In Airport 'Pat-Downs' and Fear of Retaliation, Dan Gillmor links to a New York Times story about U.S. airport screening and women who are humiliated but afraid to retaliate. This is how profiling and lists will begin to inhibit our actions and free speech. What's your national ID # again?

16 Comments

Notice that they use the possibility of smuggling bombs as an excuse, citing the possibility (not known for sure) that some Chechen women did this recently. And they started doing shoe searches after the guy put something in his shoe.

I'm just waiting for the day some suicide bomber stuffs plastiques up his butt. Then we'll all be subject to anal probes before boarding.

Awesome.

Why don't these people complain to their senators or congressmen? Surely they could trust their public representatives to handle their complaints without revealing their identities?

gawd, you people will be the same ones to say how come they didn't do these checks when a bomb goes off in a plane.

What would YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?

Chomper, I'd say the pilot program at Logan, what they call behavioral assessment profiling but what I call regular police work, is a step in the right direction.

On the other hand, computerized risk profiling, which is what's driving most current efforts, is counterproductive in that it isn't too difficult to figure out how to create a passenger with a low-risk profile. So in addition to stripping citizens of their dignity, current efforts actually make it easier for terrorists.

Exactly, the same problem occurs when you step into racial profiling waters. A couple of years ago, I overhead two Americans talking about how "racial profiling is the most effective method to prevent terrorism, because most terrorists are young Arab males, not elderly Asian ladies".

Then, when an elderly Asian lady actually blows up a plane one day, they will have themselves to thank for creating a low-risk profile.

Boo and Steve,
What you are saying is true but ignores the realities of the political reactions to failures to stop attacks: if you don't do things that may indeed have been dumb ideas you can still be held brutally to task for not doing so by an angry public in the wake of an attack. Security people are screwed either way. If the person fitting our sterotypes commits an outrage, people will say "why the hell didn't you stop him. Isn't it obvious he fit the profile?" and if the attacker confounds our expectations the same people would say "well, why did you waste any time profiling anyway?"
I guess in the end I believe that the problem is partly one of philosophy, and part of the problem therein is, IMHO, buried in boo's statements. This is not really about policing. This is a war. Maybe not in the far flung, "implies anything and everything" sense of Pres. Bush, but at the same time I find the law enforecement perspective wholly unrealistic as well. This war may involve dimensions and angles that our gov't has been reluctant to recognize, and maybe the US gov't has also pushed the whole war analogy toward angles and dimensions not really appropriate to this setting, but, nonetheless, this is a war. It is unique in that we are all regarded as combatants by the enemy. But the real question on a social level is basically the same as if we had been formal soldiers: how many casualties is a given objective worth (balancing that against the alternative costs that we could incur, or failure to achieve the objective)? This is how military decisions are made all the time. We decided that Iwo Jima, Saipan, etc. were worth thousands of US casualties. But tons of other less famous little rocks out in the Pacific were judged not worth the casualties that would have been required to take them. In Fallujah, we had to balance fulfilling our objectives to the greatest degree possible (destroying entirely the militant infrastructure, such as it was-or is) against the costs to US troops and civilians. A balance was struck. You may not agree with it, but one was struck. So too with our security here. We are in a war and losses are inevitable. So the real question is, how much of a price are we willing to pay in terms of lost lives, lost dignity, etc. to thwart the terrorists and win handily? I'm not saying I have an answer, but I am saying that that is probably the context in which we need to decide to approach the problem. What combination of costs (lost dignity versus lost lives) are we willing to incur in this war? To suggest otherwise (and I'm not saying boo did: I realize that I'm off on a tangent here) misses the point, I think.

Welcome to army, soldiers.

Sorry, welcome to THE army, soldiers.

Peter: Your first para of course makes sense, but your 2nd is 377 words that can be restated where do we draw the line...

'Feliks Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police, saw Bismarck's motto and raised him an execution: "Better to execute ten innocent men than to leave one guilty man alive." ... The military motif appears quite often among n-skeptics.'

http://www1.law.ucla.edu/~volokh/guilty.htm

Take your uniform and move to a fascist state; I was born in the land of the free and the home of the brave, not some chickenshit dystopia.

Once the cockpits are adequately secured (which I'm not sure has been done yet), an airplane becomes an expensive flying bus. Terrorists have over 300M targets in this country; why the extreme focus on commercial aircraft? We're already seeing creeping fascism enter into stadium security, what's next, movie theaters?

Every time we get hassled as citizens in our own fucking country the terrorists win a little bit more.

as long as one does not live in the US or UK, national IDs are just fine both in terms of usability and privacy. Those two communities are just fixated with all things anal. Thats it.

Once the cockpits are adequately secured? Ah, Troy: always preparing for the last fight, I see. Give the terrorists some credit: next time they're probably going to bring a new trick.
You can get as angry with me as you want: I am the messenger. As long as people who act on their violent instincts see us in the light that they do and are prepared to pursue the targets they are, it doesn't matter whether you like it or not. We did not ask for this fight, but the fight is upon.

Chickenshit dystopia? This is the absurd alternative to the claims by the right that this war justifies anything at home.

By the way, you're living in the land of the free because it has been the home of those brave enough to face the brutal arithmetic of the threats of their age. The two don't arise organically at the same time. One begets the other.


Sorry about 377 words, Troy. Sorry to add complexity to your life. But your summary is in fact off point. There is a tradeoff. I remained agnostic about the "better to" point. Spend more time thinking about what you read and less desperately trying to appear clever.

Eat some turkey. Drink some wine. It will sedate you.

Your flying bus view is really strange. It reminds me of the endless series of politicians, security officials, commentators, etc. in the course of the war in Northern Ireland (maybe you should read more about that to try undertand my point, though in that threats were pretty much internal to the UK) who proclaimed on one occasion after another something to the effect of "And, with these new measures in place, we feel confident that the IRA will never again be able to commit an atrocity on the scale of it's latest attacks" only to see the IRA successfully take up the challenge.

What is chickenshit, sir, is failing to recognize that, for all citizens, the security and survival of a society like ours depends on balancing rights and responsibilities as circumstances shift. Our society is simply not built on rights alone, and the men who founded understood that. Those who guided her through her darkest hour (I would argue the Civil War) understood that.

You may not like the idea of giving up freedom. That is fine: its your preference and you are entitled to it. But their will be an inevitable price to pay in lives beyond what would have been lost had some freedoms not been sacrificed. That is the tradeoff. Rejecting the fact that a tradeoff exists is not very responsible. We are in a war, and we this is the situation we are in.

The only thing I will grant you is that, whatever the tradeoffs in lost lives, security, and freedom, we should certainly to try to equalize the threat across the various easily forseeable avenues of attack. The extreme focus on aurcraft does seem strange.

My point, Peter, was that 9/11 succeeded on the scale it did since the terrorists were able to take command of a commercial airliner. Removing the physical possiblity of terrorists from entering the cockpit will quite largely prevent future mass-casualty and property damage incidents on the ground, and does not require submission to a police state like we are seeing now.

(Indeed, with our existing stock of airplanes the doors are not too terribly safe, and to my understanding only El Al's cockpits are hardened sufficiently (eg. the cockpit door is never opened while passengers are aboard)).

Terrorists will ALWAYS be able to inflict hundreds if not thousands of casualties in a well-placed attack; placing an obstruction on a railroad track, etc.

Terrorism targetting commercial airlines has been a plague for 30+ years; I was too young for the 70's incidents but well remember the TWA incident of 1985.

But once an aircraft is on the ground, aside from the monetary value of the aircraft (piddling in the scale of things) the passengers become hostages of more common class, eg. terrorists 'hijacking' a theater or indeed a bus.

Passengers smuggling bombs aboard are indeed a larger threat, due to their ability to try to down the airliner on final or at another time when its crash footprint would cause more damage on the ground, but in my estimation the threat from surface to air missilies is orders of MAGNITUDE greater (the immediate post-9/11 crash in NY was possibly due to a SAM).

And Peter, I'm not angry at you, I'm angry at all chickenshit fascists like you arguing for such bullshit ineffective ass-covering odious heavy-handed PR campaigns like the TSA.


I basically don't want to continue this converstion (and not because I'm prepared to addres your statements accordingly).
Maybe if you were old enough to remember the Seventies you would approach your interactions with others in a more mature fashion.


Your condescension and inability to address the issues are noted. Way to troll, guy.

(and the funny thing is I've probably just put all Troy's in the world on the No Fly list... Sorry!)

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