This site has many discussions about the ability and willingness of Americans to regain control of our nation and our fate. Central to that project is the American spirit. We see the state of the American spirit tested at our Airports, indoctrination centers for a serfs. They accustom us to accept arbitrary authority, applied with no rational purpose. Our passive acceptance of this — it is not even a minor issue in the election — suggests that we may no longer be a free people in our hearts.
We can tell a thousand stories about airport security, the pointless indignities and violations of our civil liberties. Here are two to start the conversation, about laptops and nipple rings. This is the first in a series giving a different perspective on what we have become.
1. Protecting your right to have no secrets from the government
“U.S. defends laptop searches at the border”, US News and World Report, 10 July 2008 — “Courts have upheld routine checks of Americans’ hard drives at the border. Critics say they’re anything but routine.” Excerpt:
The Department of Homeland Security contends these searches and seizures of electronic files are vital to detecting terrorists and child pornographers. It also says it has the constitutional authority to do them without a warrant or probable cause.
Looks like our liberals were correct: the American Constitution is a “living document”, re-shaped to meet the needs of each new generation. The new version just lacks some of the civil liberties in the old version.
Subsequent new reports have provided more details.
“Travelers’ Laptops May Be Detained At Border“, Washington Post, 1 August 2008 — “No Suspicion Required Under DHS Policies” — Opening:
Federal agents may take a traveler’s laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.
Also, officials may share copies of the laptop’s contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
2. Protecting your right to feel — to be — helpless before government agents
“TSA Forces Woman To Remove Nipple Rings For Flight“, AP, 27 March 2008
Statement posted at the website of the Transportation Safety Administration on 28 March 2008 (bold emphasis added):
TSA has reviewed the circumstances related to the screening of a passenger with body piercings that occurred recently in Lubbock, Texas. It appears that the Transportation Security Officers involved properly followed procedures in that incident. They rightly insisted that the alarm that was raised be resolved. TSA supports the thoroughness of the Officers involved as they were acting to protect the passengers and crews of the flights departing Lubbock that day.
TSA has reviewed the procedures themselves and agrees that they need to be changed. In the future TSA will inform passengers that they have the option to resolve the alarm through a visual inspection of the article in lieu of removing the item in question. TSA acknowledges that our procedures caused difficulty for the passenger involved and regrets the situation in which she found herself. We appreciate her raising awareness on this issue and we are changing the procedures to ensure that this does not happen again.
Yes, the officers were thorough beyond the call of duty.
Another point about how we got here
This is more evidence that of my belief that 9/11 was the most effective single military operation in the history of the world.
With a single strike al Qaeda changed the course of the world’s hegemonic state, by many measures the most powerful nation (relative to its time) that the world has ever seen. They did this at a negligible cost in money and manpower — never have so few changed so many with so little effort. Our counter-strikes have damaged or crippled al Qaeda, but its leaders may see al Qaeda as the vanguard of their movement, not its body — and hence expendable.
9/11 changed the course of America in terms of both internal and external policy, changing both in ways almost certainly inimical to our long-term strength and prosperity. Al Qaeda manipulated America as a matador does with a bull, waving a cape to so that the bull charges into position for the thrust of the sword.
… This is not a decisive battle, where thousands fight to determine the fate of nations. This is a dozen guys with box cutters deliberately setting out to change the course of a nation – and succeeding. The multiple of force to effect is astonishing, beyond anything I can think of in history. These were “super-empowered individuals” not because of what they did — planes crash, buildings burn, life goes on — but because of what we did afterwards. The leverage came not from their actions but through our reaction.
As RJH said in the comments: “The purpose of an action is the reaction.”
However, let us be clear on the two key points. First, we did this to ourselves. Ours is the responsibility. Second, we can still get America back on track. There are elections in November. Make your voice heard by campaigning (donating time and money) and raising your voice (with friends and via the various media).
Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).
Other posts in this series about America, how we got here and how we can recover it
- Forecast: Death of the American Constitution, 4 July 2006
- Diagnosing the Eagle, Chapter III – reclaiming the Constitution, 3 January 2008
- A report card for the Republic: are we still capable of self-government?, 3 July 2008
- Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
- de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
- A soft despotism for America?, 22 July 2008
- The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
- We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008
- Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008
- Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008
- Fixing America: elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008
- Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
- Fixing America: solutions — elections, revolt, passivity, 18 August 2008
- The intelligentsia takes easy steps to abandoning America, 19 August 2008
For all posts on this subject see America – how can we reform it?.