” A new GAO report recommends that Congress end the SPOT program, which attempts to catch terrorists by suspicious behaviors they may exhibit at airport checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration currently spends more than $200 million a year on the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques program, even though there has been criticism from the start that there is no solid science behind it.
Here are observations about SPOT from my new Cato study on the TSA to be released next Tuesday:
The SPOT program illustrates the problems with top-down federal control over aviation security. ”
The Federal government , through the auspices of the TSA has wasted over a billion dollars in the past six years on a program that trains the TSA employees to “visually determine” likely terror suspects . When you are through laughing at the TSA’s well-publicized attempts at “profiling” potential terrorists (think nuns , grannies & 5 Year-olds) , consider the waste of time , money , liberty and human dignity that this six year fiasco represents.
” Paul Anthony Ciancia is a 23-year-old that was described by classmates as a loner. His family is from Salem, New Jersey. He was a victim of bullying during high school and played in the marching band. Many have speculated who is he, and most importantly to a few, what political party did he support. If you guessed “Tea Party”, you’d be wrong.
Well, as it turns out that the Salem County Clerk’s office has a way to tell you for sure. For $12, you can pull the voter registration records of anyone that signed up in the county. One man on the internet named “Mike” did just that to end the dispute once and for all. Turns out that the Paul Anthony Ciancia of Salem, New Jersey, born in 1990, that moved to LA, California, was a registered Democrat.”
It’s time to ban the hate … ban liberals with guns …
* UPDATE : This post has turned out to be popular beyond our wildest dreams so we felt the need for a bit of clarification . Due to a shortage in our editorial staff we were unable to corroborate the central claim to this story . Admittedly we only had an hour or so to try and find a link to the voter registration rolls and we failed to do so . It would have been very helpful had the original source provided a link to “Mike’s” disclosure and we would be grateful to any reader that can provide back-up to the assertion that Ciancia is in fact a registered democrat .
Until said corroboration comes to light we feel that we should qualify our assertion with the term “allegedly” in the hopes of maintaining our reputation for accuracy and so as to not become just another rumor-mongering rag like so much of the boot-licking MSM . In the meantime enjoy this video from earlier in the year that makes the point that a large proportion of America’s mass shooters come from the Left and are not , as the media would have you believe , “right-wing gun nuts” .
” Planning on flying anywhere for the holidays? If you owe back taxes, are a frequent flyer, or own a blog that is critical of the government, you might want to rethink your plans. Under the radar in October, the TSA tightened their screening guide lines to include these in their “screenings”. In fact they want a full background check.
The procedure has been in place but was not activated until recently. The TSA released the screening regulations in order to comply with government requirements. The new regulations put some of the data collection of the National Security Administration (NSA) scrutiny to shame. As usual the details of the new provisions were never announced to the public.
So what are the things they are looking in to? Here is a quick list from TSA and the New York Times.
- private employment information to include who you work for
- vehicle registrations
- travel history
- property ownership records and what property you claim
- physical characteristics
- tax identification numbers and tax history
- past travel itineraries
- law enforcement information
- “intelligence” information (the key word list used by the NSA)
- passport numbers
- frequent flier information
- other “identifiers” linked to DHS databases (including web history and information, critical speaking of the government)
It has gotten so far out of hand that people came to the New York Times to get the information out.
I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly,” said Edward Hasbrouck, a consultant to the Identity Project, one of the groups that oppose the prescreening initiatives. “The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion.” “
This is wrong on so many levels that we don’t even know where to start .
TSA Searches Valet Parked Cars
” She says she had no warning that someone was going to search her car after she left to catch her flight. So the woman contacted News10NBC.
We found out it happened to her because she valet parked her car. Those are the only cars that get inspected.
So if security feels it is necessary to search some cars in the name of safety, why not search all of them?
Laurie Iacuzza walked to her waiting car at the Greater Rochester International Airport after returning from a trip and that’s when she found it — a notice saying her car was inspected after she left for her flight. She said, “I was furious. They never mentioned it to me when I booked the valet or when I picked up the car or when I dropped it off.” “
” On April 3, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will hear an appeal for a lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) filed by two Harvard law students in 2010 claiming that their Fourth Amendment rights were violated by “nude body scanners” and “enhanced pat-downs.” The First Circuit is also allowing Freedom to Travel USA, an anti-TSA advocacy group, to make an appearance and oral arguments.
A victory on the side of the two students, Jeffrey Redfern and Anant Pradhan, would definitely be a win for civil liberties and the Bill of Rights. But even if, however, the lawsuits are struck down, this case will help continue to highlight and expose one of the most pervasive institutions of government abuse that exists in America.
This case alone is just one of many that the Freedom to Travel USA, Redfern, and Pradhan have helped bring to the public’s attention. They have put pressure on the TSA for not disclosing enough information about the capability of its scanners and attacking them for their veil of secrecy and dismissive nature towards worries over the health effects.
What makes this specific TSA lawsuit that much more interesting is that fact that Freedom to Travel USA includes ”very, very conservative people and Occupy arrestees” as supporters. Usually the bipartisan consensus consists of the authoritarian right and left colluding to expand power and restrict liberty. But much like the grassroots swell that arose from Senator Rand Paul’s anti-drone filibuster, this may unite the populist left and right in another worthy cause.”
Illustration by Ben Garrison
A sharp-eyed reader called this dose of insanity to our attention and we thought our readers would like to know how seriously the government takes those ” draconian cuts” to it’s budget .
While you may stand in line for an extra hour to board your plane you can rest assured in the knowledge that the TSA thug holding you up is comfortable in his/her new uniform , socks and belts included …
If you find yourself losing patience as your legs go numb from standing in line be sure to save a measure of pity for that poor public
tyrant ”servant” that has to pay for his own shoes and dry cleaning …. Oh the horror …
” The Transportation Security Administration agreed on a deal last month worth as much as $50 million to buy new uniforms for rank-and-file agents, despite concerns that imminent budget cuts would result in furloughs and 90-minute flight delays.
Agency officials signed the contract just days before the start of the $85 billion in federal budget cuts known as sequester.
On Feb. 22, the same day the contract was signed, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the sequester cuts could result in flight delays as long as 90 minutes at major airports in Chicago, New York and San Francisco and warned about furloughing air traffic controllers.
The deal does not include shoes or dry cleaning, according to CNSNews.com, which first reported the story. TSA did not respond to requests for comment.
Blackburn also is taking issue with a union-negotiated deal in which TSA security officers get a higher uniform allowance than combat Marine lieutenants, who receive a one-time allowance of $400.”
” Because there’s nothing more threatening than a disabled tot in a hot-pink wheelchair and Velcro sneakers, TSA agents singled out 3-year-old Lucy, who has spina bifida, for extra screening at Lambert-St. Louis Airport in Missouri. Irritated parents Nathan and Annie Forck kept the camera rolling, despite agents insisting filming was illegal.”
” The TSA was created to replace the patchwork of private security companies that handled airport security in the pre-9/11 era. Its budget quickly ballooned: Since 2002 the number of TSA agents has risen from 16,000 to more than 50,000. Still, to a traumatized public, any amount of overreaction in the name of preventing another terrorist attack seemed acceptable.
More than a decade later, it’s time to move on. For one thing, the attention paid to terrorism in the U.S. is out of proportion to the relative threat it presents. Since 2000 the chance that the death of a U.S. resident resulted from a terrorist attack was 1 in 3.5 million, according to John Mueller and Mark Stewart of Ohio State and the University of Newcastle, respectively. Out of the 150,000 murders in the U.S. between 9/11 and the end of 2010, Islamic extremism accounted for fewer than three dozen. In fact, extremist Islamic terrorism resulted in just 200 to 400 annual deaths worldwide, outside the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq—the same number, notes Mueller, that occur in bathtubs in the U.S. each year.
Yet the TSA still commands a budget of nearly $8 billion—leaving the agency with too many officers and not enough to do. The TSA’s “Top Good Catches of 2011,” reported on its blog, did include 1,200 firearms and—their top find—a single batch of C4 explosives (though that payload was discovered only on the return flight). A longer list of the TSA’s confiscations would include a G.I. Joe action doll’s 4-inch plastic rifle (“it’s a replica”) and a light saber toy. For all the face cream, breast milk, and live fish that vigilant screeners collected in airport security lines last year, the TSA didn’t spot a single terrorist trying to board an airline in the U.S. “
Illustration By Glenn McCoy