Psywar: We are the dog that they wag

Psywar is a brand new documentary film that I believe is a potential game-changer, in that it is presented in such a way as to be palatable to someone who is new to, and even resistant to the idea that there has been a coordinated effort to herd the citizenry of the U.S. into needless wars that only benefit a tiny fraction of the population, otherwise known as “the elite.”

“If it is your desire to understand how we are manipulated into believing the things we do — watch this film. Every American should see it…for the sake of our future.”

~Timothy Gatto, fmr Chairman, Liberal Party of America

Trailer:

Please watch the entire film here:

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Welcome to Amerika: Full-Body Scan Technology Deployed In Street-Roving Vans

Who DOESN’T want to be x-rayed, without notification, while doing nothing more than walking down the fucking street?

If America wasn’t already fucking over, then it certainly is now.

Welcome to Amerika.

Full-Body Scan Technology Deployed In Street-Roving Vans
Andy Greenberg
Aug. 24 2010 – 12:00 pm

As the privacy controversy around full-body security scans begins to simmer, it’s worth noting that courthouses and airport security checkpoints aren’t the only places where backscatter x-ray vision is being deployed. The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets.

American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, 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 to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.

“This product is now the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,” says Reiss.

Here’s a video of the vans in action.

The Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs, as the company calls them, bounce a narrow stream of x-rays off and through nearby objects, and read which ones come back. Absorbed rays indicate dense material such as steel. Scattered rays indicate less-dense objects that can include explosives, drugs, or human bodies. That capability makes them powerful tools for security, law enforcement, and border control.

It would also seem to make the vans mobile versions of the same scanning technique that’s riled privacy advocates as it’s been deployed in airports around the country. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is currently suing the DHS to stop airport deployments of the backscatter scanners, which can reveal detailed images of human bodies. (Just how much detail became clear last May, when TSA employee Rolando Negrin was charged with assaulting a coworker who made jokes about the size of Negrin’s genitalia after Negrin received a full-body scan.)

“It’s no surprise that goverments and vendors are very enthusiastic about [the vans],” says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC. “But from a privacy perspective, it’s one of the most intrusive technologies conceivable.”

AS&E’s Reiss counters privacy critics by pointing out that the ZBV scans don’t capture nearly as much detail of human bodies as their airport counterparts. The company’s marketing materials say that its “primary purpose is to image vehicles and their contents,” and that “the system cannot be used to identify an individual, or the race, sex or age of the person.”

Though Reiss admits that the systems “to a large degree will penetrate clothing,” he points to the lack of features in images of humans like the one shown at right, far less detail than is obtained from the airport scans. “From a privacy standpoint, I’m hard-pressed to see what the concern or objection could be,” he says.

But EPIC’s Rotenberg says that the scans, like those in the airport, potentially violate the fourth amendment. “Without a warrant, the government doesn’t have a right to peer beneath your clothes without probable cause,” he says. Even airport scans are typically used only as a secondary security measure, he points out. “If the scans can only be used in exceptional cases in airports, the idea that they can be used routinely on city streets is a very hard argument to make.”

The TSA’s official policy dictates that full-body scans must be viewed in a separate room from any guards dealing directly with subjects of the scans, and that the scanners won’t save any images. Just what sort of safeguards might be in place for AS&E’s scanning vans isn’t clear, given that the company won’t reveal just which law enforcement agencies, organizations within the DHS, or foreign governments have purchased the equipment. Reiss says AS&E has customers on “all continents except Antarctica.”

Reiss adds that the vans do have the capability of storing images. “Sometimes customers need to save images for evidentiary reasons,” he says. “We do what our customers need.”

2/3 of Americans are apparently freaking idiots

As usual, Arthur Silber is right on the money.

Damn It: For Once, Obama (Briefly) Happened to be Right

Arthur Silber

To begin, I’ve said over and over and over that Obama is a war criminal. As I also often say, it’s not an arguable point. Read this damned post. Read this one, too. If you wish to be minimally consistent, if you want to apply to the U.S. and its leaders the same standards and principles that the U.S. applies to everyone else, then Obama (and Biden, and McCain, and Bush, and Cheney, and Hillary Clinton, and Condoleezza Rice, etc., etc., etc.) are war criminals.

It is also the case that even war criminals can make a statement that happens to be true. That doesn’t mean they cease being war criminals, or that we should loathe them less or, may the heavens forbid, admire them in the slightest degree. It means only that in this one instance, they happen to be right.

As is the case with Obama’s comments about the “mosque” being proposed for the neighborhood of Ground Zero:

Obama himself had steered clear of the issue for weeks, with his spokesman Robert Gibbs telling reporters that it was primarily a local issue. But at a Friday White House Iftar dinner, Obama said that while he understands Ground Zero is “hallowed ground,” he told a group of Muslims that he believes they have “the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in the country.”

“And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.”

The part I highlighted is especially crucial, and what Obama said is absolutely correct.

He’s still a war criminal.

On the subject of the “mosque,” Tom Knapp explains the two huge lies at the center of this invented controversy with admirable clarity. It’s not a “mosque” using the commonly understood meaning of that term, and it’s not planned to be built on Ground Zero. Knapp includes a little Google Map so you can see that it’s not on Ground Zero. As Knapp also points out (he doesn’t phrase it this way, because he’s far more polite than I am), if you want to be consistent in your opposition to the “mosque,” get rid of the goddamned Roman Catholic Church that’s even closer to Ground Zero than the planned Cordoba House. (I put goddamned in there just to be certain that any unsuspecting passersby are deeply offended, as well as irreparably damaged. At least, I hope they’re irreparably damaged.)

Not a mosque. Not on Ground Zero. Therefore, no controversy.

Unless, that is, you’re a vicious bigot. I’m not going to set out (again) a detailed argument about why you have to be a vicious bigot to be vehemently opposed to building a “mosque” on Ground Zero. One fact tells you a lot about those so strongly opposed to this proposal right off the bat: that they insist on speaking about a “mosque” being built on Ground Zero. Their refusal to give up these two fundamental lies tells you a great deal.

Beyond that, opposition to this project finally reduces to unreasoning, blind, notably vicious racism — of the kind I’ve previously analyzed here and here. It’s a sickening subject, and I don’t care to revisit it in detail at the moment. But I will note that the second linked post explains how this racism has been at the very heart of U.S. foreign policy for more than a century. Little wonder then that those who so strongly oppose the “mosque” are the same people who so profoundly support a foreign policy of aggressive, violent, non-stop interventionism, using brutality and murder to impose “civilization” on “inferior” cultures and peoples (the last point being an issue I discussed recently in my series on Wikileaks).

I want to mention two other aspects of this story. First, there’s this:

Several New York Democrats either involved with members of Congress or strategists said privately that they are not happy about the speech because it puts them in a bind. A recent CNN poll found two-thirds of Americans oppose building the mosque in the neighborhood around Ground Zero.

Ah, the voice of the people!

The people are an ignorant ass.

You have to admit that, in a sick, twisted kind of way, this is very damned funny. Here you have a country that endlessly proclaims its dedication to individual rights. But when controversies like this arise — make that: especially when controversies like this arise — people’s immediate argument of choice is to appeal to public opinion polls. Two-thirds of Americans agree with me!

That is: two-thirds of Americans are profoundly ignorant and/or vicious bigots.

An idiotic majority of people who are mostly idiots agree with me! That means it’s the right position! Now there’s a foundation for government action and State planning, especially for a nation dedicated to individual rights.

Fuck, people. I mean, fuck. Can’t you do any better? I’ve been over this particular ground before, too: see here. The joke is even better when “libertarians” use polls as alleged support for their positions. Teh funnee! As that earlier post noted, “libertarians” use public opinion polls to support discriminatory, blatantly racist immigration laws. Hmm, racism again. Doctor Watson, I detect a theme here! That earlier post also mentions that almost three-quarters of Americans opposed racial intermarriage — one year after the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws. At least one branch of government doesn’t always bow down to the god of public opinion. Hardly coincidentally, I saw last week that Reynolds used a poll to impliedly demonstrate the “correctness” of the anti-“mosque” position. You can find it yourself, if you care. I guarantee you I read it — and he’d offered the identical “argument” for immigration laws, so why wouldn’t he? But I’ve read enough shit on this subject for several months at a minimum.

Hell: here you go. See? I’m a conscientious blogger. Does my masochism earn your admiration? It damn well better. And note that all those “good” Americans oppose “the Ground Zero mosque.” Ignorant bigots opining about lies! I’m convinced!

The other issue which is appallingly clear in the Politico story is the rapidity and determination with which the Democrats run away from anything which might however remotely be viewed as negative in strictly political terms, that is, with regard to getting votes this fall. Never mind that an issue of very significant political principle is involved: the Democrats will do and say anything to get elected and keep their majorities.

So Obama is already scrambling to undo any undesirable effects of his comments yesterday: “President Barack Obama on Saturday sought to defuse the controversy over his remarks …,” and “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” and so on. O brave Obama!

The Democrats are, as always, a nauseating collection of unprincipled creeps. Martin Frost: “While a defensible position, it will not play well in the parts of the country where Democrats need the most help.” It’s not “a defensible position.” What Obama said yesterday is the right position, and it’s the only right position on this question.

More from the Politico story:

Democratic aides say that, at the very least, the president has again knocked his party’s candidates off local messages and forced them to talk about a national issue that doesn’t appear likely to play well with important swing voters.

“The main reaction is ‘Why? Why now?’” said one House Democratic leadership aide. “It’s just another day off message. There have been a lot of days off message.”

The chief of staff to one politically vulnerable House Democrat said it “probably alienates a lot of independent voters” and “it’s not a good issue to be talking about right now.”

He said he suspects “there are a lot of (Democrats) who are spooked in tough districts today” and “a lot of Republicans licking their chops right now.”

On and on it goes. If you’re a masochist, too, read the whole sorry article.

Keep in mind one critical distinction. When I say the Democrats are “unprincipled,” I mean only that they’re unprincipled with regard to what they claim their principles are. In fact, they’re not unprincipled at all. It’s just that the principles that actually concern them are not ones they care to identify to anyone else, least of all to voters.

For the past century, and despite some differences on derivative issues, the Democrats and Republicans have been in full agreement on the fundamentals. Both Democrats and Republicans want an authoritarian-corporatist-militarist state, just as they both want a constantly increasing surveillance state. I’ve been over these issues in numerous articles (here, here, here, follow the internal links for much more).

This episode involving the “mosque” also brings into clearer focus a point that I and others have been making for some time. If, God forbid, there is another terrorist attack on U.S. soil which is the equivalent of 9/11 or even worse, you can kiss good-bye whatever liberties you might believe remain to you. They’ll be entirely gone, almost certainly for the rest of your lifetime at a minimum.

The worst thing of all is that, in the wake of such an attack — if five or ten thousand Americans are dead, or possibly even more (and as I said, God forbid, and Christ knows I mean it, for this and countless other reasons) — a majority of Americans will probably be glad to have a far more brazenly dictatorial government. At that point, with the slaughter being endlessly replayed on every television network, the indefinite “detention” of anyone considered at all “suspicious,” the censoring of “dangerous,” possibly “terrorist-related” material (including blogs), the complete suspension of the right to assembly, etc. ad nauseam, will be what the majority of Americans want. The politicians, both Democratic and Republican, will be more than happy to give it to them.

A year or two later, some Americans will begin to have regrets. A few will timidly venture the opinion that perhaps we went “too far.” Then, it won’t matter. Then, it will be far, far too late.

The ruling class, including almost every Democrat and Republican in Washington, know that, too. They’ll probably even provide opportunities for a few “dissenters” to make their objections known, so Americans can continue to tell themselves that the First Amendment still exists and continues to have some meaning. The ruling class is expert at meaningless charades of that kind.

But life as you’ve known it, as you believe it to be, will be entirely dead. In fact, it’s dead now. The Obama administration already claims it has the “right” to murder anyone in the world for any reason at all. You can’t get more dead than that.

You don’t smell the rotting corpse yet. That’s all.

Well. That wasn’t cheerful in the least, especially for a weekend. Sorry about that.

There is one thing you can do: withdraw your support for an evil system of this kind, in every way possible (and I do mean every way possible). Wikileaks provides you a wonderful model for doing so; as I discussed in the final section of this article, Julian Assange has shown that when you withdraw your support, those who would rule us have nothing.

And as I mentioned in the concluding paragraphs here, imagine a world with ten, or even a hundred, Wikileaks organizations. I was discussing that possibility with some friends recently and remarked: Then we might finally get somewhere!

Goddamn, yes. As one of my friends said in response: The many Wikileaks world! There’s an idea to cheer you up.

UPDATE: In an Update to his own post about this, Lambert links to this entry, noting that the Cordoba Center is not, in fact, a “mosque,” and goes on to say: “Personally, I don’t care if it’s the Islamic equivalent of St. Peter’s.”

I almost added a sentence to my original post to this effect: “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t give a damn if someone were to build a gigantic actual mosque right in the damned middle of Ground Zero.” I didn’t say that, simply because that’s not this controversy which, as demonstrated above and in Knapp’s post, is built on nothing but lies combined with primitive racism. (And I’ve said it now, so there you go. The miracle of blogging!)

But if someone were to propose building a gigantic actual mosque right smack in the middle of Ground Zero, let’s have that debate! I would welcome it. And given the U.S. government’s ongoing campaign of slaughter and destruction targeted at Muslims in various locations around the world, a real mosque at Ground Zero would be a serious gesture of reconciliation, if that word were finally to have some genuine meaning. Of course, the action that would be most meaningful, as well as most humane and entirely right, would be the complete cessation of that campaign of slaughter and destruction…

But, God, I wish a real mosque at Ground Zero would happen, or even be proposed. Just think of all the racist, bigoted heads exploding…

Tsunami bomb: NZ’s devastating war secret

Wait, we were trying to create a Tusnami bomb at the end of WWII????

Well thankfully, the incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made such a diabolical weapon unnecessary.  And don’t worry, I’m certain that the plans for the tsunami bomb were dropped immediately and never picked up again.

Ever.

Tsunami bomb: NZ’s devastating war secret

By Eugene Bingham

5:01 AM Saturday Sep 25, 1999

Top-secret wartime experiments were conducted off the coast of Auckland to perfect a tidal wave bomb, declassified files reveal.

An Auckland University professor seconded to the Army set off a series of underwater explosions triggering mini-tidal waves at Whangaparaoa in 1944 and 1945.

Professor Thomas Leech’s work was considered so significant that United States defence chiefs said that if the project had been completed before the end of the war it could have played a role as effective as that of the atom bomb.

Details of the tsunami bomb, known as Project Seal, are contained in 53-year-old documents released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Papers stamped “top secret” show the US and British military were eager for Seal to be developed in the post-war years too. They even considered sending Professor Leech to Bikini Atoll to view the US nuclear tests and see if they had any application to his work.

He did not make the visit, although a member of the US board of assessors of atomic tests, Dr Karl Compton, was sent to New Zealand.

“Dr Compton is impressed with Professor Leech’s deductions on the Seal project and is prepared to recommend to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that all technical data from the test relevant to the Seal project should be made available to the New Zealand Government for further study by Professor Leech,” said a July 1946 letter from Washington to Wellington.

Professor Leech, who died in his native Australia in 1973, was the university’s dean of engineering from 1940 to 1950.

News of his being awarded a CBE in 1947 for research on a weapon led to speculation in newspapers around the world about what was being developed.

Though high-ranking New Zealand and US officers spoke out in support of the research, no details of it were released because the work was on-going.

A former colleague of Professor Leech, Neil Kirton, told the Weekend Herald that the experiments involved laying a pattern of explosives underwater to create a tsunami.

Small-scale explosions were carried out in the Pacific and off Whangaparaoa, which at the time was controlled by the Army.

It is unclear what happened to Project Seal once the final report was forwarded to Wellington Defence Headquarters late in the 1940s.

The bomb was never tested on a full scale, and Mr Kirton doubts that Aucklanders would have noticed the trials.

“Whether it could ever be resurrected … Under some circumstances I think it could be devastating.”

Lame New World: Stress Vaccine?!?!

“And it seems to me perfectly in the cards that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing … a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda, brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods.”

~ Aldous Huxley

Jab that could put a stop to stress without slowing us down

Daily Mail

By Rachel Quigley
Last updated at 10:32 AM on 2nd August 2010

Forget the age-old remedies of yoga, meditation or popping pills. Relieving chronic stress could soon be as simple as having an injection, according to scientists.

Academics say they are close to developing the first vaccine for stress – a single jab that would help us relax without slowing down.

After 30 years of research into cures for stress, Dr Robert Sapolsky, professor of neuroscience at Stanford University in California, believes it is possible to alter brain chemistry to create a state of ‘focused calm’.

Professor Sapolsky claims he is on the path to a genetically engineered formula that would remove the need for relaxation therapies or prescription drugs.

Chronic stress, as opposed to everyday worries, is linked to illnesses ranging from diabetes to heart attacks. Professor Sapolsky, who first observed the damage caused by stress on animals in Kenya, has been studying hormones called glucocorticoids, which are part of the body’s immune system and help fight cancer and inflammation.

All mammals produce these hormones, which help them deal with a threat  –  often by running away.

But Professor Sapolsky has observed that, while a zebra will turn off the stress chemicals after escaping from a lion, modern man not only produces too many glucocorticoids in response to everyday alarms but cannot turn them off afterwards.

He says the hormone becomes toxic both biologically, by destroying brain cells and weakening the immune system, and socially, when people continue to snap at their friends or family hours after the original cause of tension has vanished.

After early setbacks, the Stanford team has adapted a herpes virus to carry engineered ‘neuroprotective’ genes deep into the brain to neutralise the rogue hormones before they can cause damage. The virus is now shown to work on rats.

‘To be honest, I’m still amazed that it works,’ Professor Sapolsky told Wired magazine recently.

He warned that human trials are years away, but added: ‘We have proved that it’s possible. We can reduce the neural damage caused by stress.’

Last week, a Stanford University colleague, who called the potential vaccine ‘the Sapolsky shot’, said: ‘In humans this engineered virus would short-circuit the neural feedback caused by stress, that lingering feeling of tension after a crisis has passed.

‘It would leave you fresher and ready to deal with another threat, so you can maintain your drive, but with more focused calm rather than bad temper and digestion.

‘This could change society.’ Professor Sapolsky’s preparatory work was published last October by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Of course, until the vaccine has been completed, those feeling overstretched will have to resort to more tried and tested methods.

Last week, Professor Sapolsky left Stanford to take his own ‘proven medicine’ for stress: He turned off his email and is spending August with his family.

Scannergate: Terror Scares A Boon for Security Grifters

This is from February, but it’s the perfect combination of informative and snark.

Scannergate: Terror Scares A Boon for Security Grifters

Antifascist Calling

Feb 20, 2010

Call them what you will: bottom feeders, corporate con-men, flim-flam artists, peddlers of crisis, you name it.

You can’t help but marvel how enterprising security firms have the uncanny ability to sniff-out new opportunities wherever they can find, or manufacture, them.

After all, nothing sells like fear and in “new normal” America fear is an industry with a limitless growth potential.

While Republicans and Democrats squabble over who’s “tougher” when it comes to invading and pillaging other nations (in the interest of “spreading democracy” mind you), a planetary grift dubbed the “War on Terror,” waiting in the wings are America’s new snake-oil salesmen.

Welcome to Scannergate!

With airport security all the rage, companies that manufacture whole body imaging technologies and body-scanners stand to make a bundle as a result of last December’s aborted attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

Like their kissin’ cousins at the Pentagon, poised to bag a $708 billion dollar windfall in the 2011 budget, securocrats over at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stand to vacuum-up some $56.3 billion next year, a $6 billion increase.

According to the agency’s February 1 budget announcement, funding requirements will prioritize “efforts to enhance security measures that protect against terrorism and other threats … reflecting the Department’s commitment to fiscal discipline and efficiency.”

In keeping with America’s unstoppable slide to the right, President Obama created a commission on Thursday by executive order promising to “fix” the yawning budget deficit by establishing–what else!–a “bipartisan fiscal commission.”

Promising to “slash” the deficit, by shredding the already-tattered social safety net, disemboweling programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Obama named former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles to lead the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, BusinessWeek reported.

According to the World Socialist Web Site, Simpson, a troglodytic right-winger, told The Washington Post, “How did we get to a point in America where you get to a certain age in life, regardless of net worth or income, and you’re ‘entitled’?” he asked. “The word itself is killing us.”

Bowles, a major fundraiser for the Clinton’s, is “currently on the board of directors of Morgan Stanley, one of the big five Wall Street investment houses” as well as a director of General Motors, socialist critic Patrick Martin informs us. Tellingly, “Bowles served as chairman of the compensation committee at both companies, and still holds that position at Morgan Stanley, making him the point man for the awarding of eight-figure salaries and bonuses to the executives of both companies,” Martin averred.

“Off the table,” are any proposals that would slash the Pentagon’s bloated budget or any of the other fiscal goodies financing the “War on Terror.”

Reflecting Homeland Security’s “fiscal discipline and responsibility,” at the top of the wish-list are what officials describe as increased spending for Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA).

In 2011, the Department says it is requesting $217.7M to “install 500 advanced imaging technology machines at airport checkpoints to detect dangerous materials, including non-metallic materials.”

“This request,” coupled “with planned deployments for 2010, will provide AIT coverage at 75 percent of Category X airports and 60 percent of the total lanes at Category X through II airports.”

Next up is a $218.9M demand for “Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to Staff AITs.” New funds are required for “additional TSOs, managers and associated support costs to operate AITs at airport checkpoints.”

You can’t have one without the other, so it’s a real job creator and win-win all around! Right? Well, not exactly…

Annals of Homeland Stupidity

As a secret state agency, TSA has proven itself so effective in protecting us from terrorists, especially the “homegrown” variety referred to in the literature as “clean skins,” that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit February 10 on behalf of Pomona College student Nicholas George.

According to the civil liberties’ watchdog group, George was “abusively interrogated, handcuffed and detained for nearly five hours at the Philadelphia International Airport,” by TSA, Philadelphia police and the FBI. His “crime”? George was kept prisoner because “of a set of English-Arabic flashcards he was carrying in connection with his college language studies.”

Ben Wizner, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in a press release: “Nick George was handcuffed, locked in a cell for hours and questioned about 9/11 simply because he has chosen to study Arabic, a language that is spoken by hundreds of millions of people around the world. This sort of harassment of innocent travelers is a waste of time and a violation of the Constitution.”

Memo to the ACLU: as is well known to Fox News viewers and Glenn Beck fans, only “terrorists” speak Arabic; ipso facto, George is a terrorist. How else explain his dubious interest in learning a language spoken by none other than Osama bin Laden himself!

But wait, there’s more!

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported February 15 that the four-year-old disabled son of a Camden, NJ police officer “wasn’t allowed to pass through airport security” until he took his leg braces off!

Inquirer columnist Daniel Rubin writes, “Ryan was taking his first flight, to Walt Disney World, for his fourth birthday.” Developmentally delayed, the result of his premature birth, the child had just starting walking in March.

After breaking down the stroller, the family passed through the metal detector when, ding! ding! ding! the alarm sounded. That’s when the screener told the family: either take off the leg braces or no Disney World for you, suckers.

Understandably, the family was “dumbfounded” by TSA’s insensitive behavior. Ryan’s father, Bob Thomas said, “I told them he can’t walk without them on his own.”

“He [the screener] said, ‘He’ll need to take them off’.”

Reluctantly, they complied and the family passed through, in single file. Mercifully, the child made it without falling.

Quite naturally, the parents were “furious.”

Rubin reports that after demanding to see a supervisor, one of TSA’s “finest” asked the couple “what was wrong.”

“I told him, ‘This is overkill. He’s 4 years old. I don’t think he’s a terrorist.'”

The supervisor told Bob Thomas and his wife, Leona, “You know why we’re doing this.”

(Yes, we know all-too-well why you’re “doing this.”)

Keeping Us “Safe”

Why does TSA need nearly a half billion dollars in taxpayer-funded largesse? Because “passenger screening is critical to detecting and preventing individual carrying dangerous or deadly objects from boarding planes,” grammar-challenged DHS securocrats inform us.

Right, it keeps us safe!

Wait a minute, didn’t Heimat Secretary Janet Napolitano tell CNN reporter Candy Crowley on the Sunday chat show “State on the Union” December 27 that “the system worked,” after a real terrorist, not a college kid or four-year-old, nearly brought down an airliner with a bomb hidden in his underwear?

Perhaps what Ms. Napolitano meant to say is that the system would have worked if TSA’s “Intelligence Community” partners over at the NCTC and CIA hadn’t allowed Abdulmutallab, a watch listed individual, to board Flight 253 on Christmas Day.

After all, as NCTC’s Director Michael E. Leiter testified January 20 before the Senate Homeland Security Committee they wanted him “here in the country for some reason or another.”

Wouldn’t it be reasonable then, to conclude that handing out even more boodle to corporate grifters won’t keep us any safer.

Heavens no!

On New Year’s eve, former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff penned a Washington Post op-ed that argued “whole-body imagers” should be deployed world-wide.

Countering critics who charge that said scanners are overly-intrusive and will do little or nothing to stop a determined individual from smuggling a liquid bomb onto a plane, Chertoff dismissed naysayers as uninformed Cassandras.

“From the outset” Chertoff declared, “deployment of the machines has been vigorously opposed by some groups.” Citing charges by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) that body-scanners amount to a virtual strip-search, Chertoff said such claims are “calculated to alarm the public.”

According to the former Bushist official, “it’s either pat downs or imaging.”

Currently TSA has fielded 40 machines at 19 airports with more on the way. Indeed, the agency handed out a $25 million contract last October to Rapiscan Security Systems for 30 more peep-show devices with funds generously provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

What Chertoff failed to disclose however, is that since leaving the secret state’s employ his security consulting firm, The Chertoff Group, “includes a client that manufactures the machines” according to The Washington Post.

Nevertheless, in the wake of the Christmas Day provocation, TSA announced in January “it will order 300 more machines.”

While Rapiscan was the only company to qualify for the contract “because it had developed technology that performs the screening using a less-graphic body imaging system,” the Post reports that the giant defense and security firm, L-3 Communications, have jogged onto the field and are eager to grab as much as they can.

Not everyone however, is enthralled with Chertoff’s shameless strategem to feather his own nest.

Kate Hanni, the founder of FlyersRights.org, which opposes scanner deployment told the Post, “Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive.”

Hanni wrote a blog post January 29, citing a 2005 study published by the Canadian Journal of Police & Security Services “that there is not one end-all, be-all way to prevent terrorists from smuggling explosives on board airliners.”

“The Rapiscan full-body scanner” is less than adequate when it comes to detecting liquid explosives, Hanni avers.

“In fact” she writes, “though it can depict a person’s unclothed body with shocking detail (a virtual strip search), it is capable of detecting only objects within one tenth of an inch of the outer skin on a human body. Translation: A terrorist who conceals explosives in a body cavity, crevice, adult diaper, feminine protection, etc., will walk through a full-body scanner completely undetected.”

But since “abusing the public trust” amounts to little more than business as usual in Washington, one can be reasonably certain that security grifters will make a killing exploiting America’s latest panic: the dreaded “body-scanner gap.”

Laughing All the Way to the Bank

To get the skinny on scanners however, one needs to refer to numerous investigative reports published in the press–the British press, that is.

The Independent on Sunday reported January 3, that the “explosive device smuggled in the clothing of the Detroit bomb suspect would not have been detected by body-scanners set to be introduced in British airports, an expert on the technology warned last night.”

Indeed, officials at the British Department of Transport and the Home Office “already tested the scanners and were not persuaded that they would work comprehensively against terrorist threats to aviation.”

Since December’s failed attack, TSA has touted the efficacy of deploying “millimeter-wave” whole body scanners that come with a hefty built-in price tag.

One security expert, Conservative MP Ben Wallace told IoS that scientists at the UK defense firm Qinetiq, a powerhouse in the “homeland security” market in Britain and the U.S., demonstrated that “the millimetre-wave scanners picked up shrapnel and heavy wax and metal, but plastic, chemicals and liquids were missed.”

“If a material is low density, such as powder, liquid or thin plastic–as well as the passenger’s clothing–the millimetre waves pass through and the object is not shown on screen,” journalist Jane Merrick informs us.

Wallace added, “X-ray scanners were also unlikely to have detected the Christmas Day bomb.”

Why then would TSA be so keen on such an enormous cash outlay for a technology with a less than sterling track record?

The Guardian reported January 18 that since the aborted attack, “investors have been quick to spot a rapid profit.”

Guardian correspondent Andrew Clark tells us that Michael Chertoff’s client, Rapiscan, “has seen its shares in its parent company, OSI Systems, leap by 27% since Christmas. American Science and Engineering, is up by 16% and has deployed its chief executive to have his own body scanned on live television.”

The Financial Times reported January 4, that Rapiscan’s “executive vice-president for global government affairs, said interest in the company’s full-body scanners, which are approved for use in the US, had been ‘extreme’.”

“We are spending a tremendous amount of time right now answering questions about production capacity, delivery capabilities and basically mapping out positioning in airports,” the executive told the Financial Times.

You bet they are!

Business analysts said that “installing scanners within the US could cost $300m–paid for, in part, by economic stimulus money.”

And, as American security officials strong-arm other nations into scanning passengers on U.S.-bound flights “the outlay could double internationally,” The Guardian averred.

Los Angeles-based Imperial Capital analyst Michael Kim told The Guardian, “We estimate that there are approximately 2,000 security lanes at US airports, each of which would require a body scanning machine if that’s the route the TSA chooses to take. Our information is that the cost of each scanner is around $150,000.”

But Rapiscan isn’t the only game in town and will soon be facing stiff competition from security giant L-3 Communications.

Clocking-in at No. 8 on Washington Technology’s “Top 100” list of prime federal contractors with some $4,236,653,555 in revenues, L-3 has entered the heimat market in a big way.

Heavily-leveraged in defense and security, major customers include the Defense Department, with contracts from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. While the firm’s business lines include C3ISR (Command, Control, Communication, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), L-3 provides extensive IT support to NSA on its illegal domestic surveillance and data mining programs.

L-3’s move has already proved to be a boon to shareholders. The Guardian reported that TSA has ordered “$165m-worth of scanners, using both millimetre and X-ray technology” from the firm.

While L-3 will reap a windfall from the American people, Government Accountability Office investigators reported in 2008 that the firm has 15 foreign subsidiaries in C3ISR powerhouses such as Barbados (1), Bermuda (1), Cayman Islands (1), Costa Rica (1), Hong Kong (1), Ireland (1), Singapore (5) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (3).

As Antifascist Calling revealed February 14, moving operations offshore helped defense contractors reduce taxes owed to federal and state governments by avoiding Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance payroll taxes for American workers hired by the foreign subsidiaries.

Another statistic the firm is probably not too keen on publicizing is their prominent place on the Project on Government Oversight’s (POGO) Federal Contractor Misconduct Database that tracks government contracts to firms “with histories of misconduct such as contract fraud and environmental, ethics, and labor violations.”

Listed at No. 7, POGO reports that L-3 has been fined some $43.2M for the “Misappropriation of Proprietary P-3 Aircraft Data; Fraudulent Overbilling on IT Support Services Contracts; False Claims (Iraq Reconstruction); Bribery (Baghdad, Iraq); Court Martial of a Civilian Contractor” and for the “Overbilling on Helicopter Maintenance Contracts in Iraq.”

Not that any of this matters to our corrupt representatives in Congress.

During the 2008 election cycle, L-3’s Political Action Committee handed-out some $603,839 to compliant officials in Washington, according to the Center for Responsive Politic’s OpenSecrets.org data base.

Democrats received the lion’s share of the boodle, bagging 64%, while Republicans nabbed only 34% of the firm’s congressional investments. Unsurprisingly, Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, scored $10,000 from the L-3 PAC.

In 2010, the campaign finance watchdogs report that the L-3 PAC is headed for a new record with $441,456 already on hand as of January 31, with 66% going to “change” Democrats and 33% to “conservative” Republicans.

All in all, L-3 is a perfect partner for DHS securocrats and congressional regulators, with House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Bennie Thompson (D-MS), pulling down $10,000 from L-3 to “keep us safe,” according to OpenSecrets.

No matter; billions in federal dollars are at stake for our corporatist masters. As is readily observable every day–from the bank bailout to the ongoing home foreclosure crisis, and from endless wars of aggression to massive domestic spying–the business of government, first, last and always, is business and the American people be damned.


Reminder: David Gregory is NOT on your side

I mentioned this here already, but it bears repeating; David Gregory, the moderator of Meet the Press, is not on your side.

Unless, that is, you’re part of the corporo-militarist power structure.  In that case, he’s got your back.  In fact, he’s one of your Fly Girls.

WARNING: The following video may induce vomiting.

Oh, and don’t miss the hysterically funny joke about Cheney shooting his hunting partner in the face at 00:38.  Admittedly, it’s not as side-splitting as these other White House Correspondent Dinner jokes, but it’s certainly close.