by brandz at 5:27 PM on July 7, 2005


When they finally come out with the new National ID's, I'm gonna try and resist them for as long as possible, (like I did with cell phones.)

I'm also gonna walk around armed. Legally, of course.

If there is an upswell in the movement for freedom and liberty, instead of the tripe that the current regime had re-defined to be Freedom (tm) and Liberty (tm), I will fight for that.
Untill then, all I can do is resist. Resist with me.
posted by Balisong at 6:09 PM on July 7, 2005


They change the laws to suite their cause.
posted by LowDog at 6:15 PM on July 7, 2005


Steve_at_Linnwood writes "Your histrionics show that you wouldn't know what a police state was if it had it's boot on your neck."

And your histrionics show that you won't know a police state until it has its boot on your neck.
posted by clevershark at 6:25 PM on July 7, 2005


Curses, stenseng beat me to it... funny how we both made the exact same alteration to the original quote...
posted by clevershark at 6:29 PM on July 7, 2005


Unfortunately, I believe there is a significant portion of the American electorate who is putting their party over their country; either that or they think that their party is the country. Because of that, they are excusing conduct of government officials because they are on their team. This can be very dangerous.

I think I saw this or something to this effect on MeFi just the other day: "My country right or wrong has become my party right or wrong."
posted by caddis at 6:54 PM on July 7, 2005


Personally I'm quite happy that I can fly safe in the knowledge that the guy next to me won't be named David Nelson.
posted by clevershark at 9:56 PM on July 7, 2005


There is a mechanism for getting your name off the lists, it just takes a long time because TSA is a poorly designed, poorly managed morass.

Well let me know what it is, cause I've been on that damn list for close to 3 years now.

"My country right or wrong has become my party right or wrong."

Yeah, both sides definately have become overly polarized.

I've found if I make a critical comment on how the "War on Terror" is being waged I get the knee jerk, "Well you think we should have just sat there and done nothing?!" "Look at what happened with Nazi Germany in the 30's" spiel

Should I agree with the basis that military action needed to be taken after 9/11 I get berated with horror of war stories before I can even clarify what kind of action I think that should have been.
posted by jcking77 at 10:14 PM on July 7, 2005


My country right or wrong has become my party right or wrong.

Yes, it's safe to say the (getting old) relativistic your reality / my reality thing is pretty well entrenched.

There is no absolute truth. Nothing is either right or wrong based solely on it's own merits. Anything any of us thinks is, allegedly, completely warped by belonging to one or another race, a gender, an economic class, a political party etc.

So, no one can say what's right for the country because there is no such thing, there's only what's right for me or what's right for you.

Or so the thinking goes.
posted by scheptech at 11:28 PM on July 7, 2005


Pollomacho writes "He is now on the 'clear list' according to the article, this means he will face inconvenience,"

Why should he be facing this inconvenience though? To me it sounds like classic harrassment.

Also it looks like an openning to game the system. Get a bunch of guys to get themselves on the "cleared but will still pay extra attention" list. Have them all fly on your target flight. The security system will be so busy spazzing out over the "cleared" guys they may not pay attention to the bad guys ho aren't in the system.
posted by Mitheral at 7:36 AM on July 8, 2005


CBS 2 - New York News: Are You On Uncle Sam's No Fly List?
Feb 5, 2004 11:00 pm US/Eastern

NEW YORK (CBS) The war on terror casts a wide net and has so far prevented a second September 11th. But is that net too wide? CBS 2 has learned of a top secret government list of Americans who are not allowed on any commercial airlines.

Are they terrorists or violent criminals or something else? CBS 2's Cheryl Fiandaca investigates.

The airport counter: This is as far as Rebecca Gordon and Janet Adams say they are allowed to go at San Francisco International Airport. The last time they checked in for a flight to Boston to visit Gordon's 80-year-old father, an airline employee called the police.

"She came back and said you turned up on the FBI no-fly list. We have called the San Francisco police. We were shocked, really shocked,” recalled Adams.

"We were detained. We were definitely detained. I couldn't even get a drink of water," Gordon remembered.

So why would two women in their 50's, U.S. citizens, San Francisco homeowners and long-time peace activists with no criminal records be on a federal watch list with suspected terrorists?

That's just one of the questions the couple wanted answers to.

An ACLU attorney tells CBS 2 the government won’t even tell them if Gordon and Adams are on the list.

Last April, the ACLU of Northern California filed suit against the Transportation Security Administration and the FBI on behalf of the pair and demanded answers to basic questions, including how many people are on the secret list, who is on the it, how do you get on it and how can you get off it.

This what they got back: hundreds of pages of blacked out text that give them no answers to any of their questions.

"The government has blacked out the information about what criteria they use to place people on these lists. So we don't know how someone gets on the list. How they can get off the list if they're on it incorrectly, we don't know. If the government monitors the list, we don't know if any of this makes us any safer. What we do know is hundreds, maybe thousands, of passengers are being routinely hassled, innocent passengers, because of these lists," ACLU attorney Jayashri Srikantiah told CBS 2."
posted by Dunvegan at 10:20 PM on July 12, 2005


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