Federal air marshals have begun following ordinary US citizens not suspected of a crime or on any terrorist watch list and collecting extensive information about their movements and behavior under a new domestic surveillance program that is drawing criticism from within the agency.
The previously undisclosed program, called “Quiet Skies,” specifically targets travelers who “are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base,” according to a Transportation Security Administration bulletin in March.
The internal bulletin describes the program’s goal as thwarting threats to commercial aircraft “posed by unknown or partially known terrorists,” and gives the agency broad discretion over which air travelers to focus on and how closely they are tracked.
It is a time-consuming and costly assignment, they say, which saps their ability to do more vital law enforcement work.
TSA officials, in a written statement to the Globe, broadly defended the agency’s efforts to deter potential acts of terror. But the agency declined to discuss whether Quiet Skies has intercepted any threats, or even to confirm that the program exists.
I’m guessing ‘no’ and ‘yes.’
Between this, and the TSA activities — x-rays and groping … er … pat-downs — I’ll pass on flying when I can. I have a choice with my upcoming trip and I choose the ground, along with a relative bit of freedom.
From those who don’t know what I’m talking about, go here. And, yes, one Peter Ingemi is on my list of persons to visit.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here. She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.
Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar for his new not-GoDaddy host!
Ever wonder how many .gov websites are geared toward children? Lemme tell ya, there are quite a few.
Ben’s Guide, brought to you by the Superintendent of Documents in the U.S. Government Printing Office, provides pretty comprehensive listings, by both subject and agency. If you click over and give a scroll, you’ll get an idea of the wide range.
Of course, the EPA has lots of educational material on how you too can sacrifice your quality of life while people like Al Gore burn more fossil fuel than a small town. Behold the silliness that is Energy Star Kids. You can save the planet by turning off your electronics, boys and girls!
“The Earth is getting warmer because people are adding heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, mainly by burning fossil fuels. . . . Warmer temperatures are causing other changes around the world, such as melting glaciers and stronger storms.” Emphasis mine.
Neither is this kids’ stuff new. The federal government has aimed its informational messaging towards children for a long time. The whole “let’s get our youth fit!” thing started when Eisenhower was president. Smokey Bear has been around since 1944, and thanks to him we all know that only we can prevent forest fires.
I, for one, can personally vouch for the fact that you have to try to make a frightened toddler walk through the metal detector on his own, if the agent is in the mood to watch your two-year-old try to climb up your legs while screaming himself sweaty and beet-red. At least until a supervisor comes over and shows you a little mercy.
But I haven’t yet revealed the worst part of all: TSA.gov’s section for kids does not yet feature any video games.
TSA needs to get with the program. Stat. I bet we can all pitch some great game ideas. Like Patdown Party or Baby Stroller-and-Gear Breakdown-Then-Reassemble-While-Putting-Shoes-On Race.
Or . . What’s In Grandma’s Underwear?
I better stop now. Add your own TSA video game suggestions in the comments!
It’s Monday, and we have so far moved the ball only $22 dollars toward a full paycheck.
While part of that is a new subscriber which moves us closer to our goals in a permanent way one new subscriber still doesn’t do the trick to permanently secure the mortgage and pay DaMagnificent Seven plus our new villager.
But lets focus on the positive with 13 tip jar hits of $25 we will get our first full paycheck of 2014.
Once we manage that then we’ll worry about catching up on the ground we’re behind.
That new subscriber means we’re now only 57 1/4 more subscribers @ at $20 a month the bills will be paid every week and the problem will be solved on a more permanent basis. It won’t cover CPAC but it will do all the base bills and that’s what counts
Back in the days when Lyndon Johnson was a congressional aide rather than a congressman or senator he participated in a group known as the Little Congress. This was an association of congressional aides formed to promote public speaking but in 1933 recognizing the potential for publicity and power that the organization had Johnson arranged without warning to bring in many additional voters of dubious eligibility and managed to win election as the speaker. He ruled over the little congress as speaker and then as boss until eventually a young man from Mississippi decided he was not going to go along with Boss Johnson.
In the 1935 elections for the little congress he managed to rally enough members to pass reforms (strenuously opposed by Johnson men) requiring people to sign ballots and to check them against the voter rolls. This of course eliminated the secret ballot, a sacrosanct right among voters but it turned out that once the ballots were properly checked against lists The Johnson candidate was defeated.
Lyndon being Lyndon instantly decided that the Little Congress was not worth his time he abandoned it and shortly thereafter the informal voting methods returned because the cause that prompted the draconian measures was gone. (this information is from The Years of Lyndon Johnson The Path to Power by Robert Caro)
Which brings us to the TSA.
A lot of people are objecting on the basis of decency and the 4th amendment. I disagree with the 4th argument since all passengers are subjected to the same methods thus not constituting an unreasonable search, but this debate is not the point.
The point is that the only reason why these methods are necessary is because The Flemish Menace a group of Islamic fanatics have declared war on the west and are attempting to kill us.
Our unwillingness to face and waste resources on people not remotely connected to terror would be as if the FBI decided to concentrate an equal percentage of resources examining the black community in Mississippi when investigating the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner in 1964.
The day we face that threat and acknowledge and act accordingly is the day that intrusive searches and pat downs will be unnecessary because we will be examining the actual people who have a motive to strike at us.
Of course the administration being the administration we are not only not doing it, but apparently considering the exact opposite.
Hey we elected this government, we did this to ourselves.
…but guys remember one we have a public limit in terms of what we can’t do that is where our enemies are going to concentrate.
Sitcom culture and AirplaneAirplane 2 (Warning link NSFW) not withstanding may have sex on the mind 24/7 but let me tell you the TSA guys at the airport are more jaded than every doctor. They don’t care what you’ve got with those body scanners, they are thinking “is this the guy with the bomb?”
Remember when the guy already wired to blow goes into that line (and that day will come) it will that person who is doing that mundane repetitive job who will be getting it. Don’t think for one moment they don’t know it.
Yes I’m sure that we can do it better but eyes on the prize. The goal is no exploding planes. If we are meeting this goal I’m good.
But the reason why we are having this debate and searching Nuns and old ladies is because we are too politically correct to admit that it is Radical Islam that produces the need for all of this nonsense.
Until we are willing to face that fact straight up we will be squabbling about breasts and groping.
I remember going to the Sarah Palin Rally in NH during the presidential campaign with my son. One of the things that struck me was the secret service.
They stood there calm and quiet watching everything and reacting. Very little if anything missed them and I was very impressed.
When I was done I asked if I could shake their hand (after all my tax money pays them) I got a fist bump instead as handshakes were not looked upon as safe.
I am typing this at the airport getting ready to fly home. (note: I didn’t even boot up my laptop from the trip until this morning, my posts last night were from the wife’s computer) There are a lot of people traveling, every single one of us has been through the line, laptop bags open, shoes off pockets emptied, when you are in a hurry it can be a pain, People have rightly complained that a better profile method would make more sense, but all are forgetting something…
Each one of those people by their very presence is making a deal with you the traveler. They are promising that they will do this repetitive and mundane task without treating it lightly. They promise that while they are there, that person will NOT get by with that bomb, They realize that if God forbid they DO find someone who is ready to detonate, they are going to be taking that blast and perhaps dying that day.
The secret service does this for the president every day. These men and women do this for the great and the lowly in the exact same way.
How do you repay someone willing to “take a bullet” for you who never even met you?