TSA outrage misplaced

The big buzz this weekend is the outrage about the new pat downs and scanners used by the TSA at our airports. The right wing have their answer which is racist on its face and other complaints are misplaced.

The right wing don’t believe all people should be checked – they argue only nasty brown men need to be stopped. They also carry water for the airlines who hate strong security because it’s bad for business.

Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney U.S. Air Force (Retired) thinks that we should strip search all 18-28 year old Muslim males at the airport.
What would happen is that anyone who’s the slightest bit swarthy, black or middle eastern looking — be they Italians, Spanish, Jews, non-Muslim Arabs, North Africans, or blacks — will be summarily detained and strip searched at airports. And for how long does this continue? When does it end? Who will be wrongfully detained? But rewind a second here. The Underpants Bomber was an average-looking black man. McInerney is basically suggesting that all blacks in that age range be strip searched. All of them. 

McInerney Wants to Strip Search Muslims (Blacks)

But as travelers grow more frustrated with heightened airport security, it appears Republicans are opening a new front on the privatization crusade.

A Republican lawmaker, who is faulting big government spending, is suggesting that airports dump the Transportation Security Administration altogether, and opt instead to privatize security.

And some airports, fed up with poor service in a climate where travelers are outraged about the prospect of full-body scanners, are listening.

The consideration comes after Florida Republican Rep. John Mica — a longtime critic of the TSA — wrote letters to the country’s 100 busiest airports earlier this month asking them to switch to private security.

Mica is poised to become chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, so he’ll be in a position to advance this issue.


This weekend we had stories about a cancer survivor having to take out and show a prosthetic breast and a small child having to take off his shirt while a TSA agent patted him down.

If the pat downs and scans were done outside of airports – such as to access buildings or neighborhoods then I would agree they were unreasonable searches but in an airport getting ready to board a plane – all of us are potential terrorists so the searches are not unreasonable.

The body scans are not equal to porn unless you get freaky with pictures of white blobs.

Racial profiling just doesn’t work. What we need to do is profile based on behavior. Israelis talk to everyone entering their airport and detain those who meet certain requirements for further scrutiny.

The TSA pat downs and scans may not catch everyone but flying is not a civil right.

To the issue of more security being bad for business – terrorism is also bad for business and if your airline or airport is a known terrorist target then people will avoid you if your security is lacking like it was back on September 10, 2001 when minimum wage low skill workers were responsible for airport security.

President Clinton hands Fox News its ass

The buzz in the political pundit arena today is the interview former President Bill Clinton had with Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

It was suppose to be about Clinton’s work on his Global Initiative project which includes the support from Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch. Wallace instead tried to ambush Clinton about the current myth spinning in conservative pundit land – that Clinton didn’t do enough to kill Osma Bin Laden during his presidency. Republican pundits – with help from the conservative media like Fox News – have used the myth in an effort to deflect criticism of President Bush and his failure to capture or kill Bin Laden.

Instead Wallace had the tables turned on him and Fox News. It was lovely to watch. The website Media Matters has the full run down of the interview including video but here are some highlights:

CLINTON: Let’s look at what Richard Clarke said. Do you think Richard Clarke has a vigorous attitude about bin Laden?

WALLACE: Yes, I do.

CLINTON: You do, don’t you?

WALLACE: I think he has a variety of opinions and loyalties —

CLINTON: That’s right.

WALLACE: — but yes, he has a vigorous opinion.

CLINTON: He has a variety of opinions and loyalties now, but let’s look at the facts. He worked for Ronald Reagan. He was loyal to him. He worked for George H. W. Bush. He was loyal to him. He worked for me and he was loyal to me. He worked for President Bush; he was loyal to him. They downgraded him and the terrorist operation. Now, look what he said. Read his book and read his factual assertions — not opinions — assertions. He said we took “vigorous action” after the African embassies. We probably nearly got bin Laden.

WALLACE: Well, wait —

CLINTON: I authorized — now, wait a minute —

WALLACE: You launched a few — you threw a few cruise missiles.

CLINTON: No, no. I authorized — I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him. The CIA was run by George Tenet that President Bush gave the Medal of Freedom to. He said he did a good job, setting up all these counterterrorism things. The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came there.

Now if you want to criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: after the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full scale attack/search for bin Laden. But, we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got after 9-11. The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So, that meant I would have had to send a few hundred Special Forces in, in helicopters and refuel at night. Even the 9-11 Commission didn’t do that. Now, the 9-11 Commission was a political document, too. All I’m asking is: If anybody wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough, sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him.


CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried. So, I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.

So, you did Fox’s bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit-job on me, but what I want to know —

WALLACE: Now, wait a minute, sir, I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question. But I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you’ve asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, “Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole?” I want to know how many people you asked, “Why did you fire Dick Clarke?” I want to know how many people you asked about this.

WALLACE: We asked — we asked. Have you ever watched Fox News Sunday, sir?

CLINTON: I don’t believe you asked them that.

WALLACE: We ask plenty of questions of —

CLINTON: You didn’t ask that, did you? Tell the truth, Chris.

WALLACE: About the USS Cole?

CLINTON: Tell the truth, Chris

WALLACE: With Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

CLINTON: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is supporting my work on climate change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about — you said you’d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion-plus in three days from 215 different commitments. And you don’t care. But,

WALLACE: — and all I can say is, I’m asking you in good faith because it’s on people’s minds, sir. And I wasn’t —

CLINTON: Well, there’s a reason it’s on people’s minds. That’s the point I’m trying to make. There’s a reason it’s on people’s minds because they’ve done a serious disinformation campaign to create that impression. This country only has one person who’s worked against terror, from the terrorist incidents under Reagan to the terrorist incidents on 9-11. Only one: Richard Clarke.

And all I can say — anybody is — you want to know what we did wrong or right, or anybody else did? Read his book. The people on my political right, who say I didn’t do enough, spent the whole time I was president saying, “Why is he so obsessed with bin Laden? That was ‘Wag the Dog’ when he tried to kill him.” My Republican Secretary of Defense — and I think I’m the only president since World War II to have a Secretary of Defense from the opposite party — Richard Clarke, and all the intelligence people said that I ordered a vigorous attempt to get bin Laden and came closer apparently than anybody has since.

Wallace falsehood: said in Clinton interview that he asked Bush admin officials “plenty of questions” about failure to catch bin Laden

Clinton is right. The same right winger’s taking him to task for not doing enough to get Bin Laden back in 1998 and 1999 were the same ones who claimed he had launched the cruise missile attacks back then to distract from his sex scandal. President Bush did nothing about Bin Laden for the first 8 months of his administration even after the FBI and CIA reported in early 2001 that the Cole bombing was the work of Bin Laden and his group.

As Media Matters reports, Wallace asked about the lack of focus on Bin Laden to someone from the Bush administration only once – back in 2004 to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. No one in the Bush White House was asked about it before or after that.

Are we done with President Bush, yet?

How many illegal things must President Bush do before he is removed from office. I don’t know if this country can wait until January 20, 2009 when a new administration is sworn in.

The GOP came within a Senate vote of removing President Clinton because he lied about a blow job and President Bush gets free ride after free ride for violating the Constitution.

The latest is the disclosure in USA Today that all the major phone companies but one gave the NSA phone records the NSA requested.

Bush defenders said that the collection of phone records was necessary.

“This is nuts,” Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said of the furor over the latest disclosure. “We are in a war, and we’ve got to collect intelligence on the enemy, and you can’t tell the enemy in advance how you are going to do it. And discussing all of this stuff in public leads to that.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said his colleagues’ reaction was hard to understand. “Let’s talk about this in a rational way. We are in a war with terrorism. There are people out there who want to kill us, and I don’t think this action is nearly as troublesome as is being made out here.”

“Because they are not tapping our phones and getting our conversations. They are merely maintaining these numbers from which they have some system, apparently, to utilize those to match up with international phone calls connected to al Qaeda,” Sessions said.

But Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa slammed the database program.

“Why are the telephone companies not protecting their customers?” Grassley said. “I think they have a social responsibility to people who do business with them to protect our privacy as long there isn’t some suspicion that we’re a terrorist or a criminal or something.”

U.S. phone-call database ignites privacy uproar

And this:

While Capitol Hill debated the issue Friday, many lawyers voiced surprise that three major phone companies had agreed to make available to the National Security Agency the phone records of tens of millions of Americans.

That’s because Congress made it illegal 20 years ago for telephone companies and computer service providers to turn over to the government records showing who their customers had dialed or e-mailed.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 was passed when cell phones and the Internet were emerging as new forms of communication. Section 2702 of the law says these providers of “electronic communications . . . shall not knowingly divulge a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber or customer . . . to any government entity.”

Companies that violate the law are subjected to being sued and paying damages of at least $1,000 per violation per customer.

“It is simply illegal for a telephone company to turn over caller records without some form of legal process, such as a court order or a subpoena,” said James X. Dempsey, a lawyer for the Center for Democracy and Technology in San Francisco.

Transfer of phone logs may have been illegal

First of all we are not “at war”. The Bush nazis may think it is a war and they say it is to justify their illegal violations of the 4th amendment. Since it is not a declared war the Bill of Rights still apply and the government has to have a warrant or subpoena to get records of US citizens and to get a warrant the government must provide specific probable cause and the gathering has to be specific – they can’t troll for information.

I don’t know what is worse, a President subverting our rights or citizens who allow it. An ABC/Washington Post poll the day after the USA Today story broke showed that more than 60% of respondents said the gathering of the records by the NSA was ok with them.

According to the poll, 65 percent of those interviewed said it was more important to investigate potential terrorist threats “even if it intrudes on privacy.” Three in 10–31 percent–said it was more important for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.

Poll: Most Americans Support NSA’s Efforts

This lack of concern reminds me of a famous quote:

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. – Ben Franklin

King George spies on loyal subjects just in case….

That loud thud you heard Saturday was the other shoe falling in Washington when President Bush went on live television and admitted he had the National Security Agency spy on US citizens. He hid behind the cloak of the 9/11 attacks to justify his actions in issuing the order.

“The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time. And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad.”

The Bush administration also said that not only did Congress allow the President to issue such an order in the blank check resolution they gave him in October 2001, but that Congressional leaders, GOP and Democrats, had been briefed on the spying on several occasions.

The NY Times wrote this on Sunday:

“The disclosure of the security agency’s warrantless eavesdropping on calls between the United States and Afghanistan sheds light on the origins of the agency’s larger surveillance activities, which officials say have included monitoring the communications of as many as 500 Americans and other people inside the United States without search warrants at any one time. Several current and former officials have said that they believe the security agency operation began virtually on the fly in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Eavesdropping Effort Began Soon After Sept. 11 Attacks

As any fisherman will tell you, when one tosses out a net sometimes you get other things beside fish. That is the Bush operation in a nutshell. It assumes we are guilty till proved innocent and their fishing operations have had limited success. Fewer than a couple dozen people arrested in the US for suspected terrorism activities since 2001 have been terrorists.

In a Washington Post article in June 2005 found:

Among all the people charged as a result of terrorism probes in the three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The Post found no demonstrated connection to terrorism or terrorist groups for 180 of them.

Just one in nine individuals on the list had an alleged connection to the al Qaeda terrorist network and only 14 people convicted of terrorism-related crimes — including Faris and convicted Sept. 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui — have clear links to the group. Many more cases involve Colombian drug cartels, supporters of the Palestinian cause, Rwandan war criminals or others with no apparent ties to al Qaeda or its leader, Osama bin Laden.

But a large number of people appear to have been swept into U.S. counterterrorism investigations by chance — through anonymous tips, suspicious circumstances or bad luck — and have remained classified as terrorism defendants years after being cleared of connections to extremist groups.

For example, the prosecution of 20 men, most of them Iraqis, in a Pennsylvania truck-licensing scam accounts for about 10 percent of individuals convicted — even though the entire group was publicly absolved of ties to terrorism in 2001.

U.S. Campaign Produces Few Convictions on Terrorism Charges

Bush’s actions may also conflict with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (1978) that requires court orders before spying on anyone can be started. That act was made law after the widespread surveillance done on protest groups and others in the 1970’s by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies and the abuse those agencies were found to have done.

A basic civil right is that search and seizure requires a warrant from a court. It is a check against an abuse of Federal power against people. President Bush seems to be abusing his authority.

Now I fully expect to see, later Sunday morning, the usual administration talking heads trying to spin Bush’s actions and try to turn it around and make it look like those for civil rights are in league with terrorists. Watch the morning shows and you will see it and hear it.

Then there is this bit from his “speech”:

“The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland. During each assessment, previous activities under the authorization are reviewed. The review includes approval by our nation’s top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President. I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups.”

President’s Radio Address (12/17/2005)

He is asking us to trust him and his appointed officials to operate in a correct manner. This is the same guy that just days ago admitted he tried to sell the war in Iraq based on bogus intelligent info, that we aren’t holding suspects in secret prisons in other countries where torture is not a big deal, and Iraq is getting better everyday. I find it hard to see President Bush and “trust” in the same room not alone in the same sentence.

According to the NY Times:

“In the early years of the operation, there were few, if any, controls placed on the activity by anyone outside the security agency, officials say. It was not until 2004, when several officials raised concerns about its legality, that the Justice Department conducted its first audit of the operation. Security agency officials had been given the power to select the people they would single out for eavesdropping inside the United States without getting approval for each case from the White House or the Justice Department, the officials said.”

And this is what happens, and we told you so, when Congress signed away their oversight on the “war” on terrorism in October 2001.

Congressional leaders, Democrat and Republican, have some serious explaining to do as to why they let the spying continue as long as did and it seems it still is. Their shock and indignation seem very hollow indeed.

With a hatchet man like Dick Cheney, who needs the truth

I don’t often get angry while watching a news broadcast, but on Friday 9/24/04 I happened to catch our local newscast giving an update on the Presidential campaign, I got very angry. Angry enough to walkout of the break room just so I wouldn’t have to watch the story.

It started with a clip of John Kerry giving his 7 point plan for the war on terrorism and critiquing Bush and company for going after Saddam instead of finishing the job against Bin Laden.

“George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority,” Kerry told a group of students and faculty at Temple University. “The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy, al-Qaida, which killed more than 3,000 people on 9/11 and which still plots our destruction today. And there’s just no question about it: The president’s misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq will make the war on terror harder to win.”

“Iraq is now what it was not before the war: a haven for terrorists,” Kerry said. “I will grant no one, no country, no sweetheart relationship a free pass,” he said. “As president, I will do what President Bush has not done; I will hold the Saudis accountable.”


So then Vice President Cheney responds:

Vice President Dick Cheney complained Friday in Warrenton that the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry, suggested that Iraq wasn’t a home for terrorists before Saddam Hussein was deposed.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Saddam himself was a terrorist,” Cheney told about 1,500 people at a Republican rally at the Warren County Fairgrounds.

Cheney said Saddam had provided a safe haven for terrorists over the years, made $25,000 payments to families of Palestinian suicide bombers and had a relationship with al-Qaida.


The Bush-Cheney team continue to LIE about the reasons for invading Iraq. That is why I got mad. The news allowed Cheney to spit out his untruths without ANY questioning from the press or anyone.

Taking a closer look at Iraq and terrorism finds that Saddam was considered dangerous, no one disputes that, but not an immediate threat to the US. Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi of Libya was more of an immediate threat to the US than Saddam. Bin Laden had ordered the killing several thousand innocent civilians in the 9/11 terrorist act yet the President shifted the focus from Bin Laden to Saddam without a resolution.

The other lie Cheney is fond of stating is that Saddam and al-Qaida had a relationship. He is then assuming you and I will connect the dots and think Saddam had something to do with 9/11. There was no relationship. Saddam was too busy keeping his grip on Iraq to help another terrorist group. He wasn’t looking for an excuse to be attacked.

Cheney is also the one who inferred that if Kerry was elected, the US would be attacked by terrorists.

Terrorism is a threat. Unfortunately, the Republicans are too busy keeping Cat Stevens out of the country and forcing book stores to tell the government what books I buy, among other civil rights abuses, to fight terrorism as it needs to be fought. Terrorism and the groups who commit terror acts are in the shadows. They have no country or army to fight. Fighting terror requires a concerted effort of intelligence agencies across the world and old fashion police work. Just ask the Italians how they broke the back of the Red Brigades, or how the British turned down the IRA troubles, or how the Germans defeated the Baader-Meinhof gang or how Japan dealt with the Japanese Red Army group.

Cheney and Bush want you to think that terrorists care who is in the Whitehouse.