Although FederalNewsRadio reported "TSA's playbook keeps terrorists guessing," many people would tend to agree more with consumer advocate Christopher Elliot's statement that "Today's TSA is a joke. Unfortunately, the only ones laughing are the terrorists." Yet he or she who laughs last, laughs best, and the TSA may have the last laugh based on a Federal Register application to "conduct security-related assessments during site visits to approximately 750 owners and operators of highway transportation assets (such as long-haul trucks) as well as 140 public transportation agencies."
Right now, the TSA is only talking "assessments," but as Government Security News added, "Similarly, TSA wants to conduct on-site assessments with public agencies that run buses, rail transit, long-distance rail and less common types of service, such as cable cars, inclined planes, funiculars and automated guide way systems." The BASE (Highway Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement) program assessments are supposed to be "voluntary" thereby indicating a person has some choice of the matter. Yet as Wendy McElroy wrote on Dollar Vigilante, it's "voluntary in the same sense that compliance with TSA demands at airport screening are voluntary."
The application for funding from the TSA constitutes a preliminary step toward systematically expanding TSA's authority from airports to highways and almost every other means of public travel. The expansion would erase one of the last remaining differences between the US and a total police state; namely, the ability to travel internally without being under police surveillance. The total police state you experience at airports wants to spill into roads and bus stops, to subways and trains.
In the past, people have opted to drive as opposed to dealing with the TSA to travel. "Airport security is killing us," reported Bloomberg. "The inconvenience of air travel is pushing more people onto the roads." Cornell University researchers suggested "that people switching from air to road transportation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks led to an increase of 242 driving fatalities per month—which means that a lot more people died on the roads as an indirect result of 9/11 than died from being on the planes that terrible day."
Since the TSA was created, more people than ever have been choosing to drive instead of fly over the Thanksgiving holidays. In 2000, 6 million flew and 28 million drove; in 2012, 4.5 million flew and 31 million drove. But soon it may not matter if you opt to drive instead of fly since the agency went public last year with TSA's future plans to track all your daily travels, anywhere you go, from work, to stores, or even when you go out to play at social events:
Vernon R. Herron, senior policy analyst at the Center for Health and Homeland Security, told MSNBC that your official travel document "will not only have information as to who you are and where you have traveled, but it will also ... allow government officials to track your travel not only in the air, but your daily travels to work, grocery stores and social events." In the future the "government will detain passengers who have traveled to places that are suspicious in nature" once they enter an airport, Herron added. "All these measures seem extreme. However, after we declared a war on terror, we must be more proactive than reactive when it comes to airport security."
When a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee had a hearing about terminating the TSA, the TSA skipped the hearing. The agency's press release said the committee had no jurisdiction over the TSA and didn't mention that it had been called "a massive, inflexible, backward-looking bureaucracy of more than 65,000″ on the subcommittee website. The public has until Dec. 31 to submit comments about the TSA Federal Register assessment notice, but remember...First Amendment be damned, the out of control TSA has gone after bloggers to stifle criticism.
Such tactics did more to incite than quiet TSA critics. When writing about the privacy invasions of the TSA, LewRockwell stated, "The TSA is violating social rules of civility every day in every way on large numbers of people. The government is replacing social rules of civility with social rules of incivility. It wants people to accept and be grateful for its humiliating treatment of them." Another post there included:
TSA - whose vulgar practices were in place at airports long before 9/11 - is doing precisely what it was designed to do. Its purpose is not to protect airliners and passengers from terrorist attacks, but to condition people to accept the practice of having their lives subject to the most arbitrary assaults that the state wishes to employ. 'We can do it because we can do it, and there's nothing you can do about it' might very well become the motto of this agency.
No one wants terrorists in the United States, so that combined with hitting the FEAR button for funding of ridiculous Homeland Security expenditures has continued to move our country toward a police state. Policymic added, "It's time for America to decide whether they want secure tyranny, or insecure liberty. Liberty has its own price: eternal vigilance. Unfortunately, especially after the events of 9/11, America has turned over its responsibility for that vigilance to a government agency that humiliates them at every turn."
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- Digital privacy in the big data era: Microsoft's data protection keynote
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