About security theater, a daily demonstration that Americans are sheep

Comment by atheist in reply to “About Obama’s coronation – wisdom from Fred” (23 January 2009):

Actually, though, I like Reed’s post on the malign vaudeville that we call ‘security‘, and I see that his conclusions are the exact same ones I have come to. So maybe the guy deserves another look.

Fred Reed’s conclusions about security theater:

The whole business looks remarkably like malign vaudeville, like mummery intended to accomplish two things.

The first is to persuade the foolish that the nation is At War. Actually only the president is at war.

The second, and I would like to be wrong about this, is to train the public to obedience. The formula is simple: Keep’em scared and you can do anything. It works. Americans are rapidly becoming accustomed to Soviet-style surveillance, to the state’s power to search and spy without restraint, to being barked at and ordered about by low-level federal employees. People deserve what they tolerate.

The terrible thing about security theater IMO is that Reed’s second conclusion is almost certainly true.  Worse, we know it and do nothing.  The American people are being domesticated, like sheep — and  we do nothing.  

What would the Founders say if they saw what we have become?

What is “security theater”?

Security theater consists of security countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually improve security.

The term was coined by Bruce Schneier for his book Beyond Fear, and has gained currency in security circles, particularly for describing airport security measures. It is also used by some experts such as Edward Felten to describe the security measures imposed after the September 11 attacks. Security theater gains importance both by satisfying and exploiting the gap between perceived risk and actual risk. (from Wikipedia)

Some aricles about security theater

  1. Theater of the Absurd at the T.S.A.“, New York Times, 17 December 2006
  2. Security Theater“, Zach Phillips, Government Executive, 1 August 2007
  3. The Airport Security Follies“, Patrick Smith (commercial airline pilot), op-ed in the New York Times, 28 December 2007
  4. The Things He Carried“, Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, November 2008
  5. TSA Screening Is Security Theater“, 60 Minutes, CBS, 12 December 2008

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp interest these days:

Posts on the FM site about America: 

52 thoughts on “About security theater, a daily demonstration that Americans are sheep”

  1. “Keep’em scared and you can do anything” kind of sums up the entire Cheney/Rove political strategy from 2002 onward. That it worked for awhile is distressing, but clearly it did not in the past two elections. The media played along with that, because the state of excitation is also good sense commercially, people remember the commercials that follow more clearly the more they are adrenalized by the preceding ‘news.’ Fortunately the human nervous system becomes inured, and what works wears off if not followed by some verification that there was reason to be afraid. We seem to be about there, collectively.

    So, having been frightened and manipulated into ovine passivity, it remains to us to become citizens again. We all have a responsibility to do this and so do those in positions of leadership, who need to be more like primates or humans interacting with their fellows, than shepherds (who are, after all, business associates essentially working with, and for, butchers). Today’s quiz: what was the third word of Obama’s Inaugural Address?

  2. UC Professor George Lakoff’s (see Wikipedia) several works on political language (Dont Think of an Elephant, Moral Politics, e.g.) are relevant here. Lakoff observes a basic theme of the conservtive personality (as revealed in the language of conservative politicians and opinion makers) is the belief that the world is a dangerous place in which we need to be armed and vigilant. The comparable liberal mind-set is that the world is an “interesting” place, inviting us to explore it.

    The majority of real people are a combination of these temperaments, a shifting balance between the poles of fearfulness and openness. The extremism of political speech, on both sides, is an effort to herd people into ideological groups that support specific political objectives (usually not clear to the listeners.)

    In Plato’s Republic (Allegory of the Cave) fear of the gods and fear of foreign enemies are important tools for maintaining the authority of the state. The same is a hundred-fold more true today.
    Fabius Maxius replies: Great comment! Both are absurd oversimplifications. Too many liberals seem to have had their world-view formed by watching episodes of The Magic Schoolbus, in which the entire world is as safe as a modern playground. There are no serious dangers, taking risks is always fun and safe!

  3. Is it possible that the rates of change in our technologies is the same across the globe but having dissimilar outcomes depending on the state of a particular culture? Insecurity has remained high since 9/11 in the US and some attribute this now to intention of the ruling authority to generate obedience. Really? This is close to suggesting it was a conspiracy. The arrival of the Internet did not end privacy, it simply made it easier to violate more people’s privacy. It has democratized violation which has always existed. The first phone tap probably happened in the week the first exchange opened.

    The first plane hijacking was in 1968. Why were shocked by 9/11? Why are not Americans not more shocked by the ineptness of their intelligence and defense services, repeatedly warned this was being planned? Like internet security, airport security is a cartoon and the airports are not safe. People on airplanes will not act again like sheep and no hijacker is going to get into a cockpit if the staff follows its own procedures. So why the theater? Inertia. This is contributing to a growing dissatisfaction with government generally in America, breaking a habit established in WW2. There will be a populist uprising in America over the next decade and more that may transform this country’s politics. It has hardly begun.

    The fear that gripped the Bush people when they discovered their alleged allies in the Muslim world were responsible for the attacks never left them. This fear was certainly communicated to the body politic and shrugging it off is not easy. But it will loosen. Truthfully, the government cannot protect the people in the manner that they expect. There will be terror attacks, every government commission announces this.

    Does this mean we are consigned to live in permanent fear? That is the question of the day and has been for decades. Do not eat this, do not smoke that, stay out of the sun, this is a danger, that is worse…the litany is unending. This long antedates the terror threat. We all know its source: THE ATOMIC BOMB. It is not going away. We are very fortunate that it has not been used again although the Americans talked about, even discussed creating radioactive cordon sanitaires if they were the same as mine fields. Now we are again hearing talk of getting and using them.

    This source of anxiety is not going away. Now that the American people know their government cannot keep them safe and have even participated in the financial scams that has produced the first worldwide fiscal crisis, they are having to shake off the idea of being held safe and discover a new relationship to government. It will not be a pretty process but overdue and very necessary. What we made is bankrupt. Politics are going to return to America and much that has been taken for granted will be thrown overboard, including foreign alliances, starting with NATO and the UN I suspect.

  4. How does this “War on Terror” scare that we’ve been put under for the last 8 years compare to things like the Red Scare in the later part of the 20th century and the warnings to “keep quiet, Jerry’s watching!” during WWII? Those were certainly attempts to keep the public compliant with the government. It could be argued that those were semi-effective responses to legitimate threats, and that this security theater is neither. But isn’t it possible the previous administration BELIEVED that it was taking effective action?

    Bumbling ineptness seems more likely than some sort of sinister master plan, but perhaps I’m just being optimistic.

  5. I think it’s of important note to point out that developments in technologies has enabled the concerned public with a much wider range of news sources, opinions, and interactivity that 20 years ago didn’t exist. Not to hop on the web 2.0 train, but such developments allow collaboration that can act as a counter-balance to this “Keep’em scared” philosophy.

  6. Jonathan: I agree. The atom bomb has been the single greatest source of fear, worldwide, for 60 years. One plausible motive for the maintenance of our grandiose, useless nuclear arsenal is precisely the intimidation effect it has on both foreign and domestic populations. Similarly, the real motive for using the bomb on Japan was not winning that war but intimidating the rest of the world.

    Hegemonicon: Look in Wikipedia for the psychologist Edward Bernays, the father of modern propaganda, and his employment by Woodrow Wilson in convincing the American public to go to war in WW I. Also google Josef Goebbles’ famous remark: “you can make the people do anything you want. . .you only have to tell them there’s a foreign enemy” (paraphrased)

  7. I cannot really believe in the evil intentions of government, so I have difficulty imagining Security Theatre as part of an over-arching plan. Having worked in government, at the lowest level, to be sure, I also have a hard time believing in government’s virtue as well as in governments competence. I think it is mostly about “cya”. For years FAA’s security response to hijackings was compliance. They made small passive efforts to discourage casual hijackings, but the advice from government was the same as the advice from the terrorists: ‘do whatever you are told, and no one will get hurt’. As most hijacked planes were only damaged in front of TV cameras it was much easier to ignore terrorism’s goals and concentrate on placating terrorists on a case by case basis. And as the purpose of air piracy is rarely on-demand free charter flights, there was little commercial disincentive to airlines to fly as directed.
    The real answer to the hijacking threat has always been locked doors and defiance (on the part of pilots, passengers, and air forces). Simply allowing that to begin on 9/12 would have exposed the incompetence of western governments reactions to terrorism since the mid-sixties. It still would. The TSA doesn’t prevent terrorism, it prevents recriminations and lawsuits.
    Fabius Maximus replies: These things can result from institutional level evolution, independent of any specific plans of the people involved. That is, organizational dynamics of the whole exist beyond the intent of the parts. To describe these as a “shorthand” we speak of institutions having a will to survive — or a will to power.

  8. Edward Bernays was a nephew of Freud! Par of the Jewish World Conspiracy don’t you know. I think Potosi Joel is spot on the target.
    While I have no doubt Seneca is in part correct about the intimidation factor as part of the calculation in dropping the bombs,do not overlook revenge. Speaking of intimidation, it works in several directions. If you think you have extraordinary power, it profoundly affects your thinking, distorting it. For example, in creating our nuclear bomb inventory we turned Hanford, Washington, on the banks of the Columbia River, into the most dangerous place in North America. During the Reagan years the effort to clean it up was initiated. That effort is now 30 years behind its own schedule. More than 50 million gallons of extraordinary radioactive pollution is in underground tanks. Aside from the dreadful risks all of this poses to the River Valley, one might think that after 9/11 Hanford would be recognized as an extraordinary target that needed to be cleaned up post haste. Oh, no, the government is still doing nothing. America needs an upheaval not a reform.

  9. Pingback: Instapundit » Blog Archive » FABIUS MAXIMUS on security theater….

  10. Anyone who can’t see that bureaucracy in general attempts to force people into being sheep has never stood in a line at the welfare office or the drivers licensing station or unemployment office, or . . . well you should get the point. For gosh sake, Weber pointed out in 1895 or so what bureaucracies do. To suddenly discover that Homeland Security (or whoever) is training people to be sheep strikes me as arriving at the party a little late.

    And, of course, since liberals (or Progressives or whatever the Left is calling itself nowadays) is and has always been wildly in favor of bureaucratization of state policy. So one could scarcely fairly blame all this on conservatives or Republicans or KKKarl Rove. If you build a hammer, my guess is whoever can grab the handle will use it to hit things.

  11. ““Keep’em scared and you can do anything” kind of sums up the entire Cheney/Rove political strategy from 2002 onward”

    How very odd then that Mencken noticed the same thing many years before Cheney or Rove, when he wrote: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” When was this? The 30s? The 40s? I think it was when saint Franklin was running the show.

    But no doubt Mencken was mistaken and only Cheney and Rove are so vile as to do this. No lefty or Democrat ever would.

  12. This is not a partisan issue, it is a bureaucratic and agency issue.

    Like the FDA’s being overly cautiousness in the approval of drugs, this is largely an issue of differing agency incentives for type I and type II errors. Those in charge would get blamed far more for a missed incident with some precedent for preventability than for all of the headache of all those (effective) false positives. It is highly unlikely anyone will ever again be able to hijack a plane with a knife (let alone nail clippers) but as much as people make fun of the small pointy object and liquid ban, can you imagine the public wrath the head of Homeland would face if the rules were relaxed and something happened? Cooler heads might prevent stupid measures from being put in place but this problem makes it almost impossible to remove them leading to security theater inflation.

    I don’t believe a Gore victory in 2000 (insert snide comment here) would have changed anything.

  13. In the next four years, get used to being sheep, while the pigs dress in finery and walk on their hind legs. Make that adoring, worshipful sheep. And like sheep, you’ll be sheared, and then the jihadis will have you for dinner. Poor sods.

  14. Wes Pruden in the Washington Times instantly spotted TSA as a “roust.” A roust, he explained, is what the authorities do to inconvenience citizens to convince them something is being done about a problem when there’s nothing that can be done.

    {FM note: “Not much security, but rousting is fun.”, Washington Times, 1 January 2002 — See this copy.}

  15. “Americans are rapidly becoming accustomed to Soviet-style surveillance…”


    But that probably does a dis-service to “Soviet-style surveillance.” In all honesty I doubt very strongly that the USA is anything but kindergarten regarding 50s – 70s human “Soviet-style surveillance.”
    Fabius Maximus replies: Think directionally. The future is largely made by the trends of today.

  16. #1 gpanfile: Your post: “Keep’em scared and you can do anything” kind of sums up the entire Cheney/Rove political strategy from 2002 onward. That it worked for awhile is distressing, but clearly it did not in the past two elections.

    First, fear has always been used by politicians. Any review of history will show this.

    Second, Obama used this too, but he used “fear of a third term of Bush,” if McCain won, knowing how the sheeple had been affected by all the media about how horrible Bush was as POTUS.

    Also, the mouthpiece of Obama’s campaign, the MSM, pilloried Palin beyond all measure (exacerbated by the left-wing blogosphere): she’s one heartbeat away from the Presidency! She’ll ban books, prevent abortions, and she’s such an idiot she doesn’t know Africa’s not a country!

    As the old saying goes, you don’t need to look beyond your own nose to find what smells.

  17. Something that is rarely mentioned, when talking about useless security, is the nonsensical restriction of citizens from various landmarks and facilities. I do a lot of birdwatching and since 9-11 have run up against some infurtiating and useless limits.

    Some of the best winter birdwatching on the east coast can be done from the “islands” of the Cheasapeake Bay Bridge tunnel. Before 9-11 you could request a letter from the tunnel authority to access the islands. Now, however, you must hire a policeman to accompany you to the island. What makes this so ridiculous is that one of the islands has public parking, fishing, and a restaurant. There are no restrictions on access.

    But the part that reduces it to theater, is that it is probably physically impossible to damage the tunnels from a position on top of the thousands of tons of rock and concrete that forms the roof of the tunnel. It would be much more damaging to drive some sort of truck bomb into the tunnel. Something that none of this new security could stop in any way.

    Ridiculous access restrictions and rules like this also apply to many dams in the US now. Rules that make no sense and wouldn’t stop a determined terrorist anyway.

    The problem is who do you complain to when you run up against these restrictions. The 18 year old that tells you that you can’t walk out on top of Flaming Gorge dam any more with a camera or binoculars, the ranger at the site, the unknown bureaucrat that made the decision? So the decisions are made, and we go along. Not sure what else to do.

  18. I don’t believe this is a partisan issue. Rail at Bush/Cheney/Rove all you want, but I haven’t heard the Democrat Party saying anything either. We’ll see if this changes under Obama but this was not an issue he mentioned in his campaign, was it?

    This is theatre, as we can see by the obvious counter-profiling that goes on, but also it is just more Government excess and another make-work program. Note the kind of employees (not all) that seem to gravitate toward these jobs. You have to be an automaton, and I’m sure the job is boring, thankless and will make you begin to hate people. In fact I think many become sadistic out of boredom and being forced themselves to do stupid things repeatedly.

    There is also a distinct class difference happening. Minimum wage inner-city workers vs. airline travelers who skew more affluent not a good combination.

    I feel like i am living in a totalitarian State whenever I am at an airport even when just picking someone up.

    Also think about the amount of productivity our country loses because of these security lines. Everyone who flies loses probably one and a half hours of productive time.

    It is scary how readily people are willing to give up their rights and their dignity.

  19. You didn’t hear of too many issues with hijacking of airliners back in the 50’s and 60’s when anyone could just walk onto their flight with a firearm. Hunters going on safari to Africa would routinely carry their prized rifles with them into the passenger compartment, and nothing ever came of it.

    Now you have the TSA (Thousands Standing Around as many detractors call it) giving you the “hairy eyeball” as you walk through the metal detector with your shoes off, holding your pants up because you had to take your belt off. You can’t even bring a factory sealed bottle of water on the plane; instead you have to buy the same bottle of water for 3 times as much on the sterile side of the line. They confiscate baby formula and breast milk (“http://thelactivist.blogspot.com/2007/03/tsa-breast-milk-debacle.html”) and god forbid if you gentlemen or ladies have “jewelry” adorning your secret parts, or you gals have an underwire bra (“http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/08/25/BA2812HVK3.DTL&tsp=1”) while trying to navigate the metal detectors.

    Now you know why I take the train…

  20. I agree that the growth of the security state needn’t be driven by a sinister master plan. Government power tends to grow unless explicitly monitored and restrained.

    When discussing security theater, let’s not forget our kinder, gentler American gulag–and the guards, lawyers, police, therapists, social workers et al who make a comfortable living in it.

  21. Never ascribe to evil what can be explained by incompetence.

    Security theater definitely exists, but at this point it has more do with justifying a budget and owning turf than with any coordinated plan. Anytime there is a real emergency a bureaucracy will implement plans to “do something”; they do this in response to pressure from their superiors. Over time the demands or perceived demands of their superiors become the reason for the response; rather than the original emergency, so the response becomes tailored to the demands rather than the emergency. As Heinlein observed, “a committee is the only know life form with six bellies and no brain” – this statement can be extended to any bureaucracy.

    Fabius – in regard to extending trends – we don’t know which trends will predominate. I could for example, point to this and other libertarian leaning blogs and state that the explosion in libertarian publications since 1990 conclusively proves that our society is moving in that direction. It is at least as important to provide support for trends you agree with as it is to sound the alarm on trends you abhor; and I suspect more productive in the long run. Otherwise, you’re just doing what you’re concerned about in this post.

  22. 1. I’ve spent 30 years as an employee of the US Department of Defense, and conspiracy theorists always make me laugh. Sorry, folks, I know it’s comforting to your paranoid little brains to think we’re out to get you, but the truth is, we’re just not that smart.

    2. Every time I deal with TSA, I’m convinced that somewhere there’s a Walmart that’s understaffed.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I don’t believe you understand the discussion. As mentioned before, institutions evolve over time in ways unanticipated — often undesired — by the people who comprise them. That’s a basic of history, known for many centuries.

  23. yz@12 — is onto something. Remember how after 9/11 everyone was howling that the hijackers had been able to get through security so easily. The “people” and the media demanded that the government do something. Anything! Airports would have to be safer. And so we have TSA. No matter that it really isn’t useful(at least we don’t think it is, we really don’t know that) and thousands of other targets exist. Something was done. And if something hadn’t been done and there had been another hijacking then the people and media would have howled all the more. The FDA example is a great one — slow down drug approval and we scream that needed drugs aren’t released quickly enough. Speed it up and we claim they are not tested for long enough and sue, sue, sue when there is a problem. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. It’s a security vs freedom/risk argument — and right now the pendulum has swung toward security. I blame long lifespans. When life was short and death was a frequent part of it — we didn’t expect life to last long and were willing to accept more risk. Now that we have more life, we have more years to lose and are less willing to risk it. (And yes there are numerous exceptions to this statement but I am attempting to describe the trend of society, not each individual)

  24. The only time security measures become pure theater is when there is no actual threat. Certainly some security measures are more effective than others, and some are mainly to provide reassurance, such as NYC Subway baggage checks, but that has value as well. The process of reasoning that concludes that because a security measure may not be completely effective it therefore must have some nefarious purpose is laughable.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Did you read any of the supporting links? Many of these measures are of zero effectiveness, but have large costs — both in dollars and citizen time and inconvenience.

  25. Does anyone other than me notice the irony of this discussion? Here we are decrying the voices that are supposedly ‘keeping us scared’ by inventing stories to keep ourselves scared? Instead of seeing bureacratic ineptitude, we are busy inventing conspiracies about malign theaters, dark attempts at mass social conditioning, and slippery slopes that make us equivalent to the U.S.S.R.

    My built in BS detector tends to ping just a little whenever I see an argument that humans are in fact sheep or being trained to be sheep, and likewise goes off at any mention of their being a culture of fear. If your argument requires denigrating the ‘unenlightened masses’ then it probably needs to be examined a few more times.

    People are no easier to herd than cats and Americans even more so than usual, and if there has been some sort of concerted attempt to intimidate me then its a dismal failure because I haven’t noticed it. It is an open question whether or not we would be better or worse off if an actual culture of fear existed – as web posts like this one intended to generate, generously let’s call it ‘caution’, demonstrate – but I think its pretty darn obvious that no widespread culture of fear in fact exists nor has existed even in the troubling last 7 years. Probably nothing so irritates the pundits on either side as their inability to make the middle panic over this thing or the other from islamic terrorism to security theater at the TSA, but the fact of the matter is that on the whole most people don’t care and even among the pundits there is little sign that they consider their fears any more than a game with a satisfactory emotional payoff.

    Security theater definately exists and I’m generally oppossed to it (mostly as a waste of resources), but that’s about as far as I would take that line of thought.

  26. “Similarly, the real motive for using the bomb on Japan was not winning that war but intimidating the rest of the world.”

    Such a clear, anti-American fantasy is sad to see anywhere.

    First, the goal of the war was to win: Unconditional Surrender. That was NOT achieved in WW I, and look what happened … so that was the US policy.
    Second, the Japanese were ‘never’ going to surrender … without an invasion. Estimated loss of life (based on Iwo Jima and other experience in fighting Japs who were dug into defensive position): ~ 1 million American lives.

    Given the first goal, the decision to drop the bomb wasn’t too hard — and seems, in retrospect, better than additional Dresden like firebombing of Tokyo, Kyoto, etc. Actually with far less total loss of Japanese life, even.

  27. What makes this all even more frustrating is that the best defense against terrorism and asymmetric warfare is to maintain decentralized systems, individual control and autonomy, and personal responsibility. While you could make the argument in the past that in wartime governments needed the people to line up and march in lockstep, today the opposite is true. Concentrated power gives terrorists targets to hit. Concentrated control can never protect a free nation full of soft targets.

    In the age of terrorism, we are better off in the country and suburbs than in the city. We are better off in individual cars than in mass transit. We are better off if we are personally armed and willing to defend ourselves than if we cede our defense to the state. We are better off making our own decisions than allowing central planners to make them for us. We’re better off as a nation of autonomous, connected individuals exercising local authority.

    All of these things run counter to the core beliefs of liberalism.

  28. #26-It’s very self-satisfying to describe anyone who has the temerity to disagree with us as being “sheep” or being deluded by “fear”.

  29. Are the Russian people “sheep”? The Germans, Japanese, Chinese? Who will describe the Viet Cong as sheep? Americans are not sheep either. And by the way, who turned the sheep into what we call “sheep”? You know who and why is it that the shepherd is considered a noble soul?

  30. “Keep’em scared and you can do anything”
    Welcome to the American politics of the 21st century. Global warming, Nuclear power, all fits the bill as well as terrorism. The news media also practices this to maintain ratings! Much of our insecurity is do to us, the public, not thinking things through.
    Does the TSA need to exist if we profile? Probably not.
    If some fanatic hops on board with a box cutter after 9/11 will he succeed? He will be lucky to make it to the ground alive!
    If we have a chance to think then we see this stuff for what it is. Look what I’m doing for you and CYA! No conspiracy needed.

  31. I’ve seen Obama cowed by only one thing – that he might get caught smoking. Again. When Dame Hillary declared the White House ‘off limits’ for smoking, hubby showed her what he thought of that by abusing a perfectly good cigar. Every time the “safety paper” on my smoke flakes off and singes the hair on my arm I’m reminded of when we started to bleat.

    There seems to be a theme to our theater of the absurd which revolves around transportation and interstate commerce; start at 55MPH and then coast downhill, no herding necessary.

    Self deluded #26? You just keep peddling and see if you don’t get there.

  32. I don’t know, I used to go to the post office back in the eighties, and while I stood in line watching the employees do everything but drool, I thought to myself,”What a great service these guys provide. Our own little slice of Poland right here in America. Without this, we could never understand what Poles endure to buy meat.” I think the same way now when I go to the airport. An object lesson on the importance of keeping government out of our lives. How can we flirt with the notion of government run health care when this is going on right before us?

  33. I simply don’t fly any longer. I simply will not put up with the BS. Driving takes longer, but I have the satisfaction of knowing I’m emitting more atmospheric carbon while paying less for the privilege.

  34. Oh, my friends, you have seen nothing yet. We are on the threshold of a security theatre the likes of which you have never seen. Buckle up!!!

  35. Lightnin' Hopkins

    The biggest fear mongering fraud in our culture? The craven Left’s global warming, with crass manipulation, finger pointing, power grabs and brow beating of the populace that would make Goebbels blush.

  36. The cure for security theater is education. The best point of education is right at the end of the airport security line when people still have their shoes off and they’re at maximum discomfort. To find out at that point that what they’ve gone through is pointless security theater, be provided with a method of protesting the theater and in favor of better security, and encouraged to act responsibly would be the best cure.

    Setting up a flyer that can safely and responsibly be distributed at the far end is a task for one activist. Setting up an activist education website on how to handle the various use cases (what to do when the TSA violates your rights by confiscating your flyers, etc) could be handled by a small web development team. Xeroxing up a hundred and showing up an hour before your flight going out of O’hare to hand them out is something any traveler can do.

    Wake up people, the sheep thing is not a particularly hard problem to fix.

  37. “People are no easier to herd than cats and Americans even more so than usual, and if there has been some sort of concerted attempt to intimidate me then its a dismal failure because I haven’t noticed it.”

    Celebrim, you say that you have not even noticed the rather grim, often absurd, and usually completely counterproductive curtailments to civil liberties that have been instituted over the past eight years. In my mind, this actually points to the effectiveness of ‘security theatre’, and the cult of ‘security’ which has sprung up around “the War on Terror”. The state surveilling you, and you not even noticing it, is probably their aim.

  38. “Keep’em scared and you can do anything” kind of sums up the entire Cheney/Rove political strategy from 2002 onward.

    “Keep’em scared and you can do anything” kind of sums up the entire Clinton/Carville political strategy from 1995 onward.

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