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Sunday, July 18

Fear of Flying

We've all heard stories about little old ladies with walkers being taken aside at airports and screened. We've heard of kids having to take their shoes off at check points in the airports. We've heard of Arab men strolling right through the screening areas of airports. We don't want to insult Arabs by checking them all out, especially if a whole bunch of them board a flight with one way tickets or anything. The U.S. is very politically correct isn't it? On the other hand, we know that John AshKKKroft has been pursuing our most private details ad nauseum and the screeners will take a blonde haired blue eyed family and delay them for hours going through their luggage with a fine tooth comb and other baggage won't even be looked at. The system stinks. There are abuses in the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System too.

When asked Wednesday whether the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System II (CAPPS II) was dead, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge jokingly pretended to put a stake in its heart and said, "Yes". Six of the 10 largest airlines are known to have given data to the government secretly. The TSA or its contractors may have violated the Privacy Act, which prohibits the government from compiling secret databases on Americans. Officials could face civil and criminal penalties. USA Today is happy about less-intrusive flier screening. "The government finally acknowledged this week what many travelers, airlines, lawmakers and privacy advocates had been telling it for more than a year. A plan to snoop into the lives of all airline passengers to determine whether they pose a terrorism risk is too intrusive to fly."

The Twin Cities then set up a plan for frequent fliers where they can set up in advance a background check with a fingerprint or iris scan so that they can speedily get through security screening. In other words, they can give up their privacy in order to board faster.

But it seems that on top of all of this that the screeners aren't even doing their jobs anyway. Mother Jones reports that 2 men who work for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lost their jobs as security trainers after complaining that screeners weren't inspecting luggage properly, there aren't enough screeners and on busy days, bags are barely screened at all. "They have filed for federal whistleblower protection status, making them 2 of 45 former TSA employees who have claimed wrongful termination to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Both say they want to honor the oath they took when starting at TSA—that safety would be their top priority."

Meanwhile the president keeps telling us we are so safe since we bombed the sh-t out of Baghdad yet we should be prepared for al Qaida to attack us. Osama "he's not my concern" bin Laden is up to no good again and doesn't want Bush to win the election.

This story Terror in the Skies, Again? is told by a woman who flew from Detroit to LA on June 29 with 14 middle eastern men who spent most of the flight in the lavatories with their bags, returning to their seats without their bags, getting up, going back to the lavatories, meeting in the back of the plane all while nothing was done by anyone on the plane. She recounts her terror on the flight. Yes the flight was met in LA by FBI agents and there were Federal Air Marshalls on the flight she later found out. The US Marshalls told the woman afterwards that they could not intervene during the flight unless something happened. you mean unless a bomb exploded? She later found this article in the Observer: "Terrorist bid to build bombs in mid-flight: Intelligence reveals dry runs of new threat to blow up airliners"

It turns out due to rules against discrimination, they can't screen more than 2 Arab males. So these Arab "musicians" who boarded the plane didn't have their instrument bags looked at. Nice. Two days after the harrowing flight however, a new directive was issued: "The U.S. Transportation and Security Administration has issued a new directive which demands pilots make a pre-flight announcement banning passengers from congregating in aisles and outside the plane's toilets. The directive also orders flight attendants to check the toilets every two hours for suspicious packages."

Supposedly nothing was found to be fishy on that flight. Well that is what they told the woman.

To be continued....

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