STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
To Calm TSA Furor, Revisit War on Terror
By Staff News & Analysis - November 24, 2010

Head of TSA urges travelers to not opt out of new security measures … The head of the Transportation Safety Administration will be in airports across the country during the holiday season. That's because he's in a new public service announcement urging travelers to cooperate with enhanced security measures. The TSA wants to make sure the busiest travel time of the year doesn't get even busier. In a new public service announcement, TSA head John Pistole is urging passengers at airports nationwide to support tougher new security measures. "We very much appreciate your involvement, cooperation, and assistance in ensuring the safety of you the traveling public," Pistole says in the new PSA. – WNCT

Dominant Social Theme: No need to opt out. Please cooperate.

Free-Market Analysis: The furor surrounding the TSA's enhanced security measures continues to grow and yesterday, as this article was being written, TSA personnel were pleading with the traveling public (the TSA's self-proclaimed "customers") not to protest the TSA's enhanced security pat downs and the backscatter scanning equipment that has been put in place. But in this article we want to examine why the TSA's pleading is not especially effective and why it ought to take into account larger questions about terrorism's 21st century genesis.

We think in fact that there is an underlying skepticism about the war on terror itself that the mainstream media (and the TSA) is not acknowledging. Until the larger issues are addressed and resolved, we would venture that resentment against increased security tactics will continue to grow. Certainly, there is no doubt that anger has grown over the more invasive security measures and hints that these measures may be expanded to railroads and shipping facilities are not making the environment any calmer.

In fact, it seems to us that Western powers-that-be are generating an increasing authoritarian civic environment both in the US and Europe. It is one analogous to what happens in only the most repressive countries – where one cannot travel freely without being subject to invasive security. These are important issues and have rightly received attention from TSA spokespeople who have tried to calm the furor as best they can – though likely their efforts are not enough.

It is true, polls have been cited by the mainstream media claiming that up to 80 percent of the flying public supports the enhanced airport security, but we question those numbers as do many others – even within the mainstream media itself. For us, the TSA's pleadings, when viewed from this perspective, begin to resemble a dominant social theme; a promotion of sorts designed to remind people about larger issues that justify current security measures, even though many of these issues remain murky and unclear.

TSA officials maintain for instance that they are dedicated to security measures that are the most effective with the least amount of invasiveness. We wonder how X-rays (there are certainly question about the safety of these scanners) and an aggressive putdowns can be applied in a way that is NOT invasive. There is certain level rigidity here that does not seem especially permeable to public pressure. In fact, the only area where we have detected any real nervousness has to do with today's "opt-out protest." TSA head John Pistole has made a number of statements in regard to the opt out, virtually pleading with the American public to forgo this sort of activity. We visited the opt-out site and found the following description:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 is NATIONAL OPT-OUT DAY! … It's the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government's desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an "enhanced pat down" that touches people's breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner. You should never have to explain to your children, "Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it's a government employee, then it's OK." The goal of National Opt Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent. This day is needed because many people do not understand what they consent to when choosing to fly.

To us, Pistole's pleadings follow a kind of pattern. It seems increasingly obvious that the powers-that-be mostly fear a generalized outbreak of public protest, civil or otherwise – whether it be in Europe over creeping "austerity" or in America over politics as usual (see the Tea Party) or the TSA's suddenly leveled enhanced security regime. The best way to defuse public tension is our opinion is to make a commitment to more openness in government so people can better understand the policies being put in place.

In our humble opinion, the way to begin a more open era of transparency and good faith is by addressing the lingering – and growing – questions about the larger war on terror itself. To do this properly, we believe one needs to re-examine 9/11 as well as the subsequent terror events and serial wars in which the West is now embroiled, seemingly without end. These are the issues that have brought America and the West to the current pass, and more thorough vetting of underlying questions would surely increase public confidence and overall cooperation on a variety of fronts.

We certainly do not pretend to know what happened on 9/11 (nor is it our responsibility to present scenarios) but we (like many others) have noted numerous inconsistencies with the official story and as time goes on, additional questions are raised. Ordinarily, we believe, questions would have subsided by now, but the Internet itself, which is a process not an episode, continues to re-raise the same issues and actually adds to them over time.

So many anomalies … The great technology-intensive cave-complexes from which bin Laden was said to operate were never discovered – and bin Laden himself disavowed 9/11. There is still no explanation (that we know of) as to how passengers were able to call loved ones from cell phones that were not technologically capable of such calls until years later. (In-plane phones were apparently not up to the task either, or not installed.) Additionally, several members of the 9/11 committee that investigated the attacks have disavowed its conclusions and claimed they were serially lied to by the Bush administration, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies – for reasons yet to be determined.

Then there is the question of building 7, which collapsed without being hit by a plane. Numerous architects and engineers have now signed a petition asking the federal government to reopen a 9/11 investigation and their requests were featured recently on a program with Geraldo Rivera of FOX.

The reason establishing what really happened on 9/11 is important is because so much has flowed from it. The entire war on terror, which has cost thousands of Western/NATO lives and apparently hundreds of thousands of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan is a direct result of 9/11. The militarization of Western civil society has also been a result of 9/11, including the apparent suspension of habeas corpus in the US and the invoking of torture and rendition as an acceptable policy of the Anglosphere for purposes of self defense.

As far as the wars themselves go, they seem to us to be incredibly costly and at the same time not at all cost-effective. Even after a decade, the West is unable to disengage from these serial wars and NATO's mission, which used to be protecting Europe from Russia, has begun to suffer from mission creep and is now said to be focused on protecting the West (including Russia) from terrorism. At the same time, there are significant questions about the terrorists attacks that have subsequently taken place in the West. There is a good deal of confusion over attacks in Britain and even Indonesia after 9/11. The same can be said for various attempted attacks on airplanes by Muslim terrorists and even for attacks on the American "homeland."

Almost inevitably when one closely examines these attacks, at least some of them, there are apocryphal indications that Western intelligence was involved in parts of the initial planning and even in facilitating the ultimate (potential) violence. The explanation of course is that these operations have been penetrated, and that is the reason for intel involvement. But to anyone who examines such episodes in depth, these explanations are more persuasive in some instances than others. In pre-war Germany, the threat of communism served as a pretext to remove German freedoms. Today, the US patriot community in particular is making the argument that the West is repeating this sad history using the war on terror.

The TSA continually refers to terrorist activity as a justification for what is going on, but as we have just pointed out, there are so many questions surrounding 9/11 itself and the subsequent war on terror that in our humble opinion the only responsible thing to do is to halt the current "security creep" in favor of above-board, transparent reviews of all the pertinent facts related to various terrorist scenarios beginning with 9/11.

After Thoughts

The alternative, in our view, is continued and eventually aggravated civil protest. In the Internet era (unlike the 20th century) questions simply do not go away; inconvenient facts cannot be swept under the rug. We have noted a great many sincere statements by European, British and American politicians about keeping citizens safe from harm in an era of rising Islamic activism. But what Pistole's comments show us yet again is that the powers-that-be are allergic to civil protest, even lawful protests. With so much emotion swirling about these issues, and so many unresolved questions, we would argue that sunshine is the best disinfectant.

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