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The Economic Imagination
Do We Need a Department of Homeland Security or a TSA?
Jan. 21 2011 – 1:30 pm
By ART CARDEN
The new Republican House of Representatives took office amidst much fanfare about the US Constitution and respecting Constitutional limits on government. I have suggested that if they are really serious about it, they will start by abolishing the Transportation Security Administration. Not much has changed in the last few weeks. Indeed, we can do without the whole “Homeland Security” charade.
Defenders of the Department of Homeland Security and TSA ask whether we are willing to sacrifice safety and security to avoid being inconvenienced. There is no evidence that this works. I have said it before and I will say it again: the data suggest that if anything, the TSA actually costs lives.
No doubt, there are plenty of people who heartily endorse increasingly-invasive measures employed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration because it makes them feel safe. That feeling of safety is an illusion. As Bruce Schneier and others have pointed out, the entire operation is “security theater” that costs us time and money while leaving us no safer. As Wikileaks is showing us, an opaque government saying “just trust us” is not to be trusted.
In spite of the evidence, the national security state gets larger and more invasive. In a truly creepy turn of events, the DHS is trying to deputize all of us into a nationwide spy network and enlisting the power of Walmart to do it. As someone whose research interests include the effects of Walmart and the political economy of institutions, I can’t help but wonder which combination of carrots and sticks motivated such “patriotism.”
Future generations will look back on the early twenty-first century security state as an interesting exercise in the triumph of politics over everything, including peace, prosperity, and safety. In a recent Foreign Policy essay, Anne Applebaum adds to the cloud of witnesses testifying that Homeland Security is an expensive sham. Most specifically, she points out how homeland security spending is a gigantic pork barrel with political considerations exercising undue influence over how the money is spent.
Applebaum offers as one example the million dollars of Homeland Security money that funded an “emergency operations center” in tiny Poynette, Wisconsin. I have nothing against the people of Poynette, but it is almost certainly a less inviting target than a major metropolitan area like New York or Boston. Applebaum points out–correctly–that a dollar spent on a Poynette emergency operations center probably delivers a lot less Homeland Security than a dollar spent in New York or Boston. The million dollars spent in Poynette is a million dollars that can’t be spent elsewhere. All else equal, we should spend our homeland security dollars addressing the greatest risks.
Critics of President Obama’s health care proposal have questioned it on Constitutional grounds. Others have decried the practice of voting on legislation before it is read. Commentators on the right made sport of Democrats’ claim that legislation had to be passed so that we can find out what is in it, and yet if there is an example of “pass it to find out what is in it” legislation, it is the PATRIOT Act, which was passed by near-unanimous votes in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a Senate in which the Democrats only held a one-seat majority. It was signed by a Republican President.
The Department of Homeland Security and the TSA are clear examples of trading something to get–not nothing, but actually less than nothing because they actual imperil our safety. If we are serious about the Constitution and serious about security, we will get rid of them.
You can also see this and more in the latest from AOPA!
Posted: January 24th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
2 Comments »
From Atlantic Magazine (Jan/Feb 2011):
Jeffrey Goldberg, an apparent security expert, tells all that he can just walk out at Teterboro and get on a jet. Failing completely to do any background investigation or even mention the four programs in effect for Part 135 operators, and to make sure he’s covered all the bases, he asks his friend, the non-pilot that invited him along, what security measures are in place. This other obvious expert alludes to it only taking money.
“I’ve been writing for years about the TSA, and about the uneven and unthinking methods it employs to secure our nation’s commercial airports. I had been under the impression that the TSA stationed personnel at many general-aviation terminals, but it typically does not. The general-aviation industry is almost entirely “self-regulated.” The TSA has proposed that it be allowed to impose certain security measures on private jets, such as requiring operators to ensure that their passengers are not on the no-fly list, but for now the agency screens only those Americans who cannot afford to fly on private planes. The TSA administrator, John Pistole, suggested he sees a less substantial threat from general aviation than he does in the commercial realm, and the general- aviation “community” is not enthusiastic about government regulation. “Clearly the general-aviation community has a lot of equities and interest in our rules,” he told me, delicately. The TSA does, however, distribute helpful tips to those who work at private- aviation airports, including, “Always lock your aircraft.” And there is this warning: call 911 if you happen to notice “pilots appearing to be under the control of others.”
I am not a terrorist, but I do share one goal with al-Qaeda: I too would like to have a pilot under my control. But, like most Americans, and presumably unlike al-Qaeda, I am not quite rich enough to buy my way out of airport security. “
Note the numerous mentions of being able to “afford’ to fly on private aircraft. The class struggle of the downtrodden comes out. The fact the average GA aircraft costs the same as a bass boat doesn’t seem to get mentioned; it’s all about pain, like Senator Rockerfeller (D-WV) said, he has to stand in line and we don’t.
What seems to upset these people so is not that there’s GA in this country but that they aren’t a part of it.
As a case in point, Mr. James Fallows, another reporter for Atlantic, is an instrument rated pilot. On 7 Jan 2011 he posted he will be happy to take Mr. Goldberg flying and assuage his fears about the menace of GA. Good for him!
This irresponsible reporting is what gets us in trouble. We are an unknown and therefore scary, to a lot of people. Get out there, take your representatives flying. Take a reporter flying. Take a neighbor flying.
And don’t forget to call and fax your representatives…
Posted: January 13th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
1 Comment »
By HERB KEINON
From the Jerusalam Post, my comments will be interspersed throughout with some apologies to the author and none to the idiots trying to make this a police state…
Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano tells ‘Post’ that the US, like Israel, has “Intelligence based” methods that focuses on travelers.
But it doesn’t, it focuses on nothing. That’s why we search grandmothers and my 9 year old but let muslim women have a pass because it’s against their religion to drop the veil. The TSA isn’t focusing on the threat, they are focusing on inconvenience to everybody in the name of security theater.
US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Tuesday deflected criticism that the American aviation safety system should be more like the Israeli one, telling The Jerusalem Post there is no one “cookie cutter” approach to security.
“One of the key differences obviously is one of size and scale,” Napolitano – in the country for two days – said in an interview. “Israel has one major international airport, which processes about 11 million enplanements a year. We did 770 million enplanements a year last year, out of 450 airports. So size and scale require some different approaches. But the goal is the same, the protection of the traveling public.”
Asked whether it would not be more efficient for the US – like Israel – to focus on seeking out the terrorist even if it entails profiling passengers, rather than looking for bomb-making material on every single passenger, Napolitano said it was as a “misconception” to think that in the US “we only do aviation security at the gate.
Apparently you don’t do much of it there. The terrorist attempts in this country have all been stopped by passengers. In fact the terrorist that tried to light up Times Square was found ON AN AIRPLANE because your vaunted “technology data bases” don’t work worth a damn.
“We actually have an intelligencebased approach that does focus on travelers, and that begins before the traveler arrives at the airport. We have a multilayered approach that is intelligencebased,” she said.
The technology at the airport is “the last line of protection before the plane takes off,” she added.
Technology is never the last line of defense you idiot, people are –ask the US Marines. You defeat the enemy with boots on the ground, or in the case, cops at the airport. You look in peoples’ eyes, not through a monitor but at the point, in the terminal, on the curb outside the terminal. Technology is a tool, like a hammer or a sidearm.
Napolitano, speaking on her way to Ben-Gurion Airport to inspect the system in place there, said that the US did have “behavior detection officers” at airports who were not seen.
“We do different things at different airports so that terrorists cannot rely on predictability in their arsenal,” she said.
And then you post them on the internet so everybody knows, meanwhile crapping all over a frustrated pilot who points out the same flaws I, personally, told Congress about eight years ago.
In addition, there were agreements in place “in terms of sharing information about passengers who have purchased tickets, in terms of their identities.
There are a whole set of things that happen before you even see a scanner at the airport,” she said.
But they couldn’t keep the Times Square bomber off an airplane, could they?
Regarding the highly controversial full-body pat-downs that have recently been put into place in US airports, Napolitano said there was no plan in the immediate future to change that procedure.
“We have actually been moving passengers speedily through the system, and part of it is that people are adjusting to the new system,” she said.
Because eventually people will get used to anything, even having their rights and persons violated in the name of National Security. Again “Big Brother” is here and he’s at the airport.
“As with anything we are always refining – procedures, technology and the like – but I don’t see any major change in the near future on that score.”
This must be where LASP, SD-8G, Operation Playbook, etc., etc., etc. comes in. Once again, a security program in search of a threat. You refuse to target where the threat is, you do everything in your power to bring everyone down to that level. Listen again to the broadcast on these pages of Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) at Pistole’s confirmation hearing. It’s about General Aviation feeling the same pain a passenger on an airliner feels. That’s all. Nothing about increases in security, nothing about safety, protection of infrastructure, just sharing the pain.
Napolitano met for nearly an hour on Tuesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and said the conversation focused on how to deal with illegal immigration, as well as the issue of cyber security.
Regarding illegal immigration, Napolitano said the discussion dealt with both how the US physically secured its long borders with Canada and Mexico, as well as with how the legal system dealt with illegal migrants.
That must be why the US government is suing Arizona…
Israel is building a physical and technological barrier along the 240-km. border with Egypt to keep out illegal migrants coming from Africa via Sinai.
Napolitano has also met since she arrived on Monday with President Shimon Peres, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.
Napolitano said the purpose of her visit, the first in her position as secretary of homeland security, was to “show that the US has long-standing unwavering support of Israel, and that we really share a common interest on the security side.”
Napolitano’s visit followed stops in Ireland, Afghanistan and Qatar.
We have a new Congress now, and while I’m not a big fan of Congress, they do hold the purse strings and that’s what gets people’s attention. It is not necessary for you or your five year old to be groped, it is necessary for the terrorist threat in this county to be stopped. There are ways to do that, they are not politically correct.
Posted: January 6th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized