Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Department of Homeland Stupidity

[The information below derives from an article titled, "Big Brother: Getting Bigger?", edited by Norie Quintos, in the July/August 2008 edition of the National Geographic Traveler.]

If the Department of Homeland Stupidity has its way, which appears to be the case, American citizens will no longer have the right to move freely about the country.

In January of last year, DHS established a rule which said that people traveling on flights to or from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean must carry a passport or some other form of government identification.

DHS has also established a plan to force American citizens to obtain a driver's license "with enhanced security features." This law is called the Real ID act, and essentially creates a national indentification card, which has been, frequently, a sign of a police state. Fortunately, 18 states so far have refused to follow the DHS law. Unfortunately, people living in those states will likely be hassled even more by DHS personnel when they try to enter airports and federal buildings.

"The latest assault on the freedom to travel is a TSA program known as Secure Flight. The agency says Secure Flight is merely a streamlining of the way passenger names are screened against government watch lists. But civil-liberties and privacy advocates caution that it would create a system in which travelers must obtain government permission to board an airplane."

Consider: This plan operates on a fundamentally un-American principle. It operates on the principle that you are guilty until proven innocent!

Not only so, but let's say that you were wrongly denied boarding an aircraft. You may submit a Redress Number to show that you were confused with someone else on the watch list. This, however, this would result in "an Orwellian piece of data called a Known Traveler Number" (which includes your personal identification information) which the TSA claims "will ensure greater consistency in the process and provide a better resolution for misidentified passengers."

And, if you believe that...

Note that "The government won't say how many names are on its watch lists or what criteria are used to place people on those lists. Estimates of the number of names on the lists have ranged from 250,000 to 880,000. If anything, privacy advocates say, Secure Flight has the potential to be even more arbitrary because it allows TSA to make decisions in secret."

Edward Hasbrouck, a civil-liberties consultant connected with the non-profit Identity Project, says, "We don't know what rules the TSA will follow or whether it is following them or not, because it won't tell us what they are."

It get scarier. TSA, back in 2004, tested a beta-plan for Secure Flight. At that time, "TSA collected and stored more than 100 million commercial data records, despite promising not to do so." In other words, we cannot trust the government to do what it says!

The Department of Homeland Security is a gargantuan, secret, and extremely dangerous bureaucracy, given to policies and practices more reminiscent of Nazi Germany than a free country. And, historically, when a bureaucracy grabs power, they are forever loath to give up even a smidgen of it!

The DHS should be abolished at the earliest possible moment. There must be other, better ways to enhance the security of our country (notice I did not use that nazi-sounding "homeland" word) than this Bush abomination.

P.S. Just in case you're wondering about my use of the word "Stupidity," instead of "Security," please note the chart above. We're the only country in the world that advertises our state of "preparedness" for a terrorist attack, thereby telling the terrorists when we are most vulnerable."


Anonymous said...

This is a worrisome thing for people with common names, particularly. How do you prove you are not the one on the list that is a possible terrorist? There should be better ways. Of course, the terrorists might be able to get or forge a passport. ( I read spy novels)
Now why would anyone be worried about this if they are not the one that is a real terrorist?
Bob Poris (I am not and never have been a terrorist)

Mr. B said...

OK, so you can't trust the government to do what it says. But, let me guess, you are in favor of a single payer health care model, right? If the government is untrustworthy and incompetent, why do want them in charge of health care?

Jacob said...

To Mr. B...

Three things: 1) You should not assume that because the DHS is incompetent and dangerous, that all government operations operate the same way. 2) You should not assume anything re: my views on health care. Furthermore, it does not logically follow that because the DHS has turned into the Gestapo, that a government health care system could not work. 3) The "government" reflects the people elected to represent us. Over the past 8 years we have elected a select bunch of criminals who have done their best to dismantle or make dysfunctional government programs which have been extremely effective over the years -- Social Security and Medicare.


Anonymous said...

OK, so you can't trust the government to do what it says. But, let me guess, you are in favor of a single payer health care model, right? If the government is untrustworthy and incompetent, why do want them in charge of health care?
August 19, 2008 6:06 AM
This is a first time for me. I never get nasty but allow people to express sheer stupidity. I thought the leaping to conclusions by this anonymous person to be symptomatic of the refusal of people to see facts, drop labels and respond with some intelligence.
We have seen over 4000 American kids killed, over 25,000 wounded; an economy in free fall due to relaxation of oversight by a one party group of representatives that failed in their duties; a president that promised to fire anyone guilty of outing a 25 year covert veteran, but is still stonewalling and has pardoned the only one really investigated; an administration that still manages to stall real efforts to stop the damage to our environment that can result in permanent damage to the entire world; a total failure in foreign affairs thru stupidity and refusal to read the signs properly; run by a bench of draft dodgers that refuses to accept the advice of the military; etc. The list is too long to bother with. Then we get this guy that decides a single payer system is the only thing in the world that he can find fault with. The fact is that both Social Security and the VA are more efficient and serve more people with lower costs than any of the private, money making, too expensive systems that fail to provide service to millions of Americans ion health care! I hope the next administration allows both systems to compete. Let those that want to pay their own way privately do so and allow the rest some governmental system paid for by taxes with true oversight to weed out the thieves.
Perhaps if real care is provided, we can rise to the level of care most of the industrialized world provides. We can improve on the foreign care by studying what is wrong with their systems.
There is no cure for stupidity! Pointing out what is wrong with government is one way to try to improve government. Another is to use real oversight to ferret out the corruption and put those that violate the people’s trust in jail doing hard time! We get what we deserve by electing incompetents to serve us based on their smiles and lies, lack of ethics and lack of ability to do the job they are elected to do. It is time we returned to a two party system where each side cooperates for the greater good.
Bob Poris

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