Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Journalists, Privacy, Progressivism, and Subservience to the State

[Update, November 24, 11:30 AM]: Like Pavlov's dog salivating at the bell, the New York Times has weighed in on the TSA nonsense and, not surprisingly, claims that any opposition is just a right-wing plot by Congressional Republicans. Yes, the newspaper that gave us the Duke Lacrosse lies now claims that sexual assault and porn scanners are just fine if they are in an airport, and that little old ladies from Iowa really are a threat.

My response is here.[End Update]

As one who grew up reading the Chattanooga Times most of my life, I have come to understand the so-called Progressivist mindset which takes an out-and-out religious view of state power (or state power in the hands of the "right" people). While the newspaper itself claims to be secular, there is no doubt that over the years, it has promoted the Religion of the "Progressive" State and State Power both in its news columns and on the editorial page.

These days the old Times and Free Press now are owned by folks in Arkansas and the editorial pages are run by the old editors, but the Progressivism remains. I especially was curious to see how the editorial writers of the Times side of the TFP would handle the outright sexual assault that is occurring at the nation's airports.

No paper excoriates the "gulf" between the wealthy and poor (except it champions George Soros, the billionaire champion of the hard left) more than the TFP, and no paper is more politically correct when it comes to the usual feminist canards of sexual assault and the intrusions of state power into private exchange. Here is an editorial page that professes to worship at the shrine of "good government" to a point that is utterly predictable.

So, I decided to do a search of its editorials to see if it had any editorial commentary on the airport assaults, and I will say that editors Harry Austin and Wes Hasden took exactly the stand I thought they would take. The editorial writers that are quick to demand that Americans' privacy be protected from "predatory" private enterprise suddenly declare that when we are bowing to the state, there is no privacy.

Even the title of its November 18 editorial is telling: "New, useful tools against terror." Yes, in order to fight "terror," the government must terrorize airline passengers. Furthermore, as readers will see in this editorial, literally EVERYTHING the government says is taken as absolute truth, and any dissension by mere mundanes is wrong and plays to terrorists. Don't take my word for it, as the opening paragraph says it all:
The U.S. government is required by law and by custom to balance the competing interests of public safety and individual privacy. The latest skirmish over the issue is taking place at the nation’s airports. The introduction of full-body scanners at many sites and the promise of more to come have prompted a noisy debate about the images produced by the machines. Privacy advocates call them invasive and demeaning. Federal officials say they are a necessary adjunct in the war on terror. On balance, the latter appear to have the stronger case.
Why is the government's case the "stronger" argument?
Scanner opponents, in fact, call the images a “virtual strip search.” That might be so, but the new technology also provides security personnel with an enhanced ability to detect items and materials that can be used by terrorists to destroy an aircraft in flight or otherwise create havoc. Many experts agree the new scanner might have helped detect the type of bomb concealed in the underwear of a would-be terrorist on a Detroit-bound flight last Christmas. That threat was not detected by screens in use then, but the bomber’s mission ultimately proved unsuccessful.
No, the "experts" can tell you that the so-called Underwear Bomber's apparatus would not have been detected by the porn scanners. Furthermore, the idea that travelers have to be humiliated by TSA goons because someone unsuccessfully tried to sneak a bomb in his underwear is becoming a tiresome mantra, but when a newspaper is promoting State Power, any mantra will do, I guess.

But, Austin and Hasden are not satisfied with giving us the "Underwear Bomber" line. No, there is much, much more:
The question, of course, is whether the utility of the machine outweighs the perceived or real intrusion of privacy the scanner images create. The TSA, mindful of the delicacy of the issues involved, has done as much as possible to minimize such dangers.

The image produced by the scanner, according to those who have viewed them, is detailed enough to detect various explosives, weapons, plastics, powders and other devices that can pose a threat. The outline, though, is vague and faces are blurred.

Moreover, the images are viewed by personnel at a distance from security stations where the scans are made. That makes it impossible to match a specific image with a particular person. Once viewed, scanned images are neither saved nor stored. That should provide a measure of comfort for those concerned about privacy. (Emphasis mine)
Yes, try telling that to the man whose urine bag was breached. Try telling that to the woman whose breasts were exposed by laughing TSA agents (none of whom were disciplined -- but the husband who complained was arrested).

For that matter, don't forget that TSA agents do not use "sterile" gloves, which means that it is very likely that they can spread infections (not that anyone at TSA would care). What I find ironic is that no one at the Times (which always is out front on supposed environmental and health matters) finds this to be a problem. Yes, the same newspaper that constantly is demanding new state "protections" against predatory private enterprise takes a powder when the state engages in unsafe health practices.

Let's be honest. The entire editorial is nothing more than a glorified TSA press release bolstered by the Religion of the Progressive State that characterizes most editorials on that page. In fact, much of what was in that press release -- er, editorial -- was not true. Images HAVE been saved. Furthermore, the newspaper that trumpets every perceived environmental and health threat (when it comes from private enterprise) suddenly parrots the government's line that the radiation coming from the porn scanners is "safe."

Of course, the TFP would not be complete without its "Worship the Obama administration -- or else" dictate:
If would-be airline passengers prefer not to be scanned, there is an alternative — what John Pistole, the TSA administrator, candidly admits is a more invasive patdown than those depicted on TV or in the movies. TSA agents will manually search an individual’s entire body, including breasts and groin. Those who don’t like the new scanners or the idea of full-body patdowns have another choice. They can travel by some means other than airplane. (Emphasis mine)
So, the TFP is on the record as endorsing what legally is sexual assault as an alternative, with the qualifier: If you don't like it, you don't have to fly.

So, we see the end game of Progressivism and its propagandists. It is this: State power is good. Submit. Private enterprise is evil. Government always protects you. And so on and on and on.


Doc Ellis 124 said...


Thank you for writing this

Doc Ellis 124

KC Sprayberry said...

What I find interesting, when this first came into public scrutiny, was Isreal's viewpoint. One of their top security analysts spoke at a conference and said - these scanners can't and will never find all bomb materials. Isreal will never have them. I can go through these scanners with enough bomb material to blow up a large area in addition to a plane and these scanners will not find it. This is a paraphrase of what he actually said, as I can't find the quotes now. But it's extremely intersting the one country known for their security won't use these machines nor will they use pat-down's described as akin to sexual assualt to find bomb materials. What it all boils down to is Americans hitting the airline industry where it counts. Stop flying. Find other methods of transportation where the scanners/invasive pat-down's don't exist. When the airlines start screaming at the government about losing profits and demand bailouts that other private enterprises have profited from, the government will listen. It's time for Americans to give up on some luxuries, such as flying to a family gathering to cut down on how much time it takes to get there, so we can force our government to hear what we have to say. Unfortunately, that won't happen until a few more rights disappear and people begin wondering just how that happened.
BTW - my husband and I don't fly unless it's absolutely necessary. About once every five years, if that much. Why? Most mechanics were in the military and from experience, we know just how they fixed those planes.

GerhardRP said...

"Try telling that to the woman whose breasts were exposed by laughing TSA agents (none of whom were disciplined -- but the husband who complained was arrested)."
This incident was from 2002, and it was her maternity pants exposed, not her breasts.

William L. Anderson said...

Yes, and she said they lifted up her shirt and exposed her breast. Sorry pal, I don't accept the endorsement of the TSA on this page.

Read the husband's account. Of course, I am sure that you know better.

Puzzled said...

They continue to tell us we can "travel by other means" and the airlines don't speak up. How come the insurance companies get the government forcing us to buy their product, and airlines don't object to the government pushing people away from their product?

The real question, though, is why this line is supposed to help, when they are planning to expand this to trains, buses, and ferries. What will they say then - you can stay home?

Parental Alienation Solution said...

Stripped of all rights and dignity, the whole TSA encounter places unsuspecting families, children and individuals in a virtual state of police arrest, exactly like a criminal booking procedure.

A rationale system of security based on evaluating individual profiles and behavioral history toward the aim of establishing pre-clearance standards for the majority of people who fly would preclude the state’s efforts to cause reason for retaining this army of mindlessly loyal, misanthropic thugs dressed in military costumes who senselessly and vigorously harass and abuse the public travelers at large. To build a rationale system of security based on efficiency, respect for natural rights and compassion for the traveling public’s integrity is a concept virtually inconsistent with both the mindset and the true objectives of the TSA and the US government.

In fact, one could convincingly argue that the whole TSA system seems designed to accomplish three objectives: (1) cause sustained humiliation to the class of traveling public until they become desensitized to the whole experience of abuse; (2) soften the public up for another round of enhanced government controls and acceptance of further loss of freedoms, and (3) confirm the establishment and widespread public acceptance of an ever expanding permanent police state that is now firmly in place.

When you understand the implications of our dilemma, this stuff is truly chilling! The TSA episode, like so many others in the new Police surveillance state, is not about security, it is about control and training compliance to the new world order.

The problem for those of us who are critical thinkers interested in personal rights is the predicted pattern of behavior of average family and business flyiers. Not wanting to cause a fuss, good natured, well-intentioned and thorougly misguided citizens will eventually cooperate with this insanity and deliver another round of victories to further enhance the powers of the central planners. Throughout history, this turn of events has many points of illustration and validation, ... just think of the Soviets, the Cambodians and an endless list of countless other examples of governments high on a wicked sense of their own nobilities.

kbp said...

An argument in court that the grope does not invade the privacy of the person may become a sound defense in future sexual molestation cases.

It either violates privacy or it does not.

John Washburn said...

To GerhardRP

The incident Dr. Anderson refers to was in 2008 at Corpus Cristi Airport. The article can be found here

The reason the court filing was within the last week is that she had to exhaust all "administrative remedies" with the TSA first.

John Washburn said...

On the lie: "Images are neither saved nor stored"

There is this FOIA-based rebuttal.

Not only are the images saved, stored, and sent over the court house network, the images are open records subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

John Washburn said...

I have to wonder if the true goal is the biometric information gathered. Given the TSA intransigence, the idea, "it's all about the biometrics" is looking less and less outrageous.

A sampling of this meme:
from August, 2010
from November, 2010
On the "better" scanners
Also on the "better" scanners
Jones on biometrics 1990's to Present

Anonymous said...

Th problem is not ideology but that hard news reporters are the laziest people in the entire world. Business reporters simply reword corporate PR without fact checking and government reporters do the same thing. The sports page has good writing because so many of the readers already know what happened. But if the facts aren't generally known, you will never get them first from a newspaper.

liberranter said...

Th problem is not ideology but that hard news reporters are the laziest people in the entire world.

Absolutely. It appears that, generally speaking, "journalism" majors (a field of study, BTW, that was non-existent before the dawn of the "Progressive Era") in today's colleges and universities are of the same caliber as "education" majors. That is, they represent the bottom of the academic barrel in terms of achievement and intellectual ability. But, in addition to that, there's also the bottom line of the media outlets for which they write or broadcast. Hard-hitting investigative journalism is a painstaking effort that demands not only intellectual curiosity and zeal on the part of the reporter, but resources and time. These cost the media outlets money, which of course detracts from the bottom line of the state-corporate fatcats who own them. No fools they, at least when it comes to their own wallets. They realize that hard-hitting investigative journalism is wasted on a nation populated by ADHD-addled sheep with the curiosity of paving gravel. Why not just dole out cheap, sensational, propaganda-filled headlines and sound bites? That's all the masses want anyway and is usually all the advertisers are willing to pay for (and you certainly don't want to alienate THEM with hard-hitting IJ that will no doubt caste many of them in a less-than-flattering light).

Simple fact: Hard-hitting investigative journalism is now the province of blogs like this one, written by non-professional journalists who 1) are experts, or at least well informed in the subjects on which they write; 2) have an actual stake in getting the truth exposed, and, 3) usually do so successfully at a cost in resources that are a fraction of that which would be expended by professional "journalists."

Proof positive that newspapers and television "news" reporting is a useless relic of a bygone age!

GerhardRP said...

Dr. Anderson,
I am not defending the TSA, so don't slam me.
I often follow your links and usually find your characterization of the underlying story impeccable. However, the link in the piece of your article I quoted refers to a serious overreaction by the Portland Oregon police, not the TSA. There was no breast exposure or laughing as there was in the Corpus Christie insident refered to by Mr. Washburn.
Kind regards,

Anonymous said...

Bill, as always, excellent! I know you could not put in all of the instances & a great deal of information out there, but you summed it up well.

I’m going to do this in 2 posts.

For all the sheeple, I would like to add a few things of interest. Let me say this first…..RESEARCH!!! It’s not hard & it’s not terribly time consuming. Do you think Bill has 72 hours in a day to look at both sides (which he does do)? No he doesn’t have more hours than the rest of us, but he does look into both sides.

Besides the horror stories I have read, I have also looked into the way a great deal of sheeple are looking at this. “It’s worth it to keep my plane from being blown out of the sky” is one of my personal favorites. “Since 9/11, it’s a necessary evil we must endure”, just another fave.

If you’re curious as to how many “planes have been blown out of the sky”, please do some research, if you’re still not knowledgeable of what happened on 9/11, please do some research & might I add, that I will pray for all of the folks that still don’t know.

Just to be nice, I will help a little. On that awful day on September 11, 2001, terrorists used AIRPLANES as WEAPONS to kill thousands of people. Yes, that is correct. They didn’t use bombs, guns or knives, they used the airplanes themselves. Huh, that’s interesting. We do know that approximately 4 or 5 got on board with box cutters, but would it have mattered? No it would not. The first three planes were used pretty quickly as weapons, the 4th is our key to know what happened. The many phone calls placed from that United flight were very telling. The terrorists TOLD the passengers they had bombs. No one ever saw a bomb because there weren‘t any. Also, the terrorists were very knowledgeable & trained on how to get into the cockpit without even having any kind of weapon. So basically, there was no stopping them once they were on board & used the fear tactic. As I learned in law school & what is taught in LE training, fear is a great weapon. You never have to see one to believe it’s there. By the way, this is also taught to bank employees. If someone says it, believe them. The people on the United flight knew what was going to happen & made the choice to take on the terrorists. They had information & time to do this. They are heroes & will always be in my life.

UGA Mom - Part one

Anonymous said...


This is where it gets hairy & scary. Our government is using the same fear tactic on us, the American people. Those of us who want to scream out, “WAIT, you are trampling on our rights & privacy!” are thought of to be anarchists & crap-stirrers. We are not those things, in fact, we are the complete opposite. We want America to be taken off the list as the laughing stock of the world. We want our country back. The TSA is a propaganda machine & is actually being taken on by the very people they say did research. (Please look into where the TSA said that Johns Hopkins research showed no threat of health danger, then find where the head of JH said they said no such thing) The truth is coming out. The real Americans are becoming angry. The airlines are becoming angry. Some in government are becoming angry. The anger will grow if people would research & educate themselves.

When & where will it stop? Our greatest risks for terrorist attacks are not with commercial airlines. We have lost the “war on terror”. We lost it the day any American said, “it’s a necessary evil”. They want us to be afraid & now, they get to laugh at us. We lose, they win.

Our risks come from our everyday lives. Our water supply, our power plants, our sporting events, carnivals, festivals, concerts……the list goes on & on.

The Lee Greenwood song comes to mind, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free”. Free? Not so much anymore Lee. The fact that I want to defend my country & our Constitution makes me “evil”. Oh well, I will take that tag & proudly wear it for I know the difference. So does Bill, KC, John, Doc, & I see a new person, William (excellent post), also many others out there.

We have to stand strong & regain our freedoms. Period!

UGA Mom - Part 2

Anonymous said...

links for my fellow true Americans!

Just some examples of what people are doing to show their distaste for the TSA.

Anonymous said...

After 5 gagillion interruptions, I finally was able to read your article on LRC. Kudos!


Victoria said...

I want to add a couple of points against TSA "security". If this was truly about security and not mere Kabuki theatre, then should they not also strip search all the employees who have access to the tarmac and the plane? Many people behind the scenes clean and stock the plane, load and access the cargo space and so forth. To molest and radiate passengers while allowing access to the plane on the tarmac while claiming the goal is security is ludicrous. Then one must truly wonder what the goal is in rendering travelers inconvenienced, humiliated, and sexually assaulted.

Do TSA supporters also favor pornoscanners and sexual assaults of all citizens at shopping malls, stadiums, supermarkets, schools, post offices, bridges, federal buildings, ....where do we stop?

Amanda said...

What aggravates me is that the searches the TSA is doing are actually more invasive than the ones I performed when we were taking a suspect into holding. I was the lone female officer -- reserve, but still the only female reserve or paid -- at a small, southern, police department, and as such any time we had a female prisoner, I was called in to do the search.

It was backs and sides of hands all the way, none of this palm of the hand garbage. And yes, one can a) tell if something is hidden just fine with the back and side of the hand, so b) my belief is that the use of the palms of the hands as by the TSA for these sensitive searches is for humiliation purposes only.

The TSA has perfectly acceptable alternatives to both the scanners and the custody* searches. They need to use them.

*note: I say "custody" searches because that's what they are -- these are as much pat-downs as a butcher knife slice is akin to a paper cut.

KC Sprayberry said...

Now, I'm probably fixin' to start a ruckus but one of my listservs posted this link to a YouTube video about TSA's grope techniques. Want a horrified laugh? Check it out.

A Duke Dad said...

What ever happened to :

"Did you pack the luggage yourself?
Has your luggage been out of your sight since it was packed?"

Without this vital step, now neglected, how can we be certain of having the security aboard aircraft that we once enjoyed?

Or, more precisely, what happened to that scene in the Kabuki play ?

Along with the bored National Guard troops at train and bus stations. There for appearance. No training, no capability - armed only with pistols.

Anonymous said...

Victoria, Amanda & Duke Dad, more well informed goodies.

And to think, just a couple days ago, a TSA officer in Atlanta kidnapped & raped a woman. Excellent screening process!

KC, I saw that the other day & laughed my butt off. There are a few other links, but I think I've posted my share. If you're on FB, join the Boycott Flying group. They put out information constantly. The guy running it reminds me of Bill. He's non-stop!

Everyone have blessed Thanksgiving!