From the Publisher's Desk
"The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide."
- Bruce Schneier
Bye Bye Privacy!
As 2009 is upon us and 2008 is history, we reflect on the past and future of privacy. As we have consistently maintained, a good look at the past is an excellent barometer for the future!
To say the recent intrusions into our privacy and civil liberties have been of Titanic proportions would be an understatement. These losses are likely permanent and never to be replaced, at least in our lifetime.
The fact of the matter is that very few persons care about their loss of privacy and civil liberties. Privacy is a bit like your health, you don't think much about it until it's gone.
When a recent study shows that most persons would torture another person if ordered to, for the sake of fighting terrorism, it's apparent that the loss of one's privacy and their civil liberties are of little concern to the vast majority.
According to a study by researchers at Santa Clara University in California most would torture another person if ordered to.
The experiment partially explains why prisoners have been abused at the hands of American troops at the U.S. run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
70 per cent of volunteers after being encouraged by authority to administer electric shocks did so even when an actor working in the study expressed being in pain. Source - http://timeinmoments.wordpress.com/2008/12/22/study-shows-most-would-torture-another-person-if-ordered-to/
During the past decade or so, these horrific intrusions into our privacy plus the loss of our civil liberties have increased exponentially, especially since George W Bush, Tony Blair et al came to power and the 9/11/2001 disasters. However the theft of privacy began long before 9/11.
During the Clinton years, and before, in addition to the numerous Terrocratic privacy encroaching programs created, we saw the introduction of clipper chips, CAPPS I (Gore's pet project,) the proliferation of CCTV's, Hillary's "Health Identifier Scheme," serious FBI and other governmental agencies surveillance into not only of people of "interest" to J. Edgar Hoover et al, but the spying on everyday American's and visitors from abroad.
Since 9/11 amongst the many intrusive programs and agencies created, we've seen the excogitation of the Total Information Awareness System, the Department of US Homeland Security, Amerika's version of the Gestapo, CAPPS II, DRAPA, FEMA, Real ID and numerous other intrusive programs and agencies ad nauseam.
The TSA or Transportation Security Administration is a part of the US Dept. of Homeland Security. TSA's "Secure Flight Program" sees to it that passengers on their "no fly" list are denied boarding passes as the people on these lists have been tagged as a danger to the flying public, albeit not dangerous enough for arrest or trial. As a consequence, thousands of US citizens are not permitted to fly within or to leave the united States [correct spelling] without special handling, i.e. extra searches and certain delays and much inconvenience, each and every time they wish to travel by an air carrier. This no fly list is rapidity approaching 1 million persons. Amongst the numerous innocent persons, who in nearly all cases are unable to get their names of this list, are David Nelson [think Ozzie & Harriett 1950's TV series] and Senator Edward Kennedy. Try getting your name off this list is nearly impossible unless you're a US Senator!
The first surprise, but not really, with the "Secure Flight program" was the sheer size of it. In paper form it is more than 540 *pages* long. Note that I write five hundred and forty  pages long and not 540 words!
In contrast the Lord's Prayer is just 56 words. Lincoln's Gettysburg address is 268 words and the US Declaration of Independence just 1322 words. The U.S. Government's regulation on the sale of cabbages... 26,911.
Clearly government agencies and programs have gone way overboard and loss any remaining semblance of common sense. Ditto for big business' and the government's theft of your rights and privacy! Common sense has been lost in a barrage of regulations and compliance requirements where, like the famous Energizer Battery commercials, they just keep on going and going, growing and growing. Most of these programs are under penalty if you fail to comply with them, all for the sake of saving you from the bad guys.
For example before 9/11 the government's list of suspected terrorists banned from air travel totaled just 16 names; today there are 44,000. And that doesn't include people the government thinks should be pulled aside for additional security screening. There are another 875,000 people on that list and growing.
Jack Cloonan a twenty-five-year veteran of the FBI who was a special agent for the Bureau's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 2002, says in the headlong rush to get a "NO FLY List" they forgot quality control. "And, we forgot what this was about. This is to prevent an Islamic terrorist who is associated with al Qaeda from getting on a plane. It lacks efficiency and, it makes us, look ineffective and ill equipped," he says.
It also has created enormous frustration and aggravation for tens of thousands of innocent travelers who have the misfortune of sharing a name with someone on the list and some of the names are among the most common in America. Like Gary Smith, John Williams or Robert Johnson.
The list doesn't appear to be a very dangerous group, so says CBS' 60 Minutes. There is a politician, a soccer coach, businessmen, even a member of the military. Yet they say they are pulled aside and interrogated, sometimes for hours until someone at the Transportation Security Administration decides they are not the Robert Johnson on the No Fly List. And they say it happens nearly every time they go to the airport.
"Oh at least at least 15 to 20 times. At least," one of the Robert Johnsons told CBS news.
"Probably for close to 100 segments, every time I would go to get onto an airplane, I would have to go through the process," another says. "I had my military ID and you know, I go on military bases all the time," Robert Johnson says. "So I can get on any base in the country, but I can't fly on a plane, because I am on the No Fly List."
The Robert Johnson meant to be on the No Fly List would seem to be the known alias of a 62-year-old black man who was convicted of plotting to bomb a Hindu temple and a movie theatre in Toronto. After serving 12 years, he was deported to Trinidad. But the airlines ticket agents don't have any of that information on their computer screens. They just have the name, not even a date of birth.
"There's gotta be some common sense in there. Somebody behind that desk has to say, 'This isn't the guy they're looking for.' Come on," one remarks.
And there is not much they can do about it. Right now their only recourse is to apply to get on another list of people who shouldn't be on the list. Donna Bucella of the Terrorist Screening Center says the inconvenience is regrettable, but it's a price society and anyone named Robert Johnson has to pay for security.
"Well, Robert Johnson will never get off the list," Bucella states.
And she acknowledges that the inconvenience won't go away. "Well, they're gonna be inconvenienced every time they try to go to the kiosk or try to do a curbside check-in because they do have the name of a person who's a known or suspected terrorist," she says.
But not all suspected terrorists are on the government's No Fly List. Joe Trento, while researching his book "Unsafe at Any Altitude" about airline security found what he thought was an obvious omission.
"Now Dawud Sallahuddin, real name David Belfield, lives in Tehran. He carried out the first assassination in Washington on behalf of Ayatollah Khomeini. Dressed up as a mailman and shot somebody. He's allowed to fly," Trento says.
The above is Chapter I, reprinted from the special report BYE BYE PRIVACY, which can be downloaded FREE in PDF format at Bye Bye Privacy!
See you next issue
"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion."
- Edmund Burke, 1784
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