Losing Freedom

The first thing you lose when you walk into an airport is freedom of speech, according to Walter Williams article "Airport tyranny". You do not even have to say any particular thing to find yourself arrested. Even if you say something totally innocent (in a country with free speech everything is innocent), if some TSA thug claims it distracted him or her.

Quoting James Bovard, Williams wrote: "According to the February 2002 Federal Register, people can be arrested if they act in a way that 'might distract or inhibit a screener from effectively performing his or her duties ? A screener encountering such a situation must turn away from his or her normal duties to deal with the disruptive individual, which may affect the screening of other individuals.' That means it is a federal offense, and a fine of up to $1,500, for any alleged 'nonphysical interference' ..."

The next thing you lose is your dignity and privacy. In my story, "An Uncivilized People," I revealed the TSA is installing security scanners "which can see through passengers' clothing and reveal details of their body ... in 10 US airports." TSA foresees 30 of the machines installed across the country by the end of 2008.

The third thing you lose is the security of your property and private information. The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) which apparently has, "... the authority to search electronic devices without suspicion in the same way that it would inspect a briefcase," is now confiscating, "... computers, portable storage drives, and BlackBerries .... Congressional investigators and plaintiffs involved in lawsuits believe that digital copies, 'so-called "mirror images" of drives' are sometimes made of materials after they are seized by customs."

In addition to the problems this causes business travelers who are immediately deprived of, "the very data and revenue a business trip was intended to create," or find themselves "effectively locked out of [their] electronic office indefinitely;" duplicated information can contain, "corporate secrets, legal records, financial data, medical files, and personal E-mails and photographs as well as stored passwords for accounts from Netflix to Bank of America," for example.

Still think you are free? How about if you could be thrown in jail for just the way you look?

Perhaps the most disturbing thing in Walter Williams article was this:

"The TSA aims to have 500 'behavior detection officers' (BDOs) in airports by the end of this year. The job of the BDOs will be ... [to examine] passengers for "body language and facial cues ... for signs of bad intentions." Quoting McClatchy Newspapers, Williams wrote, "New airport agents check for danger in fliers' facial expressions," (August 2007) that Jay Cohen, undersecretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology, "wants to automate passenger screening by using videocams and computers to measure and analyze heart rate, respiration, body temperature and verbal responses as well as facial micro-expressions."

And what "micro-expression" are they looking for? According to Jay Cohen, undersecretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology, "fear and disgust are the key ones." Who could fly today without being filled with both these emotions?