Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Former DHS Official Blames Privacy Advocates For TSA's Aggressive Procedures

timothy posted 1 year,10 days | from the it's-that-pesky-interest-in-freedom dept.

Government 325

colinneagle writes with an interesting excerpt from Senate testimony offered yesterday, on the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, from Stewart Baker. Baker formerly served as DHS Assistant Secretary and NSA General Counsel, and gave his opinion on the source of the real problems within the TSA, opining: "Unlike border officials, though, TSA ended up taking more time to inspect everyone, treating all travelers as potential terrorists, and subjecting many to whole-body imaging and enhanced pat-downs. We can't blame TSA for this wrong turn, though. Privacy lobbies persuaded Congress that TSA couldn't be trusted with data about the travelers it was screening. With no information about travelers, TSA had no choice but to treat them all alike, sending us down a long blind alley that has inconvenienced billions."

cancel ×

325 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Sounds like the lesser of two evils (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833635)

Sounds like the lesser of two evils to me. If you really think they would not have done both keeping data and the enhanced pat downs I have a bridge to sell you in New York. Slightly used.

Re:Sounds like the lesser of two evils (0)

LifesABeach (234436) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833779)

Isn't the same argument that was presented to an Indian Judge last week?

Defense Attorney: "Your Honour, my clients are not guilty of raping and murdering that woman, she was a woman; and she seduced them by the act of getting on the bus."

It's a shame this legal defencse went un-noticed at Nuremberg.

Re:Sounds like the lesser of two evils (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834067)

The Bus Seduction defense.

Re:Sounds like the lesser of two evils (5, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833847)

Furthermore, what the hell are they talking about anyway? Are they not aware of the TSA Secure Flight program? The no fly lists? Etc? You can't get anywhere near a commercial flight without the TSA knowing everything including your shoe size.

Re:Sounds like the lesser of two evils (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44834141)

If the TSA gets direct access to the NSA's data, your average TSA grunt will read his girlfriend's email and find out that yes, she has been cheating on him. He will then get out of his dead-end relationship, pick himself up and get out more, meet new people, and have more sex. Once his sexual frustration is gone, he won't have to take his frustration out on travellers by harassing them and thrashing their luggage.
The question we should be asking is, why does the EFF hate our luggage?

Sounds like evil to me (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833869)

The TSA checkpoints, pat downs, nude scanners, and so forth are a complete waste. No competent terrorist would be deterred by such things -- and "competent" here means "able to do more damage in an airplane than out." It is easy enough to make a makeshift weapon past the checkpoints, and the 9/11 hijackers all used makeshift weapons. I am not even plotting an attack and I can think of a half dozen ways to arm myself on the other side of a TSA checkpoint.

Basically the TSA is cover-your-ass security theater. If there is any kind of attack, nobody wants to be the politicians who voted to remove the TSA from our airports, regardless of whether or not the checkpoints make a difference.

Re:Sounds like evil to me (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834315)

It is easy enough to make a makeshift weapon past the checkpoints, and the 9/11 hijackers all used makeshift weapons. I am not even plotting an attack and I can think of a half dozen ways to arm myself on the other side of a TSA checkpoint.

Exactly - all the security theater in the world won't do you a lick of good so long as one can still convince an underpaid, disgruntled porter to stash weapons in the terminal for a couple hundred bucks.

Re:Sounds like evil to me (5, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834421)

Never mind that. Imagine someone wheeling a wheelie-suitcase consisting of explosives, nails, and warfarin powder into the TSA checkpoint -- you know, the ones consisting of a thousand people milling around waiting in line to take off their shoes and get groped -- and blowing it up.

You'd have a giant bloody mess, gobs of dead Americans, and a lot of very expensive theatrical equipment damaged, plus temporary paralysis of air travel, plus even more rules that impede travel.

The fact that nobody has done this yet points to al-Qaeda not trying very hard -- if they really did want to kill a bunch of Americans and terrorize us, they could do a lot better than the motley assortment of underpants bombers, shoe bombers, butt bombers (wasn't there one of those in Saudi Arabia?), and the like that have shown up lately.

Re:Sounds like the lesser of two evils (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833963)

The TSA had two choices. Treat them all alike and respect their Constitutional rights, or treat them all alike and ignore their Constitutional rights. The TSA chose the latter, and everyone involved with it deserves prosecution for deprivation of rights under color of law [justice.gov] .

Re:Sounds like the lesser of two evils (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44834295)

Or they could have treated people differently depending on who they are, and still respected the Constitutional rights of those that have them.
Which is the only kind of airplane security that makes sense anyway.

Re:Sounds like the lesser of two evils (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44834403)

Or how about recognizing that the locked cockpit door, and widespread public knowledge of the outcome of 9-11, are all that's really important to secure our air travel from 99.9999% of potential threats, acknowledge that all the rest is just Security Theater, and just let us on our way. That isn't as lucrative for business or expansive for government, though.

No Fly List (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833639)

Does he mean that type of information?

bizaro universe (5, Funny)

dissy (172727) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833643)

Yes, I was punching, kicking, and otherwise beating the crap out of this random person.
It was the fact they put their arms up to shield their face that resulted in such a horrible beating. I bare no fault what so ever for his actions which, despite being performed after I started the beating, are still somehow the reason for the beating.

Re:bizaro universe (5, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834013)

It was the fact they put their arms up to shield their face that resulted in such a horrible beating

You say this as a funny comment, but I've been told this seriously. Back in the second grade, my son was in lining up for an assembly (about bullying, ironically) when one kid (a known trouble-maker) started jumping forward in line. My son is sensitive about his personal space so when the kid jumped in front of him, my son put his arms up to protect his face. The kid hit my son hard in the stomach. Hard enough to send him to the nurse with bruises.

I had a meeting with the principal and teachers about it. After first denying anyone saw what happened, they then told me that my son started it by raising his hands. When they moved from that to "your son's not the TYPE to be bullied" (their exact wording), I ended the meeting and my wife came to bring my son home. We pulled him out of school and went to the superintendent to change schools since we didn't feel he was safe there.

Blaming the victim, sadly, is something that many people engage in instead of taking responsibility for their actions.

Re:bizaro universe (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834349)

A buddy of mine was just telling me last week that his 3rd grade daughter was suspended for defending herself against a known bully; the school's rationale? She had a conversation with the bully once before, which in their eyes counts as a willing confrontation.

I wonder, sometimes, how much more fucked up these policies can get before the pendulum swings in the other direction.

no your over blown response (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833645)

to a single event is to blame

Government shifting the blame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833663)

Color me surprised.

Brilliant (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833679)

What a strategy. Want to curtail both privacy and freedom? Set up a a blackmail scheme where you pit one against the other.

Re:Brilliant (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833901)

It is brilliant. Want to end the lengthy delays and degrading searches? Why, the public only has to trust us with all the private data we ask for. And, when it comes down to it, if we play our cards right we can probably get both in the name of "security" anyway.

Re:Brilliant (2)

intermodal (534361) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834011)

I'm sure glad I'm not falling for the false dilemma. But I'm also not pleased that my fellow countrymen almost definitely will. But in decreasing numbers.

ITT: rape victims are responsible (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833691)

Them females showing their ankles, that's begging for rape.

Re:ITT: rape victims are responsible (2)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833767)

Them females showing their ankles, that's begging for rape.

In this case, it would be blamed on inadvertently showing their ankles while the rape was occurring.

And the bully said... (5, Insightful)

jd2112 (1535857) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833727)

It's not my fault I beat you up. If you had just given me your lunch money you wouldn't have a black eye.

Re:And the bully said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44834093)

shouldn't your sig say 'sufficiently'?

Re:And the bully said... (2)

rickb928 (945187) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834139)

So you're going to bully jd2112 into changing their sig? Are you even reading this crap?

Re:And the bully said... (1)

MurukeshM (1901690) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834173)

No, it's the contrapositive of the more famous saying.

Re:And the bully said... (0)

claar (126368) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834123)

Too bad I can't mod you up past 5.

a no win situation. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833735)

dhs was created and given the impossible job of keeping everyone safe all the time.

if someone gets killed then dhs will be the scapegoat in endless congressional hearings.

what did we expect DHS and the TSA would do? i personally expect them to freak-the-fuck-out and go crazy with the aggressive techniques.

the public bitches no matter what.

Re:a no win situation. (2)

shentino (1139071) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833841)

The blame belongs first and foremost at the feet of "our" congress critters for making perfection in security a mission in the first place.

The TSA is complicit however and shares the blame, due to the very same principle that allows the feds themselves to bust co-conspirators for aiding and abetting.

Re:a no win situation. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834373)

dhs was created and given the impossible job of keeping everyone safe all the time.

Ah, well, there's the root of the problem - there is no Constitutionally guaranteed right to safety, or even the illusion of safety.

Dink.

blame equality (2)

magarity (164372) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833741)

I blame the mentality that profiling is some horrible crime, therefore everyone must be overly searched.

Re:blame equality (2)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833785)

I blame the mentality that profiling is some horrible crime, therefore everyone must be overly searched.

I see over-searching as a punishment for resisting profiling. That might be the same thing as you said.

Re:blame equality (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833797)

If you do that any bad actors will simply use those who do not fit your profile. See how silly you are being?

Re:blame equality (3, Funny)

Rob the Bold (788862) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833933)

If you do that any bad actors will simply use those who do not fit your profile. See how silly you are being?

I assure you that he won't see that. I checked his profile.

Re:blame equality (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833927)

The 9/11 attackers didn't fit any profile.

Unless you can come up with Tricorder that somehow finds a terrorist molecule in the body, the idea of profiling is useless.

Re:blame equality (1)

rickb928 (945187) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834183)

Really? I ask, having lived at the time about 4 miles from the motel where the Boston crew spent the night before, and having seen their photos.

I paid attention to that part of it.

Re:blame equality (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833949)

I am not a terrorist, nor will I ever be one. I should not have to live my life in fear that some government agency will decide based on some monitored action that I just might be one. That's why people want privacy. Freedom to live without fear. To not be harassed at the airport with extra delays, simply because you like model rockets or RC airplanes or making ice cream at home.

You might think they'll never profile you, because you're white and have money, but you never know what actions might be profiled. Some chemical you buy might be used to make bombs and you might not know that using your credit card to buy it will mark you for life as a potential terrorist. That's what the TSA wants. That's what this guy is asking for instead of hiring enough people so that I don't wait 20 minutes for a 30 second screening.

Blame stupidity (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833955)

The checkpoints are a waste of time and money that have not stopped a single realistic terrorist plot. Profiling is irrelevant, already performed, and does not improve the effectiveness of the TSA checkpoints. This is a distraction from the real issue: billions of wasted dollars, millions of travelers intimidated into giving up their civil rights, and nothing to show for any of it.

Re:blame equality (1)

shentino (1139071) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833959)

Racial profiling works well because believe it or not, terrorists are often from countries that have either a government, a population, or both that have a beef with the United States.

This has an obvious correlation with race and nation of origin, and the benefits of racial or ethnic profiling are likewise obvious even if indirectly so.

Unlike with strip searching everyone from Kolechia though, we can do better than Arstotzka. We can be safe without being jerks. I bet you that the TSA would get a LOT more cooperation if it gave some common decency to the innocent bystanders it will inevitably run across while trying to sniff out the real terrorists.

But it's still wise to be suspicious of Kolechians. They're more pissed at Arstotzka than the others, so they're more likely to be trouble.

Re:blame equality (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834079)

Racial profiling works

...to accomplish what? The TSA checkpoints are not going to stop competent terrorists. The 9/11 hijackers would have had just as easy a time using some glass shards (from, say, a bottle purchased at a duty free shop) as boxcutters. A laptop has plenty of long, sharp metal pieces in it, perfect for creating a makeshift knife.

That is why this is dumb. If a terrorist wants to blow up a plane, he can kill just as many people (if not more) by blowing up an airport -- maybe while standing on line for security, or at a ticket counter, or at a border checkpoint. If a terrorist wants to hijack a plane, he does not need to carry anything through security, and taking him aside to harass him for an hour will not stop his plot.

Of course, profiling is a great way to appease people who have a problem with brown-skinned people, Arabic-speaking people, or whatever group we decide we hate next. Meanwhile, the same people we are harassing could have been working with us to find the real terrorists -- if they moved here to America, it is probably because they wanted to escape the terrorists in their home country, and could have been allies in fighting those terrorists.

Oh well, there could not be a problem with having only a dozen Arabic speakers working at the CIA, right? It's not like we keep going to war in Arab countries...

Re:blame equality (1)

rickb928 (945187) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834323)

"Of course, profiling is a great way to appease people who have a problem with brown-skinned people, Arabic-speaking people, or whatever group we decide we hate next."

It seems to me that the problem is the brown-skinned people, Arabic-speaking people, or whatever group that hates us. We hate them because they acted on their hate. They hate that too.

And they moved here a long time ago. I played soccer one summer with students from Egypt, Iran, Norway, Nigeria, Columbia, and England. We got along fabulously well. I profiled them based on their habits on the field, not their habits in the toilet or over a stove, and certainly not by the color of their skin. And neither did the mix of local high-school and college students, and alleged adults...

Re:blame equality (2)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834201)

Racial profiling works well because believe it or not, terrorists are often from countries...

You have confused "race" with "national origin".

Re:blame equality (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833981)

Please explain how profiling is not a horrible crime.

"You deserve this for being of the same ethnicity that's statistically most likely to cause us trouble! Spread those legs, hands over your head!"

Re:blame equality (2)

Hatta (162192) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834019)

You only say that because you are not the subject of profiling. If you were regularly harassed for no reason other than the color of your skin, or your country of origin, you'd understand why profiling is a horrible crime. It's directly contrary to the presumption of innocense on which any actual justice system must be founded.

Re:blame equality (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44834317)

Profiling should be psychological not racial. Look at body language/facial expressions for pointers and have a talk to anyone that looks suspect. This could be done by a trained person posing as another traveler trying to start a conversation and could be escalated from there.

Re:blame equality (1)

rickb928 (945187) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834159)

So the answer is to profile everybody. And to do it badly, I submit.

Yep. Gummint.

I am sorry I you raped me (4, Insightful)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833759)

It was all my fault for standing in line. Being there.

Won't happen again.

Re:I am sorry I you raped me (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833889)

I hear ya. Our family doesn't travel to the US anymore. I hear what the american gov does to their own people; I sure the hell aren't going to give them a chane to pull that crap on my kids.

Re:I am sorry I you raped me (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833891)

Should have drawn a red line; no one will blame you then. The universe drew the line, you just happened to be standing there, being in line.

Actually . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833781)

the problem rests in the TSA's basic operational principle which is both invasive and arguably a violation of the 4th Amendment. The Israelis have a much greater problem with terrorists than we do and yet their airport screening procedures are far less intrusive. They use what much what used to be the standard American procedures combined with officers trained to detect suspicious behaviors in waiting passengers. Works for them and it would work for us if we'd invest in properly training and retaining personnel instead of using hiring and training practices one usually associates poorly run fast food chains. That being said, the idea of perfect airport security outside of a permanent military installation is an illusion. There are simply too many people coming and going on a daily basis to make the thing work. People who work in airports - having greater access to sensitive areas - pose a far greater threat vector than passengers.

Re:Actually . . . (3, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833969)

the problem rests in the TSA's basic operational principle which is both invasive and arguably a violation of the 4th Amendment. The Israelis have a much greater problem with terrorists than we do and yet their airport screening procedures are far less intrusive.

Far less intrusive? Flying out of Ben Gurion, you have to stop and be questioned by airport employees at some three or four checkpoints, and when your bags are being swabbed down and tested for chemical agents, they might decide to question you yet again. Yes, they are efficient and they move you through the airport somewhat faster than you might expect, but they get up in your face much more than TSA staff.

In any event, while the Israeli method does involve scrutinizing everyone's responses to the security agents' questions, it also allows profiling of passengers according to national origin, race or religion. Barring major changes to law, the USA is not able to adopt their methods entirely.

Re:Actually . . . (1)

whoever57 (658626) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834267)

Far less intrusive? Flying out of Ben Gurion, you have to stop and be questioned by airport employees at some three or four checkpoints, and when your bags are being swabbed down and tested for chemical agents

In the mid-nineties, I experienced something similar going through the channel tunnel from the UK to France. Our car was stopped, I was asked to step out of my car and was questioned by an agent of some kind (complete with ear bud) who asked me about where I was from, where I was going, etc.. He asked me if a town was near to the one that I was from (it wasn't); I assume his collegue in the office had a map and was feeding him questions that would probe the truth of my answers. Our luggage was swabbed and the swabs tested.

I had been pulled out for extra checks before boarding flights around that time, so I suspect that I had got onto some kind of watch list.

Accountability (5, Insightful)

LeifOfLiberty (2812101) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833805)

No, the problem with the TSA is that they exist in the first place. Airlines should be responsible for ensuring their flights are safe. When airlines handle safety they can be held accountable if they do it poorly or they mistreat their customers. The TSA can clearly never be held accountable for anything.

Re:Accountability (3, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833887)

The incentives in that case would be in the wrong place, which is why that practice was discontinued. Unfortunately, now the incentives are in a different wrong place. The TSA is not rewarded for being pleasant and minimally intrusive, so they aren't.

Re:Accountability (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834221)

How are the incentives in the wrong place? The airlines need security theater; people are already fearful of flying, and fear of being killed by terrorists while flying only makes that worse.

The key is to remember that checkpoints do not keep you safe on an airplane. You can walk through a checkpoint with all kinds of sharp objects -- like all those sharp metal bits in your laptop -- all kinds of explosive chemicals -- like batteries -- and then you can buy more things that are easily turned into weapons on the other side of the checkpoint. We have checkpoints because the government wants to remind people that something is being done, and it works -- people were terrified to hear that the TSA would relax the knife rule to something approaching sensible, and nobody cared about the number of other dangerously sharp things people are allowed to carry through.

If airlines were responsible for security, this would all be simplified. No corrupt contracts for nude scanners, because the airlines cannot afford to dump money on that garbage. No nude scanners means no pointless groping -- the groping was always a punishment reserved for anyone who refused a scan (gotta make sure the machines are used, right?). Too annoying and the airline's profits suffer, as they should (and as long as there is a TSA, nobody should fly unless they have to cross a distance that is beyond driving / train range).

Re:Accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833917)

"No, the problem with the TSA is that they exist in the first place. Airlines should be responsible for ensuring their flights are safe. When airlines handle safety they can be held accountable if they do it poorly or they mistreat their customers. The TSA can clearly never be held accountable for anything."

Mod this parent up please

Re:Accountability (1)

wonkavader (605434) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834045)

I like this idea a LOT. Security would go WAY down, lines would speed up, the searches would be polite. If a plane blew up, the airline would get sued for about a figure that an actuary could neatly estimate. They'd only inconvenience their customers up to a point where the chance that they'd lose repeat business was cost-effective. Perfect.

But the TSA grabs everyone at the start of the terminal. The terminals are used by multiple airlines. How do you see that getting broken up by airline? Pooling? That spoils the effect. Mutliple lines?

The airlines would be forced to get some real security on the tickets, to avoid them being forged. Heck we might see some real security instead of security theatre if someone's money was on the line, as opposed to a politician's job.

But some airlines would muff it badly. You'd need to issue some proof of going through security and verify it when you boarded, so that folks didn't go through some lax airline's security and then board their real flight.

What must be avoid at all costs is the airport providing the security as a service to the airline. Then there's no global standard, no one with a lot to lose, disregard for the customer, etc.

Actually, quite logical (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833819)

I read this as "We can't profile, so we are less efficient." Police say the same thing and it's probably true. This is one of those trade-offs for liberty where it is good that we recognize the cost of the decision.

Just remember: it doesn't mean this was the wrong decision. It doesn't mean that phony whole-body scanners that don't work are a good idea. It's not an excuse for detaining people who recite the constitution. It doesn't justify searching laptops without a warrant.

Last question: What information does the TSA want that they don't have? We know they get the names of passengers, and they have a list of "detain these people." Do they want to know our religious beliefs? Ethnicity? Country of origin? Shopping habits? It is interesting that the article points out that the people doing the border searches get a lot more information than the TSA.

Re:Actually, quite logical (5, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834071)

Exactly. Just like the police would probably catch a whole lot more "bad guys" if they could just bust into whomever's house they wanted to on a whim, go through their stuff looking for evidence, and not have to worry about warrants or anything. However, there are very good reasons that we prevent them from doing this. First and foremost because this power would be abused to intimidate. ("You said something we don't like so we're going to 'search' your house twice a week until we find something to lock you up on. Or until you shut up. Or until you resist the slightest bit so we're justified in shooting you.")

Re:Actually, quite logical (0)

thewolfkin (2790519) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834099)

What information does the TSA want that they don't have? We know they get the names of passengers, and they have a list of "detain these people." Do they want to know our religious beliefs? Ethnicity? Country of origin? Shopping habits?

I'm pretty sure they do have our passports though right? That's a fair amount of information right there. It's just never enough. Next time i meet a girl who can't get enough sex I'm gonna tell her she' slike the TSA.. that'll blow her mind.. right before i do.

Priceless (1, Troll)

Rigel47 (2991727) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833823)

.. so now, because you can not build your own registry of American travelers, we are supposed to either submit to your useless, invasive procedures (that still can't detect things in body cavities) or "opt-in" to the Trusted Traveler [tsa.gov] program? Are those the two choices, Stewart? How about the TSA goes away and airline security is handed over to the airlines themselves.

The DHS and its bastard offspring the TSA would have our founding fathers rolling and vomiting in their graves. To say nothing of the NSA.

Before there were any privacy advocates (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833825)

There surely must have been a reason that the first 'privacy advocate' ever in existence decided to be vocal about civil liberties and privacy rights and expectations.

Surely this person did not just wake up one day and have fear out of the blue.

I'm thinking someone somewhere was first a victim of some form of privacy invasion.

So by the TSA's logic the privacy advocate started it? We should have all just dropped our pants to our ankles up front 10 years ago, and those of us who did not want to (most of us if not all of us) are to blame for the failure that is the TSA today?

They really do think we're all that stupid. Or they really are as stupid as we all have been making fun of the TSA to be. Either way, there's a lot of stupid going on here, somewhere.

Liar!! (4, Informative)

MatthiasF (1853064) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833835)

They have had the data since 2008.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Flight [wikipedia.org]

Every person's name that has flown, what airline, what flight, gender, etc.

ALL OF IT FOR ALMOST FIVE YEARS.

And have they caught anyone using it? Not that I've seen.

stupid (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833855)

The thing about international terrorism is that they are patient. If you go by profiles and you stop searching 70 year old grannies, eventually they will find a way to radicalize 70 year old grannies. We aren't talking football hooligans here. The 9/11 attackers didn't fit the profile for "professional terrorist" either, they looked like I.T. people in Kakkis.

Re:stupid (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834165)

70 year old grannies from where?

I thought treating them equally is a "feature" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833859)

It means that a (rarely observed) potential terrorist can't disguise themselves as a "normal" person that is unlikely to be screened.

Are they saying that a useful "feature" of their screening process is actually a "bug"? That seems dumb and inconsistent with what has been stated previously. Granted, it would be nice to focus attention on the people who you think are a greater risk ... but that assessment could be spectacularly wrong, especially if people get the idea of how the filtering works and start gaming the system.

The Horror! (5, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833863)

With no information about travelers, TSA had no choice but to treat them all alike,

What a horrifying reality, in which the government is forced to treat all citizens as equal. If the government were only allowed to pick and choose the dissidents to subject to harsh treatment and intimidation, all the properly submissive subjects would be free to do anything that doesn't irritate the lordship. You see, it is not the ruling elite who are imposing these restrictions that are harming you, it is your filthy fellow peasants. If you could all simply learn to kneel and submit to the natural authority of the nobility, you would all be happier.

Re:The Horror! (-1, Troll)

oodaloop (1229816) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834007)

Wow, good thing you didn't blow that out of proportion. You might have sounded like a buffoon.

I think what he's saying is that there are many people that don't need to be searched. Police officers, for instance. Are they not already trusted and scrutinized? Active duty military. Those with security clearances. I am former active duty military with 4 separate concealed carry permits issued, all with background checks done. I have a Top Secret clearance, with three separate extensive background checks done. And I have a polygraph done, during which I was asked if I was a terrorist. And I passed. So one branch of the federal government is sufficiently convinced I am not a terrorist to allow me access to sensitive materials. But the TSA has to treat me like a terrorist, because they're not allowed to keep a record of me. There are millions of people in the US who don't need to be treated like terrorists every time they travel. If those who are already trusted can proceed with minimal checks, then it would make it easier to check everyone else.

At least, that's how I interpreted his remarks. YMMV.

Re:The Horror! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44834129)

wow did you ever miss the point its basically the opposite of your take on it, he suggests that everyone should be treated equally, kinda makes sense doesn't it, your whole government claims to be based on shit like that equality etc etc no?

at least, thats how i interpreted his remarks YMMV.
--
land of the ignorant and home of the warmonger

Re:The Horror! (2)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834215)

But the TSA has to treat me like a terrorist, because they're not allowed to keep a record of me.

Actually, the TSA is quite allowed to "keep records of you." That's how their "speedy security bypass" for elite travelers that can't be bothered with the same checks the hoi polloi must endure.

What TSA is not allowed to do is dip into the vast treasure trove of data the government has been gathering about all of us, illegally and unconstitutionally, since 9/11.

I've seen no arguments that demonstrates we 1) Can't live without the "Security" theatre procedures being used on travelers at our airports and 2) That any amount of privacy invasion of law-abiding citizens will produce "more security."

If you look at the people TSA has "caught" with their "procedures," none of them (Not a single one) has been a terrorist. There have been plenty of currency smugglers, drug smugglers, and dissidents captured, and their electronic devices subjected to search, but exactly ZERO terrorists have been caught at TSA. Which sort of pokes a hole in the whole "necessary to keep us safe" argument for TSA...

Re:The Horror! (1)

Chelloveck (14643) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834281)

If those who are already trusted can proceed with minimal checks, then it would make it easier to check everyone else.

I wonder what a program like that would look like [tsa.gov] ?

Basically, everything in that article is predicated on the claim that "we can't keep data", when in fact they can and do keep all manner of data. It's nothing but a disingenuous attempt to shift the blame away from the TSA and onto privacy groups and the public at large.

In other news... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833867)

Pedestrian's unwillingness to voluntarily surrender the contents of their pockets is the primary reason for so many of today's muggings.

Re:In other news... (1)

thewolfkin (2790519) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834121)

Pedestrian's unwillingness to voluntarily surrender the contents of their pockets is the primary reason for so many of today's stop & frisk searches.

FTFY

Reasonably (2)

spectrokid (660550) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833881)

I'm a foreigner. I had the honor to be subjected to both your border guard and TSA. I wouldn't trust them with a fucking fruitcake.

The cost for not profiling passengers (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833883)

The universal group is a direct result of being unwilling to profile passengers based on criteria such as "males of Middle Eastern origin" or "Muslims" just because 99+% of terrorists fit that profile, because doing so would be Politically Incorrect.

Evidently being part of the "Reality Based Community" doesn't involve being willing to deal with the reality of which ethnic groups the overwhelming majority of terrorists come from.

Re:The cost for not profiling passengers (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44834133)

If you focus on the group whose members have, historically, made up the vast majority of terrorists attacking the US, then you're looking for white, male, Christian citizens of the US. Muslims (of any description) are about 5th on the list.

Re:The cost for not profiling passengers (1)

thewolfkin (2790519) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834191)

the problem is that even if 99% of terrorists are "Muslims" that doesn't mean that 99% of "Muslims" are terrorists. At that point you might as well just shut the door to "Muslims" and call it your solution to terrorism. In short if you make racial profiling literal policy it will affect people socially. People will start to see "Muslims" as terrorists. On top of which the effectiveness of said solution is short lived. They're terrorists not retards.

Dear Mr/Mrs Member of Congress (5, Funny)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833903)

Dear Mr/Mrs Member of Congress,

Anyone that impedes process of Authority by invoking their Constitutional Rights is an un-American terrorist sympathizer who should be locked up in one of our Secret Prisons under Secret laws to be tried at some future date in a Secret court.

The Constitution is the most Un-American thing about America and should be abolished. The TSA and DHS need swift, unquestioned Authority to protect us from those who would harm America and to speed up those long lines at Airport Security Checkpoints and the long lines we shall soon be seeing at Security Checkpoints at Shopping Centers, Train and Bus Terminals and many other major facilities across the Nation

Love,

Stewart Baker

Re:Dear Mr/Mrs Member of Congress (3, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834117)

We must protect the Constitution by any means necessary!

And by any means, I mean gathering up all copies and putting them in a cellar without lights or stairs, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a "Beware of The Leopard" sign on the door.

Only then will we ensure our freedoms remain safe.

Institutional paranoia (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833909)

Cops assume that if you lawyer up top protect your rights you must be guilty/suspect. The TSA is no different. If we work to protect everyone's rights then everyone must be guilty/suspect.

False Dichotomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44833915)

This argument presents a false dichotomy between access to private data and bodily privacy invasion.

Damned pesky constitution (2)

stox (131684) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833919)

gets in the way of all of our law enforcement efforts.

Liquid vortex (2)

Stumbles (602007) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833929)

I have little to no trust with the people working within my government at this time and none in the people from bottom to the top levels in the TSA . They (TSA) needs flushing down the gape of the porcelain maw.

Bullshit (2)

aepervius (535155) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833957)

CAPS and CAPS 2 , forced the airline to deliver so many data on traveler going *into* the USA it ain't funny. If it was the case that more data would lead to less ivnasive search, I would not have to go thru one , as do my fellow traveller, travelling *into* the USA.

I had some quips I was going to respond with (2)

intermodal (534361) | 1 year,10 days | (#44833989)

but then I read a hundred other posts saying the exact same things. Out of anybody but a government, this reasoning in use is, in a nutshell, a fast-track to getting convicted as a felon. She wouldn't have sex with me, so I had to rape her. He protected his face, that's why I had to beat him senseless. She wouldn't give me her lunch money voluntarily, that's why I had to punch her in the stomach until she gave it to me. He wouldn't give me his bank account information, that's why I had to go through his mail.

Well I guess they accidently kept us safe from. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44834017)

People who would flip sides like the army soldier did.

Is he stupid or a liar? (1)

fnj (64210) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834033)

Well, which is it? Let's say they had exhaustive information and fingerprints on everybody in the world. Yeah, it has to be the world, because what if somebody from Monaco flies to Mexico, drives into the US, and then wants to fly out. But you can't guarantee any given person is "OK" just because you know a lot of stuff about him. Anyone could get radicalized or lose his mind at any time, or just have a secret life and secret thoughts.

Think, people. The nazis knew who Stauffenburg was. He was a Colonel in the Wehrmacht; "of course" he was "OK". But that didn't mean he couldn't carry a bomb into Hitler's briefing room.

So the idea that if they were allowed to steal everyone's privacy, that would enable them to magically be able to forego checking everyone out every time they fly ... is RIDICULOUS. Baker is either stupid, or he is blowing shit out of his ass.

The wet dream of the statists is illusory. They can never stamp out alienation because it goes along with free will. They can make slaves and they can make a large proportion into sheep, but they can't wish away free will. They would do better to ask themselves why no airplane passengers had to submit to being intrusively searched by thugs in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s and statistically next to 0% of planes were hijacked, exploded, or crashed into big buildings until fairly recently.

Everybody whines after years of safety (0)

stevez67 (2374822) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834047)

But the next time there is a terrorist act carried out using a commercial flight everyone will be shrieking about how the gov't didn't do enough.

Re:Everybody whines after years of safety (1)

MrLint (519792) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834153)

Well it could start by not ignoring actual reports of people doing things, instead of being reactive and banning water.

The fluidity of terror (1)

MrLint (519792) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834127)

So which, pray tell, personal data would they take as sufficient to allow water to be carried again?

Of course as we know all those potential explosives (that are too dangerous to allowed on a plane) are disposed of.. on site.. in a trash can.... at the screening station.......

Bullshit! (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834149)

In the US, Political Correctness trumps Common Sense and Privacy every time.

What is the purpose of the TSA? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834211)

The article pointed to a recent USA Today [usatoday.com] article that says:

We're unimpressed with the weekly tallies posted on the TSA blog of weapons confiscated by screeners; we just want to know when they've stopped a terrorist from blowing up a plane

Is that what the TSA exists for? The 9/11 terrorists did not blow-up a plane. Instead, they crashed a plane into a building. So is the TSA there to stop another 9/11, or to stop terrorists from blowing-up a plane? In reality, they aren't necessary to stop either of these goals.

As for the 9/11 goal: That happened because the cockpit doors were unlocked, and because nobody really thought about the possibility of crashing the plane into a national icon. So simple procedures + public awareness makes a repeat of that scenario impossible.

As for the blow-up goal: Did we have a lot of planes getting blown-up by terrorists before the TSA? Nope! Has the TSA detected lots of bombs on planes? Nope! If the TSA was nothing other than an officer walking around the airport, he would have foiled as many plots as this $7 billion organization.

Re:What is the purpose of the TSA? (2)

SnarfQuest (469614) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834405)

As for the blow-up goal: Did we have a lot of planes getting blown-up by terrorists before the TSA? Nope! Has the TSA detected lots of bombs on planes? Nope! If the TSA was nothing other than an officer walking around the airport, he would have foiled as many plots as this $7 billion organization.

Who causes more problems at the airport? TSA agents stealing from passengers, or terrorists blowing up planes?

Stand-in for Pat Robertson? Rush Limbaugh? (1)

turning in circles (2882659) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834213)

Instead of blaming homosexuals (Pat) or liberals (Rush) for all the problems in the world, what this country needs is a new advocate who has really found the immoral evil lurking in our society: privacy advocates. Gee, Pat and Rush have done plenty of damage without full governmental backing. Can't wait to see what damage Mr. Baker will cause with his twisted rhetoric.

Read the text behind his wiki entry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44834223)

If you take his wiki entry at face value, this guy, in all likelihood, had a very real hand in what the TSA was turned into, and what the NSA has done against the American people. If you dig a little deeper, it gets a little more slimey, and clear! I'm sure his book from the mid 70's on scrutinizing US citizen rights to travel would be an interesting read into this guys entire life right about now!

He's a lingering reminder of former President G.H.W Bush, and ties to all things with clandestine legalese. We're still feeling the effects of Reagan/Bush1 era assholes! Will these people NOT FUCKING GO AWAY!?!

But the privacy advocates were right... (1)

larwe (858929) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834345)

... Border officers are officers of the USCIS. They can be (or I should say, they are) trusted with passenger data because they are considerably better trained (and I daresay better paid) than the occasionally-background-checked high school dropout failed mall cop candidates employed by the TSA.

tsa is unneeded (1)

Dan667 (564390) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834371)

what they really should be debating how quickly the tsa can be disbanded as they are not providing any actual security.

Uh huh... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834415)

Here's what I'm hearing:

Yeah, so, we could either do Option B, which is inconvenient, or Option C, which we weren't allowed to do since it's illegal, so we went with B.

No mention of the obvious omission of Option A: don't invade people's privacy. Ya know, like how it worked for the first several decades of commercial aviation in the US.

Wonder why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#44834417)

So his basic position is that "we had to search the persons of travelers because we weren't allowed unfettered access to their records and the ability to create a massive database of "undesired" citizens"? And some government officials wonder why people think their authority should be limited.

It makes total sense. (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | 1 year,10 days | (#44834425)

If we would simply provide the TSA information of who are the terrorists, then they would only need to body scan the terrorists instead of everybody. And if we scan only terrorists, logically, everyone the TSA doesn't scan is not a terrorist, and therefore safe to let on the plane. I don;t see any problems with this at all.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>