Obama Mash-up: Don’t Touch My Junk

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On a more serious front, read Dana Milbank’s logic knock on the heads of a few leading allegedly fiscally conservative Republicans who have been pining for the level of security that Israel applies at its airports. Milbank stings them with the hard dollar reality that what they want would cost more than $40 billion a year:

“What the Israelis do – and I’ve flown on El Al about a dozen times to Israel – what they do is the way it ought to be done,” says likely Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
“I traveled to Israel, and I tell you what,” says Tea Party darling Allen West, congressman-elect from Florida. “They have very good procedures and you don’t have to go through all of these very draconian practices.”
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), making the rounds of cable TV, says the federal government “flubbed the dub” because “they didn’t take the Israeli model.” Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Tea Party godfather, praised the “Israeli model” during a Senate hearing, and Fox News’s Sean Hannity proclaimed: “We have a paradigm, a model that is enormously successful, and that’s Israel.”
The Israeli model for airport screening has, without a doubt, been successful. But do these guys have any idea what they are proposing? Replicating the Israeli model in the United States would easily cost $40 billion a year – and possibly many times that. That would wind up being more expensive than supposed big-government boondoggles such as the Troubled Assets Relief Program and the auto bailout, and it would wipe out Republican promises to cut spending.

Milbank also cites Foreign Policy‘s Annie Lowrey who calculated that “if each passenger flying through a U.S. airport were subjected to 10 minutes of questioning by a guard, we would need 3 million full-time guards, at a cost of more than $150 billion a year.”
And as Harvard scholar and Foreign Policy blogger Stephen Walt wrote to me this morning:

Am I the only person who sees the irony in the recommendation that the US adopt the Israeli approach to airline security? The proper question to ask is: why do we suddenly need greater airport security?
Could it be because we’ve gradually adopted Israel’s approach to the Middle East too?

— Steve Clemons

Comments

63 comments on “Obama Mash-up: Don’t Touch My Junk

  1. replice vertu says:

    “Fact is, I am not a security expert such that I can say if Milbank’s numbers are in the ballpark or not. ” (questions)
    And you think Milbank is? Touching faith.

    Reply

  2. replice vertu phone says:

    “Fact is, I am not a security expert such that I can say if Milbank’s numbers are in the ballpark or not. ” (questions)
    And you think Milbank is? Touching faith.

    Reply

  3. replice cell phone says:

    “Fact is, I am not a security expert such that I can say if Milbank’s numbers are in the ballpark or not. ” (questions)
    And you think Milbank is? Touching faith.

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    “Fact is, I am not a security expert such that I can say if Milbank’s numbers are in the ballpark or not. ” (questions)
    And you think Milbank is? Touching faith.

    Reply

  5. Don Bacon says:

    “Why do they bother??? ”
    Gotta keep the paperwork current.
    The AUMF has become outdated, and some want to update it. One proponent is John Bellinger who wrote in a WaPo Op-Ed (the Washington Post does its part in keeping the fascist paperwork current):
    “Nearly 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Obama administration, congressional Republicans and Democrats, and civil liberties groups all have an interest in updating this aging legislation. Republicans should be willing to help the president ensure that combatant commanders and intelligence agencies have ample legal authority to kill or capture terrorists who threaten the United States today. Many Republicans also want to give clearer statutory direction to federal judges regarding who may be detained and for how long. For their part, civil liberties groups and their Democratic supporters in Congress can insist that terrorist suspects who are U.S. nationals receive additional protections before being targeted and that persons detained now or in the future under the laws of war have a right to adequate administrative or judicial review.”
    Bellinger is a partner at Arnold & Porter and an adjunct senior fellow in international and national security law at the Council on Foreign Relations.
    http://tinyurl.com/24xl3kh
    **combatant commanders and intelligence agencies have ample legal authority to kill or capture terrorists**
    (a terrorist is by definition anyone, US or foreign, killed or captured)
    **who may be detained and for how long. . terrorist suspects who are U.S. nationals**
    (a terrorist suspect is by definition anyone detained)

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Reading the FBI

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  7. Don Bacon says:

    from FDL:
    FBI Blocked Mohamud

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  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I sure ‘hope’ the US doesn’t run out of teenagers for industrious terror-warfare adults to influence in their various ways. It’s one of the more sordid aspects of the war on terror, if you ask me, when one considers what teenagers ought to be doing instead”
    Well, perhaps, again, we should follow the Israeli model, and recruit teens to participate in evicting Americans whose homes have been foreclosed on. It wouldn’t instill the racist hatred that Israel so carefully nurtures in its youth, but at least it would instill the callous lack of concern for the human condition that prepares such youth for an adulthood of incinerating, shooting, inslaving, and torturing their fellows.
    “My buddy had a wolf-whistle tacked onto his car’s intake manifold that . .”
    I never understood that. I found a Volkswagen van with a mattress in the back returned far greater results.

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  9. questions says:

    nadine,
    Fact is, I am not a security expert such that I can say if Milbank’s numbers are in the ballpark or not. There was a commenter who detailed the Israeli system from computerized checks of passport and gov’t lists at ticket-booking time, and the greeters in the airports who make eye contact and ask what you’re doing, and the more detailed pokes and peaks that come when somebody ends up on a list. So all are gazed upon, some are scrutinized, and some are dissected….
    What would this take in the US? Our computer systems are stymied by spelling algorithms, our TSA agents aren’t unionized and are paid starting at 17 grand a year (the Republicans DEMANDED this when the TSA was formed), our airport system is vast and processes huge huge huge numbers of people from LAX and O’Hare and La Guardia and National to teensy itsy bitsy regional airports far from anywhere at all. We are vast. Security is hard. The airlines are private corps that need to make money to please their shareholders. There are many libertarians, left wingers, and people who like the Constitution well enough such that the various violations of the 4th Amendment feel a little odd.
    It’s hard to know if the scanners or feelies will really deter anything at all. The theater aspect does seem to be a part of it all.
    So I really don’t know what makes sense to do in all of this.
    I’m as horrified as any by the anecdotes of people whose leg braces, prosthetic breasts, urostomies, and the like are profoundly disrupted. I’m not thrilled with putting little things into little bags for inspection. I don’t love the pat downs. If I’m convinced that there’s real security to be gained, I’m willing to cope as needed.
    I’m just not sure what’s what with the security system we have. It’s uneven, unevenly enforced, poorly compensated, bottlenecking, reactive rather than proactive, and a little silly. It also has to do the impossible — make us 100% safe.
    Who knows what the right thing to do is.
    My guess is that building in a bunch of meaningless choices would go a long way to helping people deal with the system.
    Getting the airlines to increase checked baggage allowances and baggage handling perfection, and to decrease the amount of carry on crap would probably help.
    Whatever dumbfuck idiot it was came up with the charge for checked bags is a dumbfuck idiot. What a bad bad bad incentive.
    Bar coding should be replaced with RFID tagging, and the bags should mostly go out on earlier flights when possible so that they are there waiting for you when you get to the airport — OR there should be far more baggage workers so that it only takes a few minutes to move all the shit people travel with.
    We want to do it all on the cheap, and maybe for security we should try instead to do it well.

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  10. Don Bacon says:

    The army and marines take US teenagers, turn them into dedicated Muslim killers and then we call the results patriots. The FBI spends how many man-years turning one teenager into a bomber thus setting him up for a lifetime in prison and we call the result a terrorist. (Results vary.)
    I sure ‘hope’ the US doesn’t run out of teenagers for industrious terror-warfare adults to influence in their various ways. It’s one of the more sordid aspects of the war on terror, if you ask me, when one considers what teenagers ought to be doing instead.
    Like driving fast cars, copping six-packs and picking up girls, stuff like that. My buddy had a wolf-whistle tacked onto his car’s intake manifold that . . .there I go again.

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  11. nadine says:

    questions, Milbank’s numbers are not serious, they are just straight extrapolations designed to arrive at a very big number. Obviously the nature of the problem is not the same in the US as in Israel. Equally obviously, a security system that is actually designed to look for terrorists is going to be more effective and cheaper than a security theater system designed to hassle everybody.
    As for the kid wannabe bomber, how far along depends on who and what his foreign contact knew. If the kid was a fundie militia-type instead of a jihadi, I doubt you’d have as much sympathy for somebody who was clearly dead serious in his intentions to blow up a lot of innocent people.

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  12. questions says:

    Milbank, back of the envelope calculations:
    “El Al, Israel’s national carrier, reported spending $107,828,000 on security in 2009 for the 1.9 million passengers it carried. That works out to about $56.75 per passenger. The United States, by contrast, spent $5.33 billion on aviation security in fiscal 2010, and the air travel system handled 769.6 million passengers in 2009 (a low year), according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That amounts to $6.93 per passenger.
    The analogy isn’t perfect, because security is largely handled by the airline in Israel and by the government here. (In both countries, the government pays just under two-thirds of the security costs.) But this rough comparison indicates that Israel spends more than eight times as much on security per passenger. To duplicate that, the United States would need to spend an extra $38 billion a year.
    And that might understate the cost of staffing the nation’s sprawling air travel system with highly skilled interrogators; Israel, after all, has only one major airport. In Foreign Policy magazine, Annie Lowrey calculated early this year that if each passenger flying through a U.S. airport were subjected to 10 minutes of questioning by a guard, we would need 3 million full-time guards, at a cost of more than $150 billion a year. ”
    ***********
    I wonder if we introduce a few more choice points in the security system — you can opt in to your favorite security line — you have to go through one of them —
    skin tight body suits
    pat downs of the very personal kind
    x-rays
    interview with actual El Al personnel (maybe in Hebrew, even)
    computerized background check
    no carry ons or checked bags
    …..
    There could be security kiosks for each one of these, or they could be combined in some way.
    We like choice, we hate force, we love security, we hate invasiveness, we need some combination of security and privacy and choice and revealing, freedom and constraint….

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  13. questions says:

    nadine,
    the problem with what you have above is that there’s clearly a fantasy this guy has regarding exploding, but it’s just fantasy, not action, until the FBI gets involved.
    It’s honestly hard to discern how much the FBI creates in this situation and how much it merely responds.
    People have destructive fantasies of all sorts. Some of those people take teeny steps along the way towards actualization. Most stop pretty quickly.
    Only a very very few actualize. What the FBI seems to do is to track those people who take teensy steps and it encourages them to take more steps.
    Remember Pape’s whole discussion of trans-national suicide terrorism — it’s the group pressure, the isolation, the encouragement and spiraling of the group, that pushes it forward. So the FBI itself becomes the group that encourages the cutting off and the training and the exploding.
    The experimenters are part of the experiment and we honestly cannot discern the boundaries.
    It’s worrisome at some level I don’t quite fathom.
    Most people cannot be encouraged to explode. Some people can. When the FBI is the encourager, what are we?

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  14. nadine says:

    No, Don, it’s you who are misinformed. Read this:
    “The FBI monitored Mohamud’s e-mail and found he was in contact with people overseas, asking how he could travel to Pakistan and join the fight for jihad, according to an FBI affidavit.
    The law enforcement official said Mohamud e-mailed a friend living in Pakistan who had been a student in Oregon in 2007-2008 and been in Yemen as well.
    The e-mail exchanges led the FBI to believe that Mohamud’s friend in Pakistan “had joined others involved in terrorist activities” and was inviting Mohamud to join him, according to the affidavit….
    Mohamud told the FBI he wanted to earn money fishing and then travel to join “the brothers.” He said he had previously hoped to travel to Yemen but had never obtained a ticket or a visa.
    On June 23, an agent e-mailed Mohamud, pretending to be affiliated with the “unindicted associate.”
    The FBI’s affidavit said the friend in Pakistan referred him to another associate, but gave him an address Mohamud repeatedly tried e-mailing unsuccessfully. The official said FBI agents saw that as an opportunity and e-mailed in response, claiming to be associates of Mohamud’s friend, the former student. ”
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_portland_car_bomb_plot;_ylt=AlQyngmhLpPs8M.mcq.u6MGs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNwZnRpOWVxBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAxMTI3L3VzX3BvcnRsYW5kX2Nhcl9ib21iX3Bsb3QEY2NvZGUDbW9zdHBvcHVsYXIEY3BvcwMxBHBvcwMyBHB0A2hvbWVfY29rZQRzZWMDeW5fdG9wX3N0b3J5BHNsawN

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  15. Don Bacon says:

    nadine, you’re misinformed, again. The only terrorist contacts the kid had or would ever have were in the FBI.

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  16. nadine says:

    Oh, look, Hosni Mubarak (to whom we supply $3 Billion a year) has just told Obama to sod off and don’t bother him about the Egyptian elections.
    Surely, we can expect Steve Clemons to title a post “Egyptian Presidents Love Sport of Controlling US”, right, Wigwag? I mean, any year now.
    “The Egyptian government has publicly rejected U.S. demands

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  17. nadine says:

    “The FBI has set up, er, caught, another dangerous teen-age terrorist.” (Don Bacon)
    So next time, should the FBI wait until the teen-ager gets real explosives from his terrorist contacts? who were real overseas terrorists, according to the FBI. This kid wasn’t just talking, he was looking to go boom!

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    “There is nothing wrong with profiling by behavior, Nadine; in fact the TSA already trains its officers to do it. The idea that profiling by behavior is controversial is a canard; hardly anyone objects to the idea of carefully scrutinizing air travelers who are behaving in a manner that most normal people (or highly trained professionals) would consider suspicious.” (Wigwag)
    Well, obviously the TSA is NOT strip-searching toddlers and grandmothers as part of a behavioral profiling program. They are too busy checking normal traveler’s shampoo and underwear to do much profiling.
    “The positions taken by members of the left and the right are equivalent; race or ethnicity can be determinative as long as the goal is something that the left or the right believes in.”
    Not at all; it’s you who have fallen into the leftist trap of insisting on equality of result instead of equality of opportunity.
    Experienced professional cops don’t check out young black men just for their skin color; they check them out when they fit the profile of known gangbangers, as they do white, hispanic and asian young men. It is the Left who demands that the cops forget the known facts about the percentage of blacks in the criminal population, and bring up spurious charges of racism if the cops correctly identify a disproportionate number of black vs white gangbangers.
    The right doesn’t want anybody picked out for race, neither for benefit nor insult. The right just wants the cops to be able to use what they know to find the real criminals.
    We went through this a few years back during the Bratton era of policing in the New York, the one that wound up dropping the crime rate by 70%. Leftists were outraged that black young men were being hassled on the street. They didn’t care if they were career criminals who mostly preyed on their fellow blacks.

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  19. nadine says:

    “Well, obviously, replacing a scan of all passengers with a selective investigation of nervous, twitchy, signal-emitting people is no way to secure air travel. I think anyone attempting to carry out a terrorist attack who has received even a minimal amount of training is unlikely to exhibit obvious behavioral tells.” (Dan Kervick)
    The security experts who have actually caught terrorists say differently. They say very few are cool and collected and coherent when being questioned. Remember the guy who was caught at the Canadian border with explosives he intended to use at LAX? The security guard there was not even on high alert, the guy just tipped her off by his behavior.

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  20. Don Bacon says:

    Okay, time to lighten up.
    According to a new study, legalizing marijuana would sharply drive the price down and wipe out any tax windfall. Although to be accurate, the study has a margin of error of +/- Willie Nelson.
    Willie Nelson and his band smoke so much dope,they now officially travel in a cannabus.
    Reports are saying that a San Diego drug tunnel had a railcar and tons of pot. It bore a striking resemblance to Willie Nelson’s tour bus.
    Country singer Willie Nelson was issued a misdemeanor citation after marijuana was found in his tour bus on Monday. In other shocking news, ice cream was found in Roseanne Barr’s fridge.
    Willie Nelson was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of narcotic mushrooms and marijuana. A bear was also arrested for shitting in the woods.
    –h/t Dailycomedy.com

    Reply

  21. Dan Kervick says:

    “Dan, the profiling being suggested is that used by professional law enforcement – behavioral, not racial. You look for the nervous guy with a one-way ticket and no luggage. The group of businessmen with luggage and return tickets go right through.”
    Well, obviously, replacing a scan of all passengers with a selective investigation of nervous, twitchy, signal-emitting people is no way to secure air travel. I think anyone attempting to carry out a terrorist attack who has received even a minimal amount of training is unlikely to exhibit obvious behavioral tells.

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  22. Don Bacon says:

    Sorry Willie, I wrote Willy, I got so upset.

    Reply

  23. Don Bacon says:

    Hey, not only did they catch that set-up teen terror in Oregon, the Border Patrol has nabbed public enemy Number One, the scourge of everything that is good and right — WILLY NELSON!
    Yessir folks, you can sleep soundly tonight because Homeland Security is looking out for you. Caught that dastardly Willy Nelson who was on the road again in his tour bus with his favorite MJ smokes.
    No more Farm Aid benefits for this guy, he’s a threat to society as we know it. No more duets with Julio Iglesias. Send him to the Big House, along with the set-up teen terror.
    Scan ’em and pat ’em down first — don’t forget.
    Willy Nelson. A set-up Teenage Terrorist. Gawd, what have we become.
    Reminds me of something that happened before most of you were even born. It was the Army-McCcarthy Hearings in 1954, when SOB Senator Joseph McCarthy attacked a lad who worked for the Army’s attorney, Joseph Welch.
    It was enough for Welch. It was all he could take from this shyster senator. He responded: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator…. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
    US: “Have you left no sense of decency?”

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  24. Don Bacon says:

    Part of the problem is that nobody is being honest with the American traveler. Exactly why are these intrusions necessary?
    Come on, you can tell us. As much as you want to throw money at your friends, at least humor us with some facts, dear leaders. Remember the campaign promises of open government? We do.
    Juan Cole:
    The old scanners and procedures designed to discover metal (guns, knives, bombs with timers or detonators) are helpless before a relatively low-tech alternative kind of explosive that is favored by al-Qaeda and similar groups.
    The inspectors are looking for forms of PETN, or pentaerythritol tetranitrate, which is from the same family of explosives as nitroglycerin and which is used to make plastic explosives such as Semtex. The problem with PETN is that it cannot be detected by sniffing dogs or by ordinary scanners. But if you had a pouch of it on your person, the new scanners could see the pouch, and likewise a thorough pat-down would lead to its discovery.
    from the Gulf Blog:
    It is by no means certain that the

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  25. WigWag says:

    “Do you tell your local police they must spend an equal amount of time patrolling low-crime areas as high-crime areas, because it’s “unfair” to single out high-crime areas for extra attention? That is precisely your logic.” (Nadine)
    No, Nadine, you

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  26. nadine says:

    “If some decipherable percentage of Muslim fliers were intent on blowing up airplanes your point might have some saliency. But the reality is that the percentage of Muslim fliers who plan to cause carnage is so infinitesimally small that to subject Muslims to greater scrutiny than anyone else is not only irrational, it’s repugnant.”
    Whatever the “decipherable percentage” of Muslim fliers who want to blow up airplanes may be, it is many orders of magnitude higher than the percentage of non-Muslim fliers who want to do the same. So stop hassling Swedish grandmothers, toddlers, pilots and frequent fliers — who should have biometric opt-out cards — and concentrate your professional efforts on the likely source of the trouble.
    Do you tell your local police they must spend an equal amount of time patrolling low-crime areas as high-crime areas, because it’s “unfair” to single out high-crime areas for extra attention? That is precisely your logic.
    “Do you really think that your average TSA agent is professional enough to discern the difference between a terrorist and businessman just be observing him?”
    That is an argument for replacing the TSA with a professional force. Is is NOT an argument for allowing low-paid unprofessionals to frisk, grope and strip-search members of the American people whose only ‘crime’ is wanting to board an airplane.
    The Left was loud enough about violations of 4th amendment rights under Bush. Did we lose all our rights when Obama became President?

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  27. WigWag says:

    There is nothing wrong with profiling by behavior, Nadine; in fact the TSA already trains its officers to do it. The idea that profiling by behavior is controversial is a canard; hardly anyone objects to the idea of carefully scrutinizing air travelers who are behaving in a manner that most normal people (or highly trained professionals) would consider suspicious.
    As you well know, the controversial issue is whether young men who appear to be of Middle Eastern background (or whose passports show are from a Middle Eastern nation) should automatically be subject to a higher degree of scrutiny than the rest of us.
    I don’t think that they should. I think it is preferable that all of us are inconvenienced instead of a tiny minority of people who are overwhelmingly innocent.
    Your problem is that you are conflating *political correctness* with decency and fairness. If some decipherable percentage of Muslim fliers were intent on blowing up airplanes your point might have some saliency. But the reality is that the percentage of Muslim fliers who plan to cause carnage is so infinitesimally small that to subject Muslims to greater scrutiny than anyone else is not only irrational, it’s repugnant.
    You ask “how many people will have to die before you abandon this idiotic Political Correctness!”
    How many Americans have died in terrorist attacks on airplanes since 2001? Even if the tiny number of plots to blow up airplanes that were foiled had succeeded, what percentage of the flying public would have died?
    It seems perfectly reasonable to me to think its un-American to ask members of a minority group (that is already in the process of becoming despised in the United States) to have to bear a disproportionate burden at the airport security line when the likelihood that any particular member of that minority group has nefarious intentions really isn’t any greater than the likelihood that you or I have nefarious intentions.
    As right-wingers love to point out, the United States isn’t Europe, it isn’t Asia and it isn’t the Arab world. We rightly expect all Americans to respect their heritages while merging into the melting pot of the United States. It is this ideology that makes the United States unique and special. More than anything else, it differentiates our country from other countries. It

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  28. nadine says:

    “It is simply wrong that these young men should be subject to heightened scrutiny over and over again, every time they travel while the rest of us soar through the security line without being unduly molested.”
    Wigwag, you are assuming that professional security agents are too stupid to discern the difference in behavior between a legitimate Jordanian businessman and a Yemeni terrorist. This is an unwarranted assumption.
    Professionals profile on behavior to find probable cause. If the behavior emanates from a certain subgroup 99% of the time, they look at that subgroup, because it’s damn stupid not to! How many people will have to die before you abandon this idiotic Political Correctness!
    I have seen many interviews of Jordanian businessmen and other Arab fliers, where they are asked how they feel about this. They usually reply that they are willing to endure the scrutiny, for they don’t want to get killed by the terrorists either — and they are at far higher risk than most of us.

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  29. questions says:

    W/W,
    Nice post!

    Reply

  30. WigWag says:

    “But do you pay more attention to certain profiles than others, young Muslim men over Scandinavian grandmothers? Of course you do. 99% of the terrorists are young Muslim men. That’s not racism, it’s common sense.” (Nadine)
    It is true that 99 percent of all of the terrorists who wish to blow up airplanes are young Muslim men. But it is also true that far more than 99 percent of the young Muslim men who board airplanes are not terrorists and have the same desire that you and I do when we board an airplane; to get where they’re going safely and expeditiously while being treated with a modicum of respect.
    It is simply wrong that these young men should be subject to heightened scrutiny over and over again, every time they travel while the rest of us soar through the security line without being unduly molested. Yes, the chance that the next terrorist attack will be committed by a young Muslim man is great; but the chance that the next terrorist attack will be carried out by any particular young Muslim man is infintessimal. Is it any more decent that all Muslim men should be hassled at the airport because of the behavior of a tiny minority than it is that all young men should be hassled or all men or all people?
    While I would make exceptions for the very old or the very young (if you can’t tie your shoe laces the chance that you plan to blow up the airplane is de minimis), I think it’s better for all Americans to bear the burden of being scrutinized at the airport rather than have a minority group, the vast majority of whose members are perfectly innocent, from being singled out.
    If the motto E pluribus unum is to have any meaning at all, than sometimes we have to collectively bear a burden in the interest of unity even if it means things don’t always run as efficiently as they might and even if it means we are inconvenienced.

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  31. JohnH says:

    Ah, yes, saving us by irradiating us with lethal doses of xrays.
    Smile!

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  32. Don Bacon says:

    Forbes news report
    X-ray vans that can see through walls–and clothes hit America’s streets. Nervous yet?
    Privacy-conscious travelers may cringe to think of the full-body scanners finding their way into dozens of airport checkpoints around the country. Most likely aren’t aware that the same technology, capable of seeing through walls and clothes, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets.
    American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Mass., has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter X-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles or cargo containers to snoop into their contents.
    The company, which calls the ZBV its flagship product, sold 89 of the vehicles in the 15 months ending in June at $850,000 apiece, accounting for a sizable chunk of its $224 million in sales for its last fiscal year. http://tinyurl.com/33drclv
    I saw one of these trucks at a highway checkpoint the other day. 850K clams apiece, and the kids a couple towns over sit in “temporary” classrooms that were “temporary” many years ago.
    Smile!

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  33. JohnH says:

    “The FBI has set up, er, caught, another dangerous teen-age terrorist.” Uh, the timing is perfect to counter Americans’ disgust at intrusive body searches. And it’s great for Michael Chertoff’s Rapiscan body scanner business.
    Makes you wonder how may other bomb scares have been setups. I mean, what serious terrorist mastermind would constantly issue duds to his suicide bombers?
    Are false flag operations becoming a routine tool?

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  34. Don Bacon says:

    The FBI has set up, er, caught, another dangerous teen-age terrorist.
    news report (excerpts):
    According to the FBI affidavit, the case began in August 2009 when Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was in e-mail contact with an unindicted associate overseas who was believed to be involved in terrorist activities.
    Ultimately, an FBI undercover operative contacted Mohamud in a June 2010 e-mail under the guise of being an associate of the first unindicted associate. . .
    [Mohamud], thinking he was going to ignite a bomb, drove a van to the corner of the square at Southwest Yamhill Street and Sixth Avenue and attempted to detonate it. However, the supposed explosive was a dummy that FBI operatives supplied to him, according to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint signed Friday night by U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta.
    “The threat was very real,” said Oregon’s FBI Special Agent in Charge Arthur Balizan. “Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale. At the same time, I want to reassure the people of this community that, every turn, we denied him the ability to actually carry out the attack.”
    [Mohamud is accused of] attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. http://tinyurl.com/2ebcso8

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  35. Don Bacon says:

    re: smart intelligence work
    news report:
    Evidence has now surfaced that Flight 253 attempted bomber Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab was reported to the CIA by his father Alhaji Uma Abdulmutallab about a month before boarding the plane to Detroit.
    His father told the CIA about his son due to his concerns about his son’s increasing radicalisation, but the warning was not passed on in full. Alhaji Uma Abdulmutallab reportedly had one face to face meeting with a CIA official and several telephone calls about his fears.
    A report was allegedly sent by to the headquarters in Langely but most of it appears to not have been passed on to other departments. The CIA would have had this report for five weeks before the attempted Christmas Day attack.
    http://tinyurl.com/2fqm4hd

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  36. Don Bacon says:

    At the recent Senate committee hearing to receive testimony from TSA chief John Pistole, the committee chairman Senator Jay Rockefeller D-WV set up Pistole’s testimony promoting scanners by summarizing recent terror acts, only one of which involved an airplane, the underwear bomber.
    Rockefeller falsely said that all three plots, including the airplane one, had been foiled by smart intelligence and the effort needed to be expanded. Bullshit, senator, you lying weasel.
    How about asking for a passport? What a concept.
    A Michigan man who was aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 says he witnessed Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab trying to board the plane in Amsterdam without a passport. Kurt Haskell of Newport, Mich. said he and his wife were sitting near their boarding gate in Amsterdam, which is when they saw Mutallab approach the gate with an unidentified man.
    Kurt and Lori Haskell are attorneys with Haskell Law Firm in Taylor. Their expertise includes bankruptcy, family law and estate planning.
    While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit, Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport.

    Reply

  37. nadine says:

    “Sure, let’s accept “a relatively minor scanning procedure.” I have full trust in the TSA clowns to properly operate potentially harmful X-ray machines. ” (Don Bacon)
    Doesn’t everybody? How long until the first lawsuit? Oh wait, they’re government and you can’t sue the government.
    I don’t know if this is some kind of tipping point that will force politicians (if only for their own self-preservation) to demand that we install real security procedures instead of security theater that runs around bothering as many people as possible, at random. I hope it is.
    Fewer people flew and more people drove than usual this Thanksgiving. The airlines must just looove the Obama administration.

    Reply

  38. nadine says:

    “…if that’s what it takes to make sure that our fellow-Americans are not singled out for special searches and harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion.” (Dan Kervick)
    Dan, the profiling being suggested is that used by professional law enforcement – behavioral, not racial. You look for the nervous guy with a one-way ticket and no luggage. The group of businessmen with luggage and return tickets go right through.
    But do you pay more attention to certain profiles than others, young Muslim men over Scandinavian grandmothers? Of course you do. 99% of the terrorists are young Muslim men. That’s not racism, it’s common sense.
    Liberalism is a dying philosophy because when forced to choose between its ideology and common sense, it chooses ideology every time. Eventually, nobody will be left to follow. You’ll be like the Israeli Left today, 4% of diehards, like the old Commies who never lost faith in “Uncle Joe” Stalin.

    Reply

  39. Don Bacon says:

    Who’s operating X-ray machines?
    news report:
    “The work life here is horrible,” said [Rick] McCoy, president of his local union representing [TSA] officers. Turnover is like a “revolving door” and health benefits are “atrocious,” he said. Morale is low and so is the pay, he added.
    Officers typically start at $29,000, but that’s only if they’re working full-time. New officers often start as part-time workers, said McCoy, at about $14 per hour. He said that part-timers, who make up 37% of the screener workforce at O’Hare, typically have to work four-hour days for at least three years before they’re considered for full-time.
    “I can’t sugar coat this to these guys,” said McCoy, who described many of the new employees as young students. “I tell them, ‘Whatever you do, don’t leave school.'” http://tinyurl.com/29bzf2a

    Reply

  40. Don Bacon says:

    TSA advertises employment on pizza boxes
    “A career where X-ray vision and federal benefits come standard . . .See yourself in a vital role for Homeland Security. Be part of a dynamic security team protecting airports and skies as you proudly secure your future”
    see it here http://tinyurl.com/2cr9z7o

    Reply

  41. Don Bacon says:

    Sure, let’s accept “a relatively minor scanning procedure.” I have full trust in the TSA clowns to properly operate potentially harmful X-ray machines.
    Okay, they’re not recommended for pregnant women but they don’t mind being groped as an alternative. Pregnant women are very open-minded about some stranger running her hands all over their bodies. So are little children and people over 65 for whom the scanners are not recommended.
    Oh, they’re not recommended for these people? Why is that? Oh, it’s because they are potentially dangerous.
    In related news, radiation overdoses resulting from botched CT brain perfusion scans that occurred at hospitals across the country were larger and more widespread than previously known, according to a New York Times investigation.

    Reply

  42. Dan Kervick says:

    “Having tens of millions of Americans subjected to a high degree of scrutiny may just be the price that we have to pay to prevent minority groups (the vast majority of individuals belonging to these groups as innocent as anyone else) from being singled out unfairly.”
    I think that’s an important point to re-emphasize. Americans who oppose the imposition of profiling, whether Israeli-style or any other style, need to let their representatives know that they are willing to endure a relatively minor scanning procedure if that’s what it takes to make sure that our fellow-Americans are not singled out for special searches and harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion.

    Reply

  43. nadine says:

    “Honest debate? Like shall we further eviscerate the 4th amendment for some bogus reason?” (DonS)
    Don, we’re already subject to random groping at the airport (with train and bus stations coming soon). Obama and Big Sis have already gutted our 4th amendment rights. In case you hadn’t noticed.
    Al Qaeda’s next move is obvious: send a suicide bomber onto a plane with explosives inside a body cavity. The TSA will then probably try to do cavity searches on randomly chosen passengers – anything rather than do behavioral profiling, which would be 100 times more effective at 10% of the cost!

    Reply

  44. nadine says:

    “The Israelis profile fliers, Americans don’t. If the Israeli system was used in the United States we would not only be safer, but it would cost less, not more and fewer people would be inconvenienced.”
    (Wigwag)
    As the Israelis say, we don’t have a security system. We have a system for bothering people.
    Pure security theater. It never caught a single terrorist. Nor ever will.
    But Walt thinks he can find a new use for it…he can blame it on the US Mideast policy, which as he has so helpfully explained, is all controlled by the Jooooooos.

    Reply

  45. nadine says:

    “And as Harvard scholar and Foreign Policy blogger Stephen Walt wrote to me this morning:
    Am I the only person who sees the irony in the recommendation that the US adopt the Israeli approach to airline security? The proper question to ask is: why do we suddenly need greater airport security?
    Could it be because we’ve gradually adopted Israel’s approach to the Middle East too?” (Steve Clemons)
    That would certainly explain why Britain, Spain, France and Germany, which have very different Middle East policies, have not suffered from Islamist terrorism or the threat of it and don’t need such airport security.
    Oh wait.
    But the theory must be good. It comes from a “Harvard scholar” so it can’t possibly be wrong.

    Reply

  46. dickerson3870 says:

    RE: Fox News’s Sean Hannity proclaimed: “We have a paradigm,
    a model that is enormously successful, and that’s Israel.”
    SEE: Israeli firm blasted for letting would-be plane
    bomber slip through ~ By Yossi Melman, Haaretz,
    01/10/10

    Reply

  47. Carroll says:

    BTW…..Israel has only two airports and only 50 flights a day.
    Therefore the politicans who want to imitate Israeli flight checks have only an average I.Q. of 60.

    Reply

  48. Carroll says:

    CUOMO FOR PRESIDENT!
    He nailed this guy and his cohorts.
    Ex-New York Comptroller Hevesi Pleads Guilty to Corruption in Fund …
    Oct 8, 2010 … Former New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi pleaded guilty to participating in a pay-to-play scandal at the public pension fund he once …
    http://www.bloomberg.com/…/ex-new-york-comptroller-hevesi-to-plead-guilty-of- corruption-in-fund-probe.html
    Among Hevesi’s other activities.
    Hevesi met with his California counterpart, comptroller Steve Westly and Elliot Broidy. Elliot Broidy of Markstone Capital Group. They met on May 19, 2003, in order to “pitch” the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to invest in Markstone. Markstone was a fund that invested in Israeli companies.
    By December 1997, Hevesi as Comptroller of the City of New York enlisted the weight and soundness of his City’s finances in the cause of forcing Swiss banks to meet the demands of the World Jewish Congress and other organizations then suing Swiss banks over Nazi-era bank balances the WJC said was owing to the heirs of victims of the Holocaust, joined eventually by both then-Mayor of New York City Rudolph Giuliani and then-Governor of New York State George Pataki. In his book on the subject, Norman Finkelstein dubs him “the godfather of Holocaust restitution sanctions.”[18]
    He recruited the financial officers of many other states and municipalities in the US to similarly place the powers and responsibilities entrusted to them by their employers at the service of this cause, at one point calling them to a conference in his own city at which they discussed ways and means of coordinating their individual actions for maximum effect.[19] Sanctions took the forms, variously, of withdrawing balances from (the US branches of) Swiss banks, disinvestment in Swiss banks and their various investment vehicles, disinvestment in Swiss companies, and in companies of other nationalities with operations or markets in Switzerland. Hevesi and a number of his accomplices further undertook to deny regulatory permissions to Swiss banks seeking to expand their activities in their jurisdictions.
    This effort against Switzerland having seemed successful in securing the $1.25 billion (1999) settlement, Hevesi then brought the power of the ad hoc network he had constructed to bear in subsequent actions against Germany, Austria, and other countries,[20] where its use also was deemed successful in raising the amounts of the settlements.

    Reply

  49. Don Bacon says:

    This bust should help the Mendocino County growers — prices are ‘way down.

    Reply

  50. PissedOffAmerican says:

    San Diego drug tunnel had railcar, tons of pot
    The tunnel found Thursday is 2,200 feet long, more than seven football fields, and runs from the kitchen of a home in Tijuana, Mexico, to two warehouses in San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial district, said Mike Unzueta, head of investigations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego.
    November 26, 2010 7:19 PM EST
    SAN DIEGO (AP)

    Reply

  51. samuelburke says:

    Washington Post columnist describes bald racism behind
    Israeli security
    by PHILIP WEISS on NOVEMBER 26, 2010

    Reply

  52. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Israel has rock solid borders. Hence its profiling makes sense, at least in a tactical sense, if not an ethical sense.
    Today, another large tunnel was discovered on the San Diego/Mexican border. They are saying tons and tons of marijuanna has passed through that tunnel. What else has passed through it?
    Are we really so fuckin’ daft that we think this bullshit taking place in our airports makes us more secure, safer, when anyone with two legs can simply stroll over, or under, our border with Mexico? Should we profile Muslims at the airports, making it hard for actual Muslim terrorists to board an airplane to enter our country, won’t we be making a simple illegal border crossing all the more attractive?
    Its fucking bullshit, the whole “security” con game. MILLIONS of people are on the “no fly” list, many inexplicably, trapped in a system there is no way out of once you have entered it.
    Meanwhile the airplane maintainence people get on and off the airplanes willy nilly, without going through scanners or body searches. Does that make sense?
    Fart. When that minimum wage sack of shit has a hold of your nuts, fart. It won’t stop ’em, but at least they’ll have to do their eight hours uncomfortably in a gas mask.
    Its actually kinda ironic, though, if you think about it. A pencil dicked oxycontin addicted fat ass like Limbaugh, or the chauvanist pervert womanizer O’reilly, have their boxers in a bunch over someone finding out how big, (or more likely; tiny), their rig is, but they welcomed the Patriot Act with open arms, defended the monkey boy as he gutted our rights to privacy, and cheered that felon Gonzales on as he shredded the rule of law. So the message is; Yeah, if you wanna tack a label on us so you can throw us in gulags indefinitely with no hope of legal redress, and with a good chance some sick sack of shit like Lyndie England, or worse, is gonna shove a light stick up our asses, go for it. But by God, don’t you dare put a hand on my rigging.
    I’m telling ya, its the Twilight Zone. This GWOT stuff has gotten so bizarre, so beyond reason, that one can only conclude we are a nation gone completely and utterly daft. This can’t go on much longer. Something is going to bust at the seams.
    Put in a garden. You might want a well, too.
    “Junk”????
    Not mine. We’re talkin’ quality here.

    Reply

  53. DonS says:

    “The Israelis profile fliers, Americans don’t. If the Israeli system was used in the United States we would not only be safer, but it would cost less, not more and fewer people would be inconvenienced.”
    I’m not groking the figures, per passenger, to profile. 4th amendment concerns not with standing.
    “None of this means profiling is a good idea for the United States; but having an honest debate about the subject is a good idea.”
    Honest debate? Like shall we further eviscerate the 4th amendment for some bogus reason?

    Reply

  54. Don Bacon says:

    There are about 600,000 Americans living in Mexico, where you can do pretty much what you want so long as it doesn’t impact someone else (or interfere with the free flow of drugs).

    Reply

  55. WigWag says:

    This post is simpleminded.
    To adopt the Israeli model of airport security the United States wouldn’t need to utilize the Israeli strategy of questioning every traveler for ten minutes or more and it wouldn’t need to hire tens of thousands of new TSA agents. It certainly wouldn’t need to spend $40 billion or anything near it. Steve Clemons surely understands this, but he’s made the decision to treat his readers like they

    Reply

  56. DonS says:

    Right on time, Janet Nepolitano is thinking hard about full body scanners for other means of transportation than air. How many ways can you reply “fuck you”?
    http://news.antiwar.com/2010/11/25/napolitano-eyes-full-body-scans-for-trains-ships-mass-transit/
    Ya know, I’m too old and unconnected to garner citizenship in another country that could provide a reasonable exile — like Norway (where is Paul BTW?) — but I imagine I would jump at it.

    Reply

  57. DonS says:

    Presuming you are familiar , or were familiar, with the late Steve Gilliard, can you imagine what he would do tearing up the brother Obama?

    Reply

  58. Don Bacon says:

    The security state, with its migration of allowed activities to the restricted category.
    A. allowed activities
    eating
    breathing
    sex
    B. restricted activities
    employment
    partnerships
    education
    demonstrations
    travel
    reproductive rights
    drug use
    medical care
    business
    Only a few to go.

    Reply

  59. Don Bacon says:

    Obama might go for it.
    Ah, the 2008 campaign — it seems so long ago.
    from BAR
    “No Dog in this Fight”
    by P Jerome
    published in Black Agenda Report
    Tue, 10/21/2008
    “These are not complicated positions, but we are given the “choice” between John “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” McCain and Barack “Threats in 100 different countries” Obama. McCain is beyond the pale for any but the proto-fascists among us, and even they have reservations about his health and sanity.
    “But to question whether the potential ascension of “Saint Barack” is a good thing, to put into the play of questions of his militarism and support for authoritarianism at home, or to outright oppose his candidacy based on lies and war-mongering, is to invite the wrath of the “good liberal” majority.”
    http://blackagendareport.com/?q=node/10850
    People claim they had no idea, but BAR pegged him.

    Reply

  60. samuelburke says:

    Steve says–Am I the only person who sees the irony in the recommendation that the US adopt the Israeli approach to airline security? The proper question to ask is: why do we suddenly need greater airport security?
    Could it be because we’ve gradually adopted Israel’s approach to the Middle East too?
    Steve part of the problem is that washington pundits like you don’t just come out and speak your mind…the american neocons just step up and scream it from the mountain tops while you ask permission to suggest something from which you can tap out if they put pressure on you…guys like you are the reason why Chalmers Johnson finally broke out and spoke up.
    it’s sort of like coming out…you just do it and your’e free.
    time is of the essence for our nation at this juncture either the security state is exposed or we go down for the last time.
    that’s how it was for me.

    Reply

  61. DonS says:

    — Current Roger Cohen story in NYT on massive airport security boondoggle stoked by and benefiting Michael Chertoff ( http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/26/opinion/26iht-edcohen.html?hp )
    — Israeli style airport security is prohibitively expensive and involves unabashed profiling
    — what about all other currently under-underemphasized security risks? Shall we be practical or bankrupt the nation further to satisfy the ‘soft on terror’ ignoramuses?
    — 4th amendment concerns? Giving up privacy rights on the throne of irrational fear, though a fear laser targeted (by those who profit) on the particular medium of 911
    — Obama? Sorry to be crude but it seems like with these really important issues in the air he prefers to sit around with his thumb stuck up his ass.
    — The Israeli approach! The Israeli approach! Just another media cliche to highlight Israel as the model for the US? Afer all, what ‘real’ benefit does Israel bring to the table as an ally? Call me suspicious.

    Reply

  62. questions says:

    On junk….
    Isn’t it funny that the things that are most public, most commonly shared among us all — sex, bodies, excretion — are the things we most want to keep private, and the things that are most private about us — our thoughts and feelings and experiences — we most want to share via writing, talking, and therapy?
    So now the Republicans want us to share our most private parts in El Al-style interviews, but then we can keep our most public junk private again.
    It’s a funny world.
    (Luis Bunuel has a movie, I believe, that deals with some of the oddities of public and private matters.)

    Reply

  63. JohnH says:

    Republican calls for Israeli-style airport security–a gigantic boondoggle for private security contractors, adding yet another breed of leeches onto the Treasury.

    Reply

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