Tag Archives: drones

TSA Opt-Out Experience: “Sir, the agent will touch your groin and buttocks.”

I am westward bound. Thirty-thousand feet above the earth’s surface with nothing, but my thoughts and a laptop I have been allowed to temporarily utilize to curb my boredom – that is until the pilot indicates I have to “shut down all approved electronic devices”.

The TSA

Before arriving at this cozy little window seat a lot happened. I was obediently herded from the airport entrance, through check-in, and to security. In an orderly fashion I obeyed the TSA overlords and moved in a single file line toward the security checkpoint. As instructed I handed over my identification and carefully removed anything that could be utilized for terrorist activities.

Such items for removal include my belt, watch, shoes, and jacket. All electronics, liquids, and my personal hygiene items must be emptied into a bin for closer examination. Now barefoot, I must agree to a full body scan of my entire skeletal structure – I must prove I am not harboring any items of ill will – all to guarantee safety, of course. The giant body scanner stands before me.

The Opt-Out Experience

Since I value my personal liberty and would rather my body not be bombarded with protons, electrons, back-scatter rays, or magical beams – none of which I fully understand – I choose to opt out and accept the fully body pat-down. This of course brings a certain amount of public criticism and shame. I am being a difficult slave so an appropriate amount of public humiliation must follow – per protocol I’m convinced.

Loudly: “Sir, you are aware that by opting out an agent will be touching your groin and buttocks?” I confirm.

Another agent, sarcastically: “Sir, you know this machine doesn’t cause cancer, right?”

Me: “Yes, sir. I’m aware of these facts and I would still like to opt out.” I’m a black sheep now. Time for the pat-down. For everyone’s safety, of course.

I’m pulled aside. A few slaves look at me uncomfortably. They can’t be sure I’m not a trouble maker. My actions have confused the herd. I have separated myself from those obediently following the rules set forth by the system.

The Pat-Down

My baggage is laid before me, but I cannot touch it. Not until they are sure I am not a criminal – a terrorist. Like a convicted felon I hold my arms to the side, palms up, as instructed. The TSA agent inspects my hands, rubs my thighs, groin, back, chest, and buttocks. No surface of my body is untouched. The agent then takes his gloves to a magical machine which confirms no traces of terrorist residue have made their way to his hands during pat-down. (I wonder how much that machine costs? Our tax dollars at work – nothing wasted.)

A few seconds later the TSA agent returns and allows me to be on my way. I thank the agent for his time with a smirk.

Some slaves feel degrading and I see why, but this does not phase me. I smile and thank each agent for their time as I gather my things. I decide the experience was free and public body massage. A normal person may have been humiliated – fuck it – I am happy to oblige.

All of this inconvenience, humiliation, forfeiture of your rights, and submission of your personal information (down to a scanned blueprint of your body) in the name of safety. In effort to combat against a terrorist threat we slaves are apparently too stupid and too naïve fully to understand.

I can’t help but ask myself: “Is our sacrifice of personal space and privacy worth it? Is the precedence we have established justifiable?” The answer is no. Undeniably no.

Forfeiture

We have to be careful what we get used to. I mean this sincerely. We are experiencing a slow yet steady forfeiture of our basic rights as human beings – not just as Americans – but as flesh and blood human organisms. Our right to move about has been encroached. Our right to personal privacy – even in the most intimate way – has been thrown out. Taxes slowly increase (we now work almost 6 months a year to pay taxes alone). We are monitored continuously – via email, photograph, surveillance cameras and drones, and innumerable registrations.

And perhaps worst of all, if the Government finds reason to label you a terrorist (in which the rules of obtaining such a label have not been explained to the public) the Government can legally hold you without trial, forever, and kill you.

All this in the name of public safety? How long will this excuse suffice? Where do we draw the line?

Blowback from Drone Attacks: Kidnap Americans

I recently read this memo written by Al-Qaida. The memo lists 22 tactics to manage and avoid drone attacks.

The most disturbing part of the memo is the proposed kidnapping of American citizens. Al-Qaida’s goal is to cause enough outrage over drone attacks and the supposed retaliatory kidnappings to prompt a response from the public demanding the end of drone tactics.

Via Al-Qaida:

There is the golden solution that shortens the long distances and through which we can bring back the pressure of the American public opinion in a more active way depending on the strategy of kidnapping in exchange for the drone strategy and we should not stop until they stop their strategy which will enable all the supporter of jihad to take part in defeating Petraeus and his new strategy. We start kidnapping Western citizens in any spot in the world, whether in the Islamic Maghreb, Egypt, Iraq or any other easy kidnapping places and the only demand is the halt of attacks on civilians in Yemen which is a just and humanitarian demand that will create world support and a public opinion pressure in America as they are being hurt again. We, therefore, aim at the core of the nation’s strategy which if failed, America, will accordingly collapse. We also are taking part in laying a block in the promising Islamic State in the Arab peninsula.

Al-Qaida demand that the US bring and end to drone attacks on civilians in Yemen and see this request as a “just and humanitarian demand that will create world support”. I think that is a legitimate request. However, Al-Qaida doesn’t seem to realize that with kidnappings they will simultaneously lose any gained public relations benefits.

Harming innocent individuals and families while also flaming the fears of the public is a bad tactic and seems contradictory to their overall mission. Perhaps they should read about passive resistance techniques use by Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Overall the whole memo is kind of frightening and sobering.

Drones and Children

Someone I know sent me this link today. It is a list of 47 children who have perished due to Drone strikes under the Obama administration.

I think this list is meant to be an interesting juxtaposition to the “crying for the children” Obama presented to the public after the tragedy of Newton, Connecticut.  Leaving many Americans wondering what makes the Newton County children any more a tragedy than the deaths of 47 innocent brown children over the past few years.

Grey Area

Of course it isn’t that black and white. Some might argue that the end justifies the means as related to the deaths of 47 middle-eastern children. They are casualties of war – a sad consequence of terrorism and radical Islam even. War is dirty and the loss of innocent life inevitable while those children slaughtered in Newton remains completely unjustified and purposeless.

Still – I can’t help wonder why Obama doesn’t occasionally take a step back and express his deep regret for every innocent life lost as result of Drone attacks – especially the children. Especially in a war against “terror” and not against any particular nation.

Doesn’t the Administration owe it to every country to apologize for the death of their citizens as result of our mission to kill a particular individual? Maybe not – I don’t know how this works. What is the etiquette in a war like this? And no doubt a legion of right-wingers would be waiting to pounce and call Obama weak at the first apology uttered.

Reflection

I guess what I’m saying here is that tragedy is everywhere and we should take time to reflect on the cost of war. We should appreciate and mourn the loss of every life – not just those in our own nation.

For myself – I wonder why the death of 22 children in Newton is so much more difficult a pill to swallow than the death of 47 children in some distant land I can’t fully conceptualize? This post goes out to all 69 of the innocent lives lost as result of someone else’s mistakes.  A sad reality of the world we live.

More News on Drones

More Drone news:

Via BusinessInsider.com:

New research from the NYU School of Law and Stanford Law School details how U.S. drones employ a tactic, known as the “double tap,” that is considered to be a terrorist act by the U.S. government.

The double tap is when a targeted strike site is hit multiple times by hellfire missiles in relatively quick succession, meaning that the second missile often strikes first responders.

The report concludes that double taps by U.S. drones raises “crucial moral and legal concerns. Not only does the practice put into question the extent to which secondary strikes comply with international humanitarian law’s basic rules … but it also potentially violates specific legal protections for medical and humanitarian personnel, and for the wounded. As international law experts have noted, intentional strikes on first responders may constitute war crimes.”

That’s enough politics for today.