One person who seems to have the answer is Rep. John Mica, the Florida Republican who is set to chair the Transportation Committee. Mica co-wrote the bill establishing the TSA in 2001, just over a month after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC. A little-known provision in that bill allowed airports to "opt out" from the federal agency's security umbrella and to instead hire private contractors. As Media Matters pointed out recently, the whole reason why the TSA was formed was because private contractors paying airport security minimum wages were considered a big part of the reason why the 9/11 terror attacks were allowed to happen. Since the formation of the TSA, not a single terror attack originating from an American airport has taken place. But apparently that's not nearly as relevant as the complaints of a few libertarians.
The links between Mica, the libertarians, the Kochs, and the TSA scandal are only now emerging, and we hope more journalists will dig deeper. So far, we have learned:Mica's longtime chief of staff, Russell Roberts, lists the Koch-backed Mercatus Center as the top sponsor of Roberts' privately financed travel expenses, according to Congressional travel disclosure forms. Roberts stated in his form that he participated in discussions related to "transportation policy."
In 2005, Mica reportedly came out in favor of backscatter X-ray machines, or "porn scan" body scanners, which he now opposes.
Immediately after the launching of the "National Opt-Out Campaign" by Washington grassroots lobbyist and "ordinary citizen" Brian Sodergren, Rep. Mica sent out letters to the heads of at least 100 airports across America advising them to "opt out" of the government-funded TSA program and hand over the job to private contractors. One of the first airports to sign on to Rep. Mica's privatization program, Orlando's Sanford Airport, happens to lie in Rep. Mica's district. The airport also happens to be a client of Rep. Mica's daughter, D'Anne Mica, who is listed as a partner in two lobbying/PR firms consulted by Sanford Airport. One of Ms. Mica's PR firms, "Grasshopper Media," boasts of its "history of success in organizing strategic and comprehensive grassroots campaigns." In other words: astroturfing.
According to a recent AP article, "Companies that could gain business if airports heed Mica's call have helped fill his campaign coffers. In the past 13 years, Mica has received almost $81,000 in campaign donations from political action committees and executives connected to some of the private contractors already at 16 U.S. airports." ("Airports Consider Congressman's Call to Ditch the TSA")While so far there is no "smoking gun" linking Rep. Mica to the anti-TSA campaign, there is clearly enough evidence to call into question the official version of events as a "spontaneous" outbreak of anti-TSA hysteria carried out by "ordinary guys" that it claims to be. Instead, there is plenty of evidence of a coordinated campaign for purposes that are only just beginning to emerge—a campaign with a profit motive and a political objective.
It is worthwhile to note that your sympathies are being deliberately manipulated here and that this is one of the ways that the exercise of power becomes self-concealing and self-effacing; it is worthwhile to compare this to the experience of talking to a call center employee when trying to address or fight against some unfair exercise of corporate power. In either (and any similar) case, the actual exercise of power at the point of human interaction is assigned to a person least able to do anything about its unfairness.
That first bit is, conveniently enough, a right-wing talking point that Marcotte dismantled just a few hours ago.
While so far there is no "smoking gun" linking Rep. Mica to the anti-TSA campaign, there is clearly enough evidence to call into question the official version of events as a "spontaneous" outbreak of anti-TSA hysteria carried out by "ordinary guys" that it claims to be. Instead, there is plenty of evidence of a coordinated campaign for purposes that are only just beginning to emerge—a campaign with a profit motive and a political objective.
We're going on ten years in which we've been conditioned to think that terrorism is such a threat that really any expense -- literal or no -- is warranted in preventing it. Vast wars leading to thousands of American dead and hundreds of billions of dollars of expense. Vast numbers of Iraqis or Afghans dead. No price too high to pay. Various constitutional protections dispensed with? No problem. And if you think it's a problem get in the line marked "Pansy Weak-Kneed Terror Lovers" not the line for "Real Americans". They'll process you're application there. But a simple pat-down, which might be a little awkward and weird, but basically who cares? Well, geez, life and security bought at too high a price is just not worth it.
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