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The Automated Targeting System, the US government's record-keeping system on travelers
September 22, 2007 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Today's Washington Post: "The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials."

"John Gilmore, a civil liberties activist in San Francisco whose records were requested by the Identity Project... [had an Automated Targeting System file], which he provided to The Washington Post, included a note from a Customs and Border Patrol officer that he carried the marijuana-related book 'Drugs and Your Rights.' 'My first reaction was I kind of expected it,' Gilmore said. 'My second reaction was, that's illegal.'"

The program, disclosed in the Federal Register in November and reported on at the time, has been criticized by civil liberties groups(many links at that page) as illegal under the Privacy Act, and by security experts as "a waste of money" (many links at that page too). The reach of the program was unknown until the Post article. Here's the DHS's Privacy Impact Statement (pdf) on the program from last November.
posted by ibmcginty (81 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
yes, but do they have blinking electronic whirligigs? Thats the real threat to America.
posted by Avenger at 8:52 AM on September 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Some many years ago, when filling out the customs form on arriving back in the USA, I used an auxiliary address that I never used before or since, and I started receiving junk mail at that address, seemingly directed at the same people who would buy things from in-flight catalogs.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:59 AM on September 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


From Wired, U.S. Airport Screeners Are Watching What You Read. "International travelers concerned about being labeled a terrorist or drug runner by secret Homeland Security algorithms may want to be careful what books they read on the plane. Newly revealed records show the government is storing such information for years."

Scary times.
posted by nickyskye at 9:12 AM on September 22, 2007


This goes for libraries too. If you take out or read any types
of subversive lit. Your name goes on a list. I took some books out and my name was added. They enlisted some of my coworkers to spy on me and It ended up with my boss calling me at home, telling me that I wasn't to set foot on my job, pending an investigation. That's why I don't take out books from the library anymore.
posted by doctorschlock at 9:20 AM on September 22, 2007


Strange times indeed. After 9/11 when they would do secondary screening at the airplane gate before boarding, I was chosen everytime (yeah -- "by random") for screening.

I always suspected that it had to do with my previous travel in the Middle East early in 2001 -- or some other indicator in my travel record.
posted by ericb at 9:29 AM on September 22, 2007


This is completely insane. I was raised by a couple of Libertarians who lied even to my school district about my social security number. I thought for years they were a little bit rabid about privacy issues in general.

And now everything they said might happen? Is. coming. true.
posted by lauranesson at 9:33 AM on September 22, 2007


This goes for libraries too. If you take out or read any types of subversive lit. Your name goes on a list. I took some books out and my name was added. They enlisted some of my coworkers to spy on me and It ended up with my boss calling me at home, telling me that I wasn't to set foot on my job, pending an investigation. That's why I don't take out books from the library anymore.

yah? so what happened? what was the outcome of the investigation? what did your boss investigate, exactly? do you still have the job? who is the mysterious "they"? sounds like schlock to me, doc.
posted by quonsar at 9:34 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Terrarists need vacations, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:35 AM on September 22, 2007


Automated Targeting System on Wikipedia.

"Beginning in February 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will implement their ¨Advance Passenger Information System (APIS),¨ the gist of which is that you will need permission from the United States Government to travel on any air or sea vessel that goes to, from or through the U.S. The travel companies will not be able to issue a boarding pass until you are cleared by DHS. This applies to ALL passengers, US citizens and visitors alike. And how do you get said permission to travel? That´s for your government to know and you to never find out."

That's why I don't take out books from the library anymore.

Holy shit, that's awful doctorschlock. Are you joking or did that really happen to you?
posted by nickyskye at 9:38 AM on September 22, 2007


ericb, would rather we "randomly" selected people with previous travel to suspect places than randomly search people that make no sense to search.

When I was in the military I was "randomly" drug tested all the time, even when my platoon wasn't selected, "We have to have 50, and 2nd only has 48 guys, so you go." I didn't mind, since I know this was part of it signing up. There were actually indicators as to why I would be suspect (I hung with stoners in my off hours, and this was known). Much rather they have a polite pretense of random testing, and actually grab the pople that are suspect, than let the people who should be taken aside go out of some kinda quota.

He's got a suspicious bulge under his black trench coat in the heat of this summer, but we haven't serached enough grandma's this week. Let him through.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:39 AM on September 22, 2007


Hey, don’t be so hard on the doctorschlock. This exact thing happened to me when I checked out a book from the library called Building Your Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie.
posted by found missing at 9:41 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this link.

As a journalist myself, could the Post have come with a more inert headline than "Collecting of Details on Travelers Documented"? It's like GO AWAY READERS, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

I'm not advocating NY Post-type hysteria, but I must say.
posted by digaman at 9:44 AM on September 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


ericb, would rather we "randomly" selected people with previous travel to suspect places than randomly search people that make no sense to search.

I'm not complaining. As I said, I always suspected that there was a specific reason for getting searched and was likely due to some sort of data profiling.
posted by ericb at 9:47 AM on September 22, 2007


ericb, would rather we "randomly" selected people with previous travel to suspect places than randomly search people that make no sense to search.

If we don't randomly select people, then all the terrorists have to do is find someone who doesn't get searched very often, and use them as a mule to smuggle stuff on the plane. It actually increases the chances that a terrorist strike will succeed, assuming that the terrorist have at least one person who receives reduced scrutiny.

Would that be the case? I don't know. People who argue for racial profiling, though, are out of their minds, since obviously there are white people in Al-Queda. As far as slipping past this screening: it would require they were either able to recruit in the U.S. undetected, or steal people's identities.

I wonder how frequent air travelers actually feel about all this B.S. My feeling is that most of them just hate it, and would prefer reduced "security" (i.e. security theater). in exchange for the caveat that passengers will fight off any hijacking attempts (so that hijackers can't fly planes into buildings)

But I don't fly that often. How would frequent travelers feel about this?
posted by delmoi at 10:01 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


The book was a work of fiction called, 'Going Postal'. My co-workers thought it was a how-to-do handbook. They wrote down every conversation I had with them. I had to have a psychiatric exam too. That in itself was insane because it was at work and I wasn't supposed to set foot on the property until after the investigation so I was met at the front door by 4 guards who surrounded me. They formed a human shield and led me to the library's resident shrink, but not before relieving me off my desk keys because one of my co-workers claimed I had a gun inside. The shrink asked me all kinds of questions
and after 2 minutes, he knew that I was an OK JOE. After the
interview, I was shown the door and reminded that I was still barred from work until the investigation was over.
I had asked a newspaper friend of mine to do a profile of me in the local newspaper and he did. I needed to let the public know that I was being railroaded. A few days later, I was cleared. The investigation was over. I returned to work and the article hit the newsstand. The library went batsh*t.
Then NPR Morning Edition got involved along with 60 minutes. The library had a lot of explaining to do. The NPR
Morning Edition featured me on a broadcast that got a huge response but the 60 Minutes interview got dropped because
my co-workers were afraid to talk.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:03 AM on September 22, 2007 [9 favorites]


Wasn't trying to say we shouldn't do random as well, just that some random searches should be less random than others. I know that sounds Orwellian, but until I hear about a blond haired woman from Minnesota trying to take over a plane, these people just won't scare me as much.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:08 AM on September 22, 2007


I'm still working here, but was labeled a satanist by the religious freaks. My supervisor demoted himself. My ex-boss separated another co-worker from me and gave her a cushy job along with a raise. I get the evil eye from the other high and mighty folks but I've got nothing to hide.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:08 AM on September 22, 2007


doctorschlock: Are you an employee at the very same library that flagged your reading habits? If so, do you know if library patrons are treated in the same way?
posted by kid ichorous at 10:17 AM on September 22, 2007


I used to wonder how shitty it must've been to live through the fifties . I no longer wonder.
posted by Skygazer at 10:20 AM on September 22, 2007


I suggest someone find the news articles online that doctorschlock mentions, and do a FPP.
Unlike most of these stories, at least there is a (semi) happy ending :)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:31 AM on September 22, 2007


Because dudes carrying kilo of coke hidden with any of a thousand clever methods are surely going to be reading drug legalization books.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:39 AM on September 22, 2007


What a horror story doctorschlock. Sorry to had to survive such a nightmare invasion of your privacy and grotesque, ignorant, paranoid, public stockading.

Why have the damn book in the library in the first place if they thought so idiotically it was dangerous? Maybe they had it there as some kind of lure? Either way, yikes.

Since I wasn't so familiar with your MeFi comments, I had a quick look and noticed a while back you mentioned the Budd Dwyer suicide haunted you. I didn't know about that story, Googled it and was shocked to see how being scapegoated impacted him.

Scapegoating is a troubling social phenomenon. I've only researched it as a function of dysfunctional family dynamics, as it pertains to the behavior of pathological narcissists, scapegoating one child and pedestalizing another or when it was an aspect of Hitler's regime. So I Wikipediaed scapegoat and find the following concept interesting.

"Humans are driven by desire for that which another has or wants (mimetic desire). This causes a triangulation of desire and results in conflict between the desiring parties. This mimetic contagion increases to a point where society is at risk; it is at this point that the scapegoat mechanism is triggered. This is the point where one person is singled out as the cause of the trouble and is expelled or killed by the group. This person is the scapegoat. Social order is restored as people are contented that they have solved the cause of their problems by removing the scapegoated individual, and the cycle begins again."

Scapegoating, when combined with inept or politically twisted profiling would seem a predictable outcome of this Automated Targeting System.
posted by nickyskye at 10:39 AM on September 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Found an article with similar details, but it doesn't match exactly and I have no name and no location to confirm.
posted by dilettante at 10:40 AM on September 22, 2007


Library of Congress.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:43 AM on September 22, 2007


Cjorgensen:I know that sounds Orwellian, but until I hear about a blond haired woman from Minnesota trying to take over a plane, these people just won't scare me as much.

This makes no sense whatsoever. Here's an example of why. When I was a young juvenile delinquent, my friends and I were world class beer stealers. Our strategy? Send the Black Guy(me) in first. I would wander around aimlessly on the opposite side of the store sending store security into all kinds of code red, operation delta type maneuvers. This was before surveillance cameras were omnipresent, and usually security never even tried to be discreet about it. They would openly follow me through the store. Meanwhile, my white friends would be on the other side of the store, completely unwatched, filling their backpacks with 40's. We did this a lot.

If a bunch of no-good 14 year olds can figure out how to game a profiling system, I'm sure the terrists can figure it out as well.

I know, I know, stealing is bad. But so is profiling, and so is this country's ridiculous policy of not selling Malt Liquor to 14 year olds. Profiling, targeting, rampant privacy invading is all terrible, not because it hurts my feelings, but because it flat out doesn't make us any safer.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:50 AM on September 22, 2007 [21 favorites]


The irony of it all was that people knew me for having a strange sense of humor and that's what I thought I was being attacked for...but it went deeper than that. When I returned to work one of my ex-supervisors had dismantled my workstation and threw out anything associated with it in the trash. He didn't expect me to pass the investigation. He was the main person calling me a satanist. When i got back to work, my ex-boss placed me under this guys watch and he gave me hell. I had to file a grievance to get him off my back.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:50 AM on September 22, 2007


They even grabbed my cassette single of some BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY songs and thought it was evil. A female co-worker said that if I wanted to get them off my back,
maybe I shouldn't bring in this devil type music. I explained to them that it was a swing band.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:53 AM on September 22, 2007


Here's the NPR story.
posted by medialyte at 11:02 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


doctorschlock, Oh damn, that library, The Library of frikkin Congress.

They even grabbed my cassette single of some BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY songs and thought it was evil.

Sounds like the place is run by a bunch of rabid, nutcase, fundie hillbillies. *cue Twilight Zone music spliced with Chiller Theater.

I was right there agreeing with you billyfleetwood until "this country's ridiculous policy of not selling Malt Liquor to 14 year olds". Say wha? Doesn't it make common sense that teens shouldn't be given full license to get plastered at will? I think teens are great but they're not renowned for making wise, steady, mature decisions when it comes to their or others' safety.
posted by nickyskye at 11:07 AM on September 22, 2007


Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is indeed evil, but I don't think even Satan claims them as his own.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:11 AM on September 22, 2007


Okay, doctorschlock. That NPR story explains pretty well how you got totally screwed. Still, in your original comment you said:

This goes for libraries too. If you take out or read any types of subversive lit. Your name goes on a list. I took some books out and my name was added.

Unless that NPR story was incorrect, that isn't at all what happened. WTF, doctorschlock??
posted by found missing at 11:16 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Alligator Girl thing was what i thought this whole thing was about too, but I wasn't told what I was being investigated for so I volunteered that information. The charge of me being led away following a loud outburst was when i had a heart attack at work. Something called tachychardia arrythmia.
I was seen leaving the LC on a stretcher. I collect trading cards and they thought i was glorifying serial killers with my true crime cards.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:20 AM on September 22, 2007


I was told that if you took out any books of question at the LC
that you're name was automatically put on a list. How this happens I do not know. I was told this by an ex-employee who used to work in the loan division.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:23 AM on September 22, 2007


Going Postal
posted by doctorschlock at 1:03 PM on September 22

The Terry Pratchett novel?
posted by joannemerriam at 11:28 AM on September 22, 2007


The bottom line is that I'm an individual free spirited person and most people are afraid of that.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:30 AM on September 22, 2007


If forget the authors name but it was about a guy not wanting to follow in the footsteps of his father who was a mailman.
A simple comedy novel. I haven't read a book in years since then.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:31 AM on September 22, 2007


This thread has gotten very weird. I'm putting all your names on a list.
posted by found missing at 11:34 AM on September 22, 2007


fundie hillbillies ....nope just some backwards black and white folks. At our office social gatherings..the blacks sit with the black folk..the whites sit with the white folk..and the cool people walk around with each other. If you can't answer what church you worship in.... then you must be...a....
posted by doctorschlock at 11:37 AM on September 22, 2007


You better believe this threads gotten weird.
Yikes! You blew my cover. *opens a manhole cover and jumps in* "Must return to the underground. Must change my Metafilter name. Must lose weight."
posted by doctorschlock at 11:39 AM on September 22, 2007


Yeah, was worried about your cover being blown. Sad about the backwards aspect of your work environment. Sadly, I know that kind of divisive scenario to be still true in other work environments, among other racial or religious groups.

Already a scapegoating environment, divisive and judgmental. It's not such a huge leap to other kinds of profiling. That's what scary about the malice in this profiling system. The profiling, when it comes to people who are an actual danger to society, isn't usually being done wisely. In fact, the really dangerous people end up in charge of the entire country.

Drat, something's wrong with my Real Player and I can't hear the NPR radio show. What was the gist of it?

On the first page of the Going Postal book by Terry Pratchett it says, "I told then I'd be back"
posted by nickyskye at 11:53 AM on September 22, 2007


Going Postal book by Terry Pratchett

Wrong book. The book I had was actually a comedy novel.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:57 AM on September 22, 2007


Nickyskye, not only do I believe that 14 year olds should be able to buy Malt liquor, I think ONLY 14 year olds should be able to buy the vile stuff. Puberty is a rough time, and teenagers need to self-medicate more than anyone.

Kidding of course.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:58 AM on September 22, 2007


Puberty is a rough time, and teenagers need to self-medicate more than anyone.

funny :)
posted by nickyskye at 12:06 PM on September 22, 2007


Yummy! Ill-gotten booze...really warms the tummy!
I remember those malt liquor days. Sweet tastin and super fast buzz. All 42 ounces.
posted by doctorschlock at 12:08 PM on September 22, 2007


i check "radical" books so "they" will come and see me....I'm lonely and could use they "traitor" cash.
posted by clavdivs at 12:09 PM on September 22, 2007


Going Postal by Stephen Jaramillo ?
posted by nickyskye at 12:12 PM on September 22, 2007


*"I told them I'd be back"
posted by nickyskye at 12:13 PM on September 22, 2007


This thread has gotten very weird. I'm putting all your names on a list.

Don't forget me!

One of the things I don't understand about the government building these great big giant lists is how they're supposed to find anything useful, given what has to be an appalling signal-to-noise ratio.

I know that sounds Orwellian, but until I hear about a blond haired woman from Minnesota trying to take over a plane, these people just won't scare me as much.

Timothy McVeigh
Eric Rudolph
John Lindh

Now, the analogy's not perfect - I don't know if any of them are blond, they're certainly not female, and one was arguably functioning as a soldier (in a foreign country) during a war, and not a terrorist. I won't argue that all profiling is worthless - I think that, used properly, and in a larger context of information, it can be a part of the puzzle - but more often than not it's a lazy way to gather info of dubious value. Not all Muslims are brown-skinned, or terrorists, and not all terrorists are extremist Muslims.
posted by rtha at 12:14 PM on September 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Going Postal by Stephen Jaramillo

"That's it" he yells like Charlie Brown in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, " That's the book i was telling you about,
thanks nickyskye!" Cue: Vince Guiraldi music.
posted by doctorschlock at 12:18 PM on September 22, 2007


i check "radical" books so "they" will come and see me....I'm lonely and could use they "traitor" cash.posted by clavdivs

Nope! It depends on where u work and who works with u.
posted by doctorschlock at 12:22 PM on September 22, 2007


Note the date on the NPR report: 1998. Which either indicates this is all meaningless, or that it's the sign of even deeper problems than those started by 9/11 hysteria.

I don't know. doctorschlock's statements (and he's made rather a lot of them) caused me to expect a more recent event. I guess I'm with quonsar on this one, something doesn't feel right. Maybe I'm a suspicious bastard....
posted by JHarris at 12:26 PM on September 22, 2007


even deeper problems than those started by 9/11 hysteria

Like badgov/scapegoating/profiling issues weren't happening way before 9/11?
posted by nickyskye at 12:36 PM on September 22, 2007


Hey JHarris! It's still going on. We have workplace violence
rules too. You can't shake your fist. I raised my voice at
my new boss and got a written warning.
posted by doctorschlock at 12:54 PM on September 22, 2007


I don't know. doctorschlock's statements (and he's made rather a lot of them) caused me to expect a more recent event. I guess I'm with quonsar on this one, something doesn't feel right. Maybe I'm a suspicious bastard....

I was riding in an elevator one time with 2 supervisors. Someone had written, 'Poontang', on the wall. They didn't know what it meant so I told them. One of them said, "You seem to know what the word means...you probably wrote it."
He was serious too.
posted by doctorschlock at 12:58 PM on September 22, 2007


Say wha? Doesn't it make common sense that teens shouldn't be given full license to get plastered at will? I think teens are great but they're not renowned for making wise, steady, mature decisions when it comes to their or others' safety.

I'd offer that it doesn't make complete sense. In many cultures, people start learning about alcohol far earlier.

As clean-cut as it might be from a legal standpoint, we all know that people don't suddenly gain situational clarity once they reach a particular age. Rather, mature decision-making comes from repeat exposure to situations, causes and effects, theory and practice. It doesn't do to hide subjects like sex, drugs and alcohol from people for 18 or 21 years and then expect them to leap into adult life with wax wings, flying the middle path. We've all met the products of this sort of sheltering: people still in their mental infancy, in many ways, but with access to every adult "vice" on campus. Of course they won't find balance.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:17 PM on September 22, 2007


Well, hopefully you believe him now, after it's been substantiated. If you still don't, (as your tense implies), do be quiet about it, he's probably caught enough grief already.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:19 PM on September 22, 2007


Hmm... could this explain why I was stopped for 3 hours by TSA while coming back from Jamaica. The "interview" took a long time because the woman kept going through my bags and then going to another room then coming back to check my bags...

I was asked a couple times if I'd been to Cuba, and while I hadn't, I did have a book of my GF's in my bag that she then pulled out that was ABOUT CUBA... I missed my connecting flight.
posted by stratastar at 1:21 PM on September 22, 2007


I don't expect that terrorists will ever be able to take over a plane again, at least not in our lifetimes.

Everyone now knows, or more dangerously assumes, that a hijacked plane is going to be crashed into something at full throttle.

That means every man, woman, and android on the plane is going to fight, to the death, against whomever is trying to hijack them.

It wouldn't matter if the hijackers had a gun or a bazooka or a flamethrower.

From now on, the only way it could be pulled off would be for hijackers to buy every seat on the plane.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:32 PM on September 22, 2007


/derail

In many cultures, people start learning about alcohol far earlier.

Yeah, but I don't think teens can buy booze (malt liquor that billyfleetwood talked about is interesting because it has higher alcohol than regular beer) at 14 in those countries either, except for France where it's ok for a teen to buy beer at 14. Now you had me go to Wikipedia and look up the dang legal status of drinking thing...

".. in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Austria, one has to be 16 to buy beer or wine and 18 to buy distilled alcoholic beverages. Denmark however allows purchasing of all types of alcohol after the age of 16. Germany's law is directed toward sellers of alcoholic beverages, not toward minors themselves; German law puts control concerning the consumption of alcoholic beverage in the hands of custodial persons and persons with parental power. In the United Kingdom, the minimum age for purchasing alcohol is 18, although minors are legally allowed to consume alcohol in the home from the age of five; in addition, shop workers under 18 may not legally sell alcohol by themselves. In France, people must be 14 to buy beer, 16 for wine and 18 to buy distilled alcoholic beverages. In Australia, the age for the purchase and possession of alcohol is 18, but it may be consumed in the home or under adult supervision at any age.In the United States, the legal age for purchase or possession (but not necessarily consumption) in every state has been 21 since the passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, which tied federal highway funds to states' raising their minimum drinking age to 21."

In the UK "minors are legally allowed to consume alcohol in the home from the age of five". Yikes. Wonder how wise that is.

Interesting how those statistics impact alcoholism.
posted by nickyskye at 1:46 PM on September 22, 2007


I remember that for a long time the fundie Christians feared government tracking. You know, barcodes were going to be the first step to everyone having the mark of the beast on their forehead.

Why aren't the fundies outraged by this? Where are the Chick tracts explaining how government tracking is part of Satan's plan for enabling persecution of identified Christians?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:02 PM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Government official uses Homeland Security data to stalk ex-girlfriend.
posted by nickyskye at 2:26 PM on September 22, 2007


From now on, the only way it could be pulled off would be for hijackers to buy every seat on the plane.

Or be one of the pilots. There is speculation that EgyptAir Flight 990's plunge into the Atlantic just south of Nantucket on October 31, 1999 was a suicide/deliberate crash caused by First Officer Gameel Al-Batouti.
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on September 22, 2007


Government official uses Homeland Security data to stalk ex-girlfriend.

And then there John Bolton's 10 requests to learn the names of U.S. citizens mentioned in intercepted communications.
"The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Thursday sent Bolton's nomination to become U.N. ambassador to the full Senate without endorsement, had sought to learn the details of Bolton's requests, including the names. But the National Security Agency this week agreed only to brief the two top senators on the Select Committee on Intelligence on the intercepts that had prompted Bolton's requests -- and even then would not provide the names.

State Department officials said Bolton sought the names to better understand the context of the intercepts he was reading. But opponents have speculated widely about possible motives. Under U.S. law, references to U.S. citizens, U.S. companies or even foreign citizens visiting the United States must be censored from the intercepts and can be disclosed to analysts and policymakers only under specific circumstances."
posted by ericb at 2:37 PM on September 22, 2007


The tiny (GPS) electronic strips we have in our ID's here at work shows BIG BROTHER our every movement. It's the technology of Star Trek. The Gov. spent almost its entire budget installing them in every room at the library. In the reading room where i work...there are over 20 cameras pointing at you..and those are the ones you see.

JHarris if you don't believe me...come on down and look up when you enter. You might not like what you find.
posted by doctorschlock at 2:45 PM on September 22, 2007


cjorgensen writes "ericb, would rather we 'randomly' selected people with previous travel to suspect places than randomly search people that make no sense to search."

I don't know. Do you want security theatre or actual security?
posted by Mitheral at 2:58 PM on September 22, 2007


I know that sounds Orwellian, but until I hear about a blond haired woman from Minnesota trying to take over a plane, these people just won't scare me as much.

Actually, she was not from Minnesota, but there was already one blond female suicide bomber from Belgium.

Anyway, if strange are the ways of the Lord, those of the TSA regarding those "Specially Selected for Secondary Screening" (SSSS on the boarding card) are downright baffling. The last time I visited the US, I flew with a colleague, and both of us got the full treatment on every single leg of the journey (four flights). Now, I have never been to the Middle East, and although I had been to Cuba the year before, I still find it strange that we were tagged despite the fact that we worked for an international organisation and in that trip were visiting several aerospace companies, including the factory where the Blackhawk helicopters are built (for which visit we had got a special State Department clearance).
posted by Skeptic at 3:12 PM on September 22, 2007


The people shaping so-called Homeland Securty seem to admire terror, attempt to inspire it in the US population by invading countries, misplacing nuclear warheads, using tasers to silence free speech at politcal gatherings and elsewhere, military use of pain-ray guns, snooping, dossier accumulating on ordinary citizens. It seems less like a War on Terror and more like this regime's Love Affair With Terror.
posted by nickyskye at 4:13 PM on September 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


From now on, the only way it could be pulled off would be for hijackers to buy every seat on the plane.

Well for g-d's sake now you've gone and told them how to do it. Sheesh.
posted by nax at 4:59 PM on September 22, 2007


nickyskye, that wikipedia link to ATS looks like it has its neutrality in dispute as posted from this IP: 63.167.255.26 PTR record: unwgsgs4.cbp.dhs.gov.

Ha ha.
posted by birdie birdington at 5:43 PM on September 22, 2007


Ha ha indeed! With a yikes thrown in.
posted by nickyskye at 6:15 PM on September 22, 2007


I think I have made a powerful enemy today.
posted by topynate at 8:14 PM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bravo topynate.
posted by nickyskye at 8:28 PM on September 22, 2007


In the UK "minors are legally allowed to consume alcohol in the home from the age of five". Yikes. Wonder how wise that is

My family was a little closer to its European roots and booze in the home was never an issue, and I can remember at family gatherings being given beer and wine - my exposure to booze then taught me it really didn't appeal to young taste buds. In my mid-teens, when "social drinking" became more important, I acquired the taste for it. Not sure what that says, but I don't think restricting booze sells benefits society very much.
posted by Deep Dish at 8:35 PM on September 22, 2007


Now, I have never been to the Middle East, and although I had been to Cuba the year before, I still find it strange that we were tagged despite the fact that we worked for an international organisation and in that trip were visiting several aerospace companies, including the factory where the Blackhawk helicopters are built (for which visit we had got a special State Department clearance).

Sorry for the double post, but I always get flight delays too (white skin, blue eyes, brown hair). I frequently get asked about ties to communist and socialist movements, both when driving into the USA and in airports. I must be one of the last red scare affectees. This never happens in other countries I am not sure what caused this - I have some past ties to a socialist party (one that governs my province, not some underground org, and I am centrist) and I had lived and worked in Vietnam for a while recently but this line of questioning has been applied to me for my entire adult life. The screening criteria would really be something to see.
posted by Deep Dish at 8:43 PM on September 22, 2007


“If you’re going to do cybersecurity, you have to spy on Americans to secure Americans,” said a former government official familiar with NSA operations. “It would be a very major step.”
posted by homunculus at 12:16 AM on September 23, 2007


No Dragnet, No Billions in Fines: Why Do Nation's Spying Telcos Need Immunity From Congress
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on September 24, 2007


"You seem to know what the word means...you probably wrote it."

I still get that a lot. Big vocabulary. I read a lot. I say something and I get this blank look back and a sort of mumbling. Sometimes makes me unpopular, especially in the military. But there was a nice “heh heh, yeah, y’know, I can kill you with my hands or from a thousand meters out, heh heh” thing going on so no one ever really directly confronted me with b.s. But that doesn’t save your bacon from being stoned by the masses.
Clearly this is a tool of intimidation. Wish I knew a better way to kick it in the pants. Good thing for the civil liberties lawyers.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:22 PM on September 24, 2007


No Dragnet, No Billions in Fines: Why Do Nation's Spying Telcos Need Immunity From Congress

When I read that, I thought it said "...Why Do Nation's Flying Tacos Need Immunity..."

Why indeed.
posted by rtha at 3:15 PM on September 24, 2007


Playing politics with terror
posted by homunculus at 7:59 PM on September 24, 2007


Better link: Bush Used Bogus Terror Threat To Scare Votes For FISA Bill
posted by homunculus at 11:48 AM on September 25, 2007


Court Strikes Down 2 Key Patriot Act Provisions
posted by homunculus at 5:36 PM on September 26, 2007


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