TSA Misadventures Continue To Worsen

Another double whammy involving the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) brought the agency under fire this week as USA Today reported that the TSA plans to gather more traveler data are being protested by major airlines and travel agencies and KOMO-TV reported the disgraceful treatment endured by some Fort Lewis soldiers who were escorting the remains of a fallen comrade home to Virginia.

Major airlines and travel agencies are protesting a governmental proposal to start collecting birth dates, full names and genders of people reserving airline flights saying it would be invasive, confusing and useless. The TSA wants passengers to give the additional personal information so it can do more precise background checks saying it will result in fewer of the 700 million travelers who fly commercially each year in the USA being mistaken for terrorists.

The airlines say passengers are going to resist providing more details and that it will be a time-consuming process. United Airlines wrote the TSA saying that asking for a passenger’s birth date and gender would create a new level of complications for completing air reservations and that seeking useless data carries an unacceptably high price tag.

The Air Transport Association, the American Society of Travel Agents, Continental and Virgin airlines have also written the TSA opposing asking travelers for their birth dates and genders. The opposition for soliciting full names is not as strong. Only a last name and first initial are currently provided by travelers.

Transfer Required By Law Enacted In 2004

The plan is centered on transferring checking passenger backgrounds from airlines to the TSA. The transfer is required by a law that was enacted in 2004 and urged by the 9/11 Commission that year.

According to the commission, the TSA can do a better job because it can check passengers against the complete government terrorist watch lists (yes, that’s lists, not list) instead of partial lists used by airlines. Despite the expectation that the TSA will take over background checks next year, many airlines claim they don’t have enough time to change their reservation systems and enable the switch.

A TSA proposal published in August would require travel agents to ask people reserving flights for their birth date, gender and full names. Interestingly enough however, travelers would not be required to give them the information.

People who don’t comply could be more easily mistaken as terrorists, and according to what the TSA wrote, may be more likely to experience delays, subjected to additional screening or be denied transport.

Soldiers Treated Atrociously by TSA

Ken Schram from KOMO-TV in Seattle, Washington reports on the “atrocious treatment” — quite appropriately deemed in my opinion — that was endured by some Fort Lewis soldiers escorting the remains of a fallen comrade home to Virginia.

An honor guard had been formed on the tarmac by Port of Seattle Police, airport fire and rescue and military personnel as the soldier’s body was placed on the plane.

The soldiers were than taken upstairs by a police officer where the TSA screener checked everyone’s ID, including the police officer, then had the soldiers wearing combat ribbons and medals go through the metal detectors. Naturally, that ribbons and medals set off the alarms on the metal detectors.

From the article: “So what does the TSA screener do? He has the soldiers strip off their uniforms – in front of everyone – down to their tee shirts, pants and socks. Will someone please tell me what the hell is wrong with these people? How does some inept, insensitive idiot with the IQ of room temperature even get a TSA job? That TSA screener should have his ass fired. And those soldiers deserve at least an apology.” Actually, those soldiers deserve a lot more than that, not to mention a lot better than that.

Depending on how much you value your privacy, and considering the incompetent leadership of most federal agencies as well as the inept handling of your personal information from these federal agencies and all the data they’ve lost in the past, not to mention the complete disregard for the law, it will be interesting to see what gets bungled up this time. This FUBAR of a nightmare has gone on entirely too long as it is.

The TSA’s history of ineptitude and different rules for different airports, not to mention all the confusion created by travelers whose names appear on the different lists despite receiving letters saying they have been removed, you can be sure this will cause even more ineptitude for the TSA, which is run by the dysfunctional Department of Homeland Security.

As for the 9/11 Commission, when the government investigates itself, something will always be intentionally overlooked or hidden from prying eyes to protect all the incompetent idiots that ‘lead this country’ and all the illegal actions performed against the public, especially along the lines of fighting ‘the global war on terror.’ Take for instance, H.R. 1955 which is yet another delusional way to try and criminalize thoughts, blogs, books and free speech — also known as the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act — worded in such a way that it will inevitably be used to cover up more illegal activities and protect the fraudulent behinds of our ‘elected’ officials. You can take the commissions words and recommendations for what they’re worth, which most likely isn’t much.

Links to More Information

Links to the information above as well as a lot more can be found below:

TSA plan to gather more data protested article from USA Today

Ken Schram: Someone should be fired article from KOMO-TV – Seattle, Washington News

Senate Bill 1959 to Criminalize Thoughts, Blogs, Books and Free Speech Across America article from News Target

H.R. 1955 information from The Library of Congress

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act article from The Huffington Post:

“There has been a long tradition of fear-mongering legislation in the United States directed against groups and individuals believed to threaten the established order. The first such measures were the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by Congress in 1798 during the administration of the second president of the United States John Adams. The Acts, consisting of four separate laws, made it more difficult to become a citizen, sought to control real or imagined foreign agents operating in the United States, and also gave the government broad powers to control “sedition.” Sedition was defined as “resisting any law of the United States or any act of the President” punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years. It also made illegal “false, scandalous or malicious writing” directed against either the government or government officials. The next President, Thomas Jefferson declared that three out of the four laws were unconstitutional and pardoned everyone who had been convicted under them.

The view that 9/11 has “changed everything” is unfortunately all too true. It has unleashed American paranoia, institutionalized mistrust of foreigners, and created a fantasy universe in which a US beset by enemies must do anything and everything to counter the alien threat. If it were a sane world, it would be difficult to imagine why anyone would believe that a Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act is even necessary. The United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars in strengthening law enforcement and intelligence capabilities against terrorists and has every tool imaginable to investigate and make arrests. It has created a whole new bloated and dysfunctional branch of government in the Department of Homeland Security. What is not needed is groups of congressionally empowered vigilantes roaming the country at will looking for “homegrown terrorism.”

Congress’ “anti-extremist” bill targets online thoughtcrime article from CNET News

US plans to ‘fight the net’ revealed article from The BBC News:

The BBC News is reporting on information obtained from a newly declassified document revealing glimpses into the U.S. Military’s plans for “Information Operations” — revealing information from psychological operations to attacks on hostile computer networks — also potentially revealing more information for the argument that former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and his bosses may actually be certifiable.

More lies are being spread as propaganda by the military now as well as the usual BS from The White House.

America Heads for the Trash Can of History article from OpEdNews:

“In new books writers as disparate as Naomi Wolf and Pat Buchanan conclude that America as we know her is disappearing. Both writers hope, but are not confident, that enough Americans will catch on in time to find the leadership to pull America back from the brink.

If polls are reliable, a majority of Americans are dissatisfied with President Bush and Congress. However, Americans are far short of Wolf and Buchanan’s grasp of our peril.

Americans are unable to connect their dissatisfaction with the current political leadership with their choice of new leaders. All polls show that Hillary Clinton is far in the lead for the Democratic presidential nomination and Rudy Giuliani is far in the lead for the Republican nomination These are the only two candidates guaranteed to be worse than Bush/Cheney.

Both Hillary and Rudy are committed to the war. Both refuse to rule out expanding the war to Iran and beyond. Both are totally in the pocket of the Israel Lobby. Indeed, practically every Giuliani advisor is a member of the Lobby. Both defend the police state measures that “protect us from terrorism.” And neither gives a hoot for the US Constitution and the civil liberties it guarantees. The Republican Giuliani is likely to overturn the Second Amendment even quicker than the Democrat Hillary.”

Nafty business: “Super Corridor” will pave over the heart of America article from The Smirking Chimp:

“While the cat has been away in Iraq, the mice have been at play here in the United States. More like rats than mice, actually, they’ve set up one of the worst traps in American history. And we are all about to drive right into it.

The latest rat trap goes by the vaguely pornographic name Interstate 69. I-69 is a massive superhighway that already extends from Ontario to Indianapolis (through Michigan), with plans to resume construction next spring and push through southern Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, where it will connect with the highways of the Plan Puebla Panama in Mexico. Meanwhile, another part of this “Super Corridor” called Interstate 35 has been expanding from Winnipeg to Mexico, through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Texas.

All this asphalt – pollution, impervious surface, drained wetlands, traffic, and so on – is courtesy NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. I-69 and I-35 will be the major artery of globalization in the Americas – an aorta through our heartland four football fields-wide. The road has already gobbled up hundreds of thousands of acres of undeveloped, pristine habitat, and displaced families through eminent domain “takings.” When it’s completed, it will profoundly reshape the Americas, gutting regions and, in Central America, cultures, while leading to more dam projects, clear cutting of forests, etc. In addition, this “corridor” will require $2 billion per year of public funds for “infrastructure improvements.”

The push for Interstates 69 and 35 has been brutal, driven by the greed of a few corporations that cowed Congress into funding this boondoggle while also destroying Amtrak and bleeding our railroads and public transportation projects dry. However, it would be unfair to call this “capitalism.” The money used to build it is public; thus, it would be closer to the truth to equate this to a Soviet “Five Year Plan.” And it would not be too far off the mark to describe America’s current political system as a totalitarian corporate state. You may not like the cold-bloodedness of this language, but to call it anything else is playing the semantic spin game that Bush and Cheney have learned so well (Clear Skies Initiative for “gut air pollution regulations,” Operation Enduring Freedom for “invade another country and steal their oil,” etc.).”

China Explains Decision to Block U.S. Ships article from The New York Times:

“BEIJING, Nov. 29 – China denied permission for a United States aircraft carrier battle group and other American warships to visit Hong Kong last week because of the Bush administration’s proposal to sell upgrades to Patriot antimissile batteries to Taiwan, Chinese state media said today.

Beijing also said today that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi had not told President Bush in a meeting Wednesday that the decisions to deny the ship visits were a “misunderstanding,” as the White House had reported after the talks.

“Reports that Foreign Minister Yang said in the United States that it was a misunderstanding do not accord with the facts,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said in Beijing today, adding that China had “grave concern” over United States weapons sales to Taiwan.

Mr. Liu said that Mr. Bush’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in Washington in October had also damaged ties between the two countries.”

Yes, I told you so article from The Power of Narrative Blogspot:

A worrisome, informative read about why Congress will not impeach Bush or Cheney — because it would implicate most if not all of them since they’re just as guilty as the White House — though it doesn’t mention how the ‘Supreme Court’ is just as guilty since they gave the presidency away in 2000:

“Ah, but the Democrats will investigate the Bush administration’s endless crimes. The investigations will restore honesty, decency and “true” American values to government. All the universes will be saved!

Do people actually believe this nonsense? All such investigations will be exactly like all other government investigations of itself. People seem congenitally incapable of grasping that all politicians are now part of the same corrupt system, which aims only to protect itself and its existing prerogatives, as it simultaneously seeks to expand them. (The exceptions in the political class are so few that they don’t matter.)

In the end, all such investigations and committee hearings will conclude just as the 9/11 investigation concluded (and any other investigation you care to name): some criticisms will be made, general fault will be found but no one in particular will be condemned in terms that might cause distress, and some new guidelines and regulations will be proposed and enacted. Neither party wants to judge the other too harshly or cause irreparable harm: they don’t want to, because they count on the same consideration in return.

Both parties are happy to accede to this deal, for it is precisely how their system continues on its merry course, guaranteeing their lives of immense comfort and privilege, together with their hold on power. Many of the rest of us, both here and abroad, will be screwed, maimed or dead — and just when exactly did that concern the governing class?”

Naomi Wolf: America’s Fascist Coup Owes Legacy To Bush’s Nazi Grandfather article from Prison Planet

Time tries again article from Salon News:

More on the blatant lies ‘reported’ by Time Magazine regarding Democrats and FISA.

Impeach Cheney, Bush and Pelosi article from AfterDowningStreet.org:

“As has been consistently reported by the real American news media, the Internet, a vast majority of Americans want the war in Iraq ended, and also want Cheney, the real head of the Executive Branch, along with his puppet, George W. Bush, impeached. It is the belief of this writer that no president in American history is not only more disliked, but is actually more hated by the majority of Americans. The lies that got US into a war of invasion and mass murder of innocent, unarmed people perpetrated under the guise of “bringing them freedom and democracy” is the cruelest of absurdities, and totally un-American.

Our so-called two-party system has always been touted as a naturally evolved complimentary political support system that enhances our constitutionally limited republican form of government thereby ensuring the individual freedoms of each and every American citizen. The Cheney-Bush regime clearly underscores the fallacy and absurdity of this continuing mainstream media hype. A year ago, voters, including Republicans, handed Democrats a card blanche authorization in the interim elections voicing this nation’s desires to end the war in Iraq, to impeach Cheney-Bush, and to block these lunatics from initiating World War III by invading Iran. The resultant non-action is testimony to the farce of the “two party system.”

The chief obstruction in Congress has been House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. As far as this writer is concerned, her treason is much greater than that of Cheney-Bush. For it is Pelosi, and only Pelosi, who enjoys the most powerful position in American government, a power which solely enables her to remove these proven criminals from office. Remembering and considering the lies, falsehoods and propaganda, now all proven as such as generated by the criminals in the Bush White House, and employed to enrage the American people into believing that vengeance could be delivered to the doorstep of those who planned and perpetrated 9/11. Bush, in a post Iraq press interview answering a reporter’s query as to what Saddam and Iraq had to do with 9/11, replied, “Nothing!” Then why are we there? Why are we still there?”

Nixon papers suggest Israel stole nuclear materials from U.S. in 1965 article from WakeUpFromYourSlumber.com

NOW: Rigging the Debates article from PBS:

“NOW WITH BILL MOYERS exposes the truth behind the Presidential debates, detailing how they’ve been hijacked by the two main political parties. Before you watch the debates this week, be prepared-watch this excerpt from NOW, the show the press had called, “one of the last bastions of serious journalism on TV.” If you care about your democracy, you’ll be blown away.”

Bush’s Next Preemptive Strike article from The Washington Post

Oh Rudy, Don’t Take Your Love to Town…article and video from FireDogLake

Fraud, intimidation and bribery as Putin prepares for victory article from The Guardian Unlimited UK:

“State workers forced to vote in effort to rig result for president.

The Kremlin is planning to rig the results of Russia’s parliamentary elections on Sunday by forcing millions of public sector workers across the country to vote, the Guardian has learned.

Local administration officials have called in thousands of staff on their day off in an attempt to engineer a massive and inflated victory for President Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party. Voters are being pressured to vote for United Russia or risk losing their jobs, their accommodation or bonuses, the Guardian has been told in numerous interviews with byudzhetniki (public sector workers), students and ordinary citizens.”

Citing statistics, Giuliani misses time and again article from MSNBC News and The New York Times:

“Both Romney, Dems have accused Republican of using misleading figures.

In almost every appearance as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Rudolph W. Giuliani cites a fusillade of statistics and facts to make his arguments about his successes in running New York City and the merits of his views.

Discussing his crime-fighting success as mayor, Mr. Giuliani told a television interviewer that New York was “the only city in America that has reduced crime every single year since 1994.” In New Hampshire this week, he told a public forum that when he became mayor in 1994, New York “had been averaging like 1,800, 1,900 murders for almost 30 years.” When a recent Republican debate turned to the question of fiscal responsibility, he boasted that “under me, spending went down by 7 percent.”

All of these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong. And while, to be sure, all candidates use misleading statistics from time to time, Mr. Giuliani has made statistics a central part of his candidacy as he campaigns on his record.”

Bogus FEMA ‘reporters’ promoted despite role in fake press conference article from The Raw Story:

This should come as a shock to no one:

“Two FEMA public relations staffers who posed as reporters during a staged news conference about the California wildfires last month no longer have their jobs — but only because the disaster management agency has promoted them to better ones.

Despite their participation in the bogus presser, FEMA’s former deputy director of public affairs, Cindy Taylor, and another employee, Mike Widomski, are both receiving the promotions they were earlier promised, Washington Post columnist Al Kamen reports.

“On Oct. 23, the day of FEMA’s now infamous phony news conference, the agency’s former external affairs chief, Pat Philbin, announced plans to promote a number of people in the shop as part of an effort to build a ‘new FEMA,'” writes Kamen, who originally broke the news about the fake press event. Kamen cites an email from Philbin stating that Taylor was to be tapped to head the organization’s Private Sector Office, and Widomski would be bumped up to assume Taylor’s former position.”

Putin plans to rig parliamentary elections, newspapers say article from The Raw Story:

I wonder where he may have learned that trick:

“In perhaps the strongest rebuke to date of the government of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, two newspapers Friday accused Putin of rigging parliamentary elections, one of them explicitly.

“The Kremlin is planning to rig the results of Russia’s parliamentary elections on Sunday by forcing millions of public sector workers across the country to vote,” the British Guardian newspaper said.

“Local administration officials have called in thousands of staff on their day off in an attempt to engineer a massive and inflated victory for President Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party,” write Luke Harding and Tom Parfitt in Moscow. “Voters are being pressured to vote for United Russia or risk losing their jobs, their accommodation or bonuses, the Guardian has been told in numerous interviews with byudzhetniki (public sector workers), students and ordinary citizens.”

Card Rejects Rove’s claim That Congress Pushed Bush To War: ‘His Mouth Gets Ahead of His Brain’ article and video from Think Progress:

“Karl Rove asserted on the Charlie Rose show recently that it was Congress that pushed the Bush administration into war with Iraq. “The administration was opposed” to voting for a war resolution in the fall of 2002, Rove claimed. “It seemed it make things move too fast,” he argued.

As ThinkProgress documented, key leaders in both the House and the Senate – including then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) – were asking Bush in 2002 to delay the Iraq war vote. But as Daschle recalled, when he asked Bush to delay the vote, Bush “looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: ‘We just have to do this now.'”

This morning, former White House chief of staff at the time, Andrew Card, appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and completely discredited Rove’s argument:”

Rules of Engagement: Cowardice Codified article from OpEdNews:

“The bravest soldier becomes a coward when he follows an order to shoot unarmed people. The slaughter reported in this week’s news of people on a Baghdad bus that didn’t stop for soldiers at a roadblock is a case in point.

The rule in such a case is to shoot first and ask questions later. They call it a “rule of engagement” but there’s no romance in it. We’re talking about the engagement of hostile forces. Except that we’re not. A bus driver who misinterprets a signal from foreign soldiers at a checkpoint can hardly be said to have engaged the soldiers, and that’s what happened here. “Engagement” suggests a contact that both parties are aware of. An assault on an unwitting or escaping victim is not an engagement.”

Tom Cruise Had Spielberg’s Family Doctor Picketed By Scientologists article from The Huffington Post

Dream? On. article from The Washington Post:

It’s nice to see a story with a happy ending for a change:

“Readers Respond to Plight of Woman Who Missed Cruise.”

The NYT’s Michael Cooper demonstrates what real reporting is article from Salon News:

“In an online chat yesterday, The Washington Post’s Lois Romano defended her newspaper’s neutral stenographic coverage of the factually false right-wing smear campaign against Barack Obama, a whispering campaign alleging that Obama “is a Muslim, ‘a ‘Muslim plant’ in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran”. Romano’s defense:

We are getting many questions of our story on Obama today. I’ll try to address this as best I can. These are always very difficult decisions — how to address something that people are talking about, that has clearly become a factor in the race, without taking a position. Part of our job is to acknowledge that there is a discussion going on and to fact check and lay out the facts. The Internet has complicated this responsibility because there is so much garbage and falsehoods out there.

This discussion has reached a high pitch on the Internet and our editors decided it was in the readers interest to address it. I have heard people say that they won’t support Sen. Obama because they read he doesn’t put is hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. He has denied this — so airing some of this and giving him a chance to deny its accuracy could be viewed as setting the record straight.

That is self-evidently absurd. “Setting the record straight” would mean having the reporter report the facts and identify the false statements as false. But the Post did the opposite; it simply passed on each side’s “views” without comment — the factually true side and the factually false side — as though they merited equal weight.”

Witness Names to Be Withheld From Detainee article from The New York Times:

Nothing like justice! Another bad example of your tax dollars hard at work providing complete idiocy of delusional dictatorship disguised as democracy gone over the edge to protect their crimes:

“Defense lawyers preparing for the war crimes trial of a 21-year-old Guantánamo detainee have been ordered by a military judge not to tell their client — or anyone else — the identity of witnesses against him, newly released documents show.

The case of the detainee, Omar Ahmed Khadr, is being closely watched because it may be the first Guantánamo prosecution to go to trial, perhaps as soon as May.

Defense lawyers say military prosecutors have sought similar orders to keep the names of witnesses secret in other military commission cases, which have been a centerpiece of the Bush administration’s policies for detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Some legal experts and defense lawyers said the judge’s order, issued on Oct. 15 without public disclosure, underscored the gap between military commission procedures and traditional American rules that the accused has a right to a public trial and to confront the witnesses against him.”

Rice ‘Planted’ Question With ‘Friendly Journalist’ To ‘Help Erase’ Pre-Iraq War Legacy article and video from Think Progress:

“In 2003, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice helped push America into war with Iraq. She disregarded at least two CIA memos and a personal phone call from CIA Director George Tenet stating that the evidence behind Iraq’s uranium acquisition was weak. She infamously said, “[W]e don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

In an interview with C-SPAN’s Washington Journal today, Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler, author of Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy, revealed that after President Bush promoted her to Secretary of State, Rice mounted a “public relations” campaign to distance herself from the pre-war fiasco.

As part of this PR campaign, she directed an aide to “plant a question” asking if she would run for President, in order to help “negate American memories of her very direct role” in invading Iraq:

In October, it was revealed that FEMA clumsily staged a “fake” press conference where agency employees posed as journalists. Condi, however, has fake press conferences down to a fine art.”

More Bushie Ineptitude article from Crooks and Liars:

“Does anybody have a scorecard of how many Bush appointees whose understanding of how to do their job was actually the exact opposite of what everyone else understood their job to be?

Let’s add another name to the wall of shame: Julie MacDonald.

Wired:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday reversed seven rulings that denied endangered species increased protection, after an investigation found the actions were tainted by political pressure from a former senior Interior Department official.[..]

The rulings came under scrutiny last spring after an Interior Department inspector general concluded that agency scientists were being pressured to alter their findings on endangered species by Julie MacDonald, then a deputy assistant secretary overseeing the Fish and Wildlife Service.

MacDonald resigned her position last May.”

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