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01/27/2004 Archived Entry: "Closing the barricades on travel"

DO YOU HAVE DAYS WHERE YOU FEEL LIKE SUCH AN OUTSIDER you're not sure you even belong on this planet? I'm having one of those. Sometimes it's merely psychological; to value freedom in a world that scorns it is alienating, all by itself. But sometimes I really wonder how some of us will manage to continue to live on this planet.

This morning's first mail brought news that the TSA is rushing implementation of CAPPS II, with its noxious profiling of every airline passenger and color-coding of those who are "fit" or "unfit" to fly. (And note that the airlines, some of which have gotten in such hot water with the public for turning over passenger information, will now be ordered to turn that info over to the fedgov. No mention of any warrants or subpoenas. Such silly, old-fashioned things, those court orders.)

The friend who sent the article -- a fellow activist -- fears what will happen to her when she must board an airplane for an overseas flight a couple of months from now. Will she be a "red" -- and therefore forbidden to leave the United States? Or will she merely be a "yellow" -- singled out for extra humiliation and harassment? There's NO chance this friend of liberty will be considered "green-for-go" by the current regime.

Then LewRockwell.com linked to this excellent, well-researched TSA article by Jim Bovard (adapted from his newest book, Terrorism and Tyranny), "Dominate. Intimidate. Control: The sorry record of the Transportation Security Administration." I could scarcely bring myself to click on another article about stupid, thuggish insecurity screeners. But because it was Jim, I did. And was reminded of some little-known facts about the "successes" of the TSA. This one, for instance: "Notable triumphs have included seizing a tiny pair of wire cutters from a Special Forces veteran who had been shot in the jaw in Afghanistan and needed the cutters to snip his jaw open if he started to choke ..."


Jim reminds us that speaking a single indignant word to one of these TSA bullies, or even questioning their procedures, can get you arrested.

In the article about CAPPS II, you'll find this paragraph:

Suspected terrorists or violent criminals would be designated "red" and forbidden to fly. Passengers who raised questions would be classified "yellow" and would receive extra security screening. Most would be "green" and simply go through routine screening.

One question, of course, is why are "violent criminals" running around loose? But the best, and unintentionally ironic, part is the bit about "passengers who raised questions."

I'm sure by that phrase the TSA types and the reporter meant to imply "those who have bad credit" or "those who haven't filed tax returns" or "those who've been arrested for marijuana possession" or "those whose names sound too ethnic" or something like that. But how appropriate that they used that phrase -- "passengers who raised questions."

Yes, as hundreds of political activists (the ones on the "secret" no-fly list) have found, and as civil libertarians and angry American citizens have found, raising questions is indeed one of the best ways to lose your right to travel freely.

Any dissident from the old Soviet Union could have told you that.

They're gradually forbidding us uncooperative types access to airports, seaports, and international borders. Next come buses and railroads. What will we do when law, regulation, technology, cowardliness, and sheer masses of jackbooted thugs finally prevent us from driving on the public highways? What will we do on the day they can remotely shut off our vehicles, or program our vehicle tracking systems so that we "yellows" and "reds" are forbidden to enter certain freeway onramps or certain districts of cities? How will we live on this planet when that day comes?

Posted by Claire @ 12:01 PM CST

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