Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged DHS

The Department of Homeland Security has said it is looking for a device that could replace pat downs and still detect metal and explosives.

In a government document, the Department of Homeland Security said it seeks a hand-held device that weighs less than 5 pounds and can determine whether a hidden object on a passenger is a weapon or explosive. The device should produce a result in less than 15 seconds, the TSA request said.

Plan approval and testing could take at least a year. The request did not say how soon the device might show up at airports.

While airport security has become a lesson in massive overkill, a device such as this could actually ease the tension at the airports between the TSA and passengers. Pat downs are far too invasive and, if such a device is created, it would go a long way in mending relations between the general public and the uneducated TSA employees.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 30-0 to increase airline passenger security fees in an effort to cover shortfalls at the TSA.

The 2013 Homeland Security appropriations bill would increase one-way fees for passengers from $2.50 to $5 in order to close a budget shortfall at the Transportation Security Administration.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said the $315 million in funding would otherwise come from taxpayers and argued it is better to stick passengers who rely on TSA with the bill.

Apparently, the committee didn’t seek to find other ways to cut the TSA budget. Some things they could have done are:

1) Eliminate all aspects of security theater
2) Eliminate warehouses full of unused equipment and stop buying more
3) Privatization of security at the airports

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From the very first installation of full body scanners at the nation’s airports there have been questions about their legality as well as their effectiveness. An unclassified report, which can be found on the US government’s website, now concedes that the scanners probably don’t work.

Read the rest of my article at The Daily Censored.

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When it comes to copyright infringement, the RIAA and Homeland Security’s ICE department have been working side by side to take down the pirates. The RIAA tells the feds who they think are in the wrong; the feds investigate, and then determine if they have the right to seize the domain for that site. But that’s not exactly the case. We’ll give you an example of where they seized first, and then investigated.

In other words, having goaded the government into an outrageous and very public seizure of the blog, the RIAA members refused to follow up and answer the government’s questions. In turn, the government acted shamefully, not returning the blog or apologizing for its apparent mistake, but instead secretly asking the court to extend the seizure and deny Dajaz1 the right to seek return of its property or otherwise get due process. The government also refused to answer Congressional questions about the case. ICE finally released the domain name in December of 2011, again with no explanation.

The government failed to do its job. It did not represent the citizens of the United States. It did, however, cow-tow to the RIAA.

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We have already seen the TSA encroaching further in from our borders. They are already on the highways in Tennessee with their VIPR patrols. Several other cities have utilized the TSA at their train stations, light-rail stations, greyhound bus stations and city bus stations, as well as subway stations. Now, Houston is conducting exercises with the help of the TSA to be on its city buses.

The move to monitor and curtail crime on buses and trains is just one component of a much larger initiative called BusSafe – a national pilot program created by a peer advisory group of mass transit police chiefs and security directors, and one which METRO’s Police Department is adopting to enhance safety on the system.

It should be noted that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is the one who introduced the BUS SAFE legislation into the House of Representatives and is on the House Homeland Security Committee. It’s just a coincidence that her home city is being used as a testing area for this project.

MPD, Houston Police Department officers and Harris County Precinct 7 Deputy Constables will take part in a synchronized, counter-terrorism exercise on Friday, April 13, focusing on bus routes, bus stops and shelters, and Transit Centers in high traffic areas. The participating agencies will: ride buses, perform random bag checks, and conduct K-9 sweeps, as well as place uniformed and plainclothes officers at Transit Centers and rail platforms to detect, prevent and address latent criminal activity or behavior.

Performing random bag checks is a violation of the fourth amendment. With a city as large as Houston, you cannot simply tell people they must walk if they don’t like the violation of their rights. Citizens in Houston need to stand up to this encroachment on civil liberties.

While local law enforcement agencies focus on overall safety measures noted above, representatives with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will also be on hand, lending their counter-terrorism expertise and support during the exercise.

“We have one of the safest transit systems in the world in Houston,” said METRO Police Chief Victor Rodriguez. “One way we are able to keep it that way is through the use of deterrents such as uniformed and plainclothes officers patrolling our system and aggressively addressing suspicious and criminal activity.”

If their transit system is one of the safest in the world, why do they need the TSA on hand? If using uniformed and plainclothes officers have made the bus system one of the safest in the world, then why do they need TSA representatives there?

Houston Free Thinker, Phillip Levine was present at the press conference at the Wheeler Station off 4500 Main and witnessed DHS, and Metro Police question passengers who were exiting buses about their destinations and their reasons for riding the bus. “When I arrived at Wheeler I got off the stage and instantly noticed the massive police presence. The police presence consisted of DHS, metro police, HPD, TSA, and Harris county police officers. They were going on to buses searching and stopping people for questions. Apparently Shelia jackson Lee was there pushing for more security like what I was viewing. I asked the TSA agent if there was gonna be a bigger presence of metro or TSA. He said both,” Levine said in an email.

After seeing the exponential increase in police presence everywhere, it’s getting more and more difficult to defend the idea that the United States is not turning into a police state.

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