Sunday, January 17, 2010

Privacy Violations: TSA's New Full-Body Screening Procedures Too "Transparent"?

Privacy and individual rights advocates claim that the Transportation Security Administration has been less than candid about the possible abuse of intrusive airport full-body scanners:
Pushback against the deployment at airports of digital image scanners that show people's naked images through their clothes is gaining steam, bolstered by the Electronic Privacy Information Center's publication of government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security papers suggest the Transportation Security Administration overstated the privacy protections travelers subjected to the scanners would have.
Contrary to TSA's claims, the controversial backscatter scanners are able to store and send images, according to the documents EPIC obtained. There are 10 variable privacy settings on the device, which presumably can be dialed up or down at the point of operation with the required access code.

The Land of Opportunity, Not Amnesty

As a public service, here’s a message for those on both sides of the political aisle who get a tingle up their legs when they think about granting amnesty to illegal aliens: Secure the border first.

Americans are perhaps the most welcoming, generous people on earth, but before comprehensive immigration "reform" can be considered, the country needs comprehensive border security reform.

And although most of the current chaos is going on at the southern border, the northern border needs to be locked down as well.

It's hard to believe that in this polarized political climate, the Democrats (and some Republicans) are serious about pushing for amnesty in 2010, unless they feel that ACORN, SEIU, and corrupt Secretaries of State will give them a firewall of fraudulent votes in the November congressional elections no matter how far their overreach.

But the bottom line is that with massive unemployment, and terrorists trying to penetrate our (porous) borders by any means necessary, this is perhaps the worst of all possible times to even consider this kind of legislation.

One thing that the political and media class don't seem to understand is that Americans generally favor legal immigration. As we do strong border enforcement.

In fact, it is the legal immigrant with the entrepreneurial drive that is achieving success everywhere you look, unlike the many of us who grew up here and who can barely get up from the coach in the family room during the commercials. The American economy and culture have been greatly enriched by law-abiding immigrants who come here to work and add value to our society.

Simply put, it is illegal immigration that everyday Americans oppose. It is also absurd to assume that political parties have to favor amnesty as a way to pander to presumed monolithic voters among certain groups. In general, the American people across the board oppose amnesty for lawbreakers in the same way that most Americans oppose Socialized medicine. Both run counter to the American way. The opposition to amnesty stems from the fact in part that it violates our sense of fair play and respect for the rule of law--how can we allow those who broke the law to jump ahead in line of those who followed the required procedures? Moreover, Americans don't want to send social service agencies and the criminal justice system farther into bankruptcy then they already are.

With that in mind, we're not too far removed from the Christmas season. During the holidays, A Christmas Story, the hilarious and beloved send-up of the works of radio raconteur Jean Shepherd, goes into heavy television rotation. Sadly, Bob Clark, the director, and his son, were killed by an illegal alien drunk driver in April 2007. The tragic circumstances that befell Clark and his son have unfortunately been replicated throughout the country.

American has plenty of American citizens who drive drunk or commit violent crimes, as your local police blotter or the TV show Cops (or its newest guilty-pleasure analog, Campus PD) reveals. Why would we need to import more non-citizen felons --regardless of their country of origin--into our society?

And it's not just a matter of crime prevention, but of national security. For example, it's been widely reported that Hezbollah has established a foothold in South America. And a few years ago, the San Antonio Express-News published a four-part series about the increasing number of persons from Middle Eastern countries coming across the Mexican border "who have come to America with darker pursuits than escaping war or starting a new life."

An October 2009 article in the London Telegraph suggests the UK Labor Party opened the floodgates to immigration (both legal and illegal) for cynical political reasons that they previously kept under wraps: "The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and 'rub the Right's nose in diversity', according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett." Hasn't London, in recent years, become a hotbed of extremist activity in part owing to lax immigration policies?

Getting back to the northern border, the narrator in the 1941 film 49th Parallel intones that the U.S.-Canadian border is the only [then] undefended frontier in the world. By coincidence, we just happened to watch the DVD, which is about six shipwrecked German sailors on the lam in Canada after the RCAF sinks their U-boat (and all their other fellow enemy combatants with it) in Hudson's Bay.

The movie, which despite its continuity and production flaws and other issues, is considered a classic, was originally commissioned by the British government as an anti-isolationist propaganda piece to sway American public opinion in favor of joining the Allies against the Nazis. If you get a chance to see it, you'll realize that the film is much more nuanced than that.

Anyway, Spoiler warning: As the film concludes, the last remaining fugitive, the fanatical Nazi Lt. Hirth (in a compelling performance by British actor Eric Portman) hops aboard a freight train bound for the states. When the train crosses into U.S. territory in the Niagara Falls area, the fugitive officer demands to be taken to the German embassy under the law (the U.S. was neutral at the time). The by-the-book customs officers at first agree to comply. However, a Canadian solider played by Raymond Massey who had been overpowered by Hirth tries to convince the customs officers to send the train back. Here's his pitch: Since each item of freight has to be listed on the manifest, and since neither the Nazi officer or Massey's character appear on the manifest, the train car must be returned to sender--where the fugitive Nazi will obviously be immediately arrested as a war criminal. To this, the Nazi officer, who has murdered numerous innocent Canadian citizens during the manhunt, says "I protest. You can't do this. It is illegal." The Massey character prevails, however, and customs returns the train car to Canada. [Disclaimer: As the film fades out, the Massey character begins to administer some "rough justice" to the officer, which admittedly would be considered detainee abuse by today's standards, and we of course do not condone this type of behavior.] Today, the enemy officer would been immediately Mirandized so he could clam up assuming he wasn't given immediate refugee status, assigned a court-appointed ACLU lawyer for a civil trial, and sent for immediate anger management counseling.

Again according to the London Telegraph, the Christmas day Northwest Airlines bomber was singing like a canary until his civilian lawyer advised him to remain silent.