Wednesday, June 15, 2011

No Reason At All To Be Paranoid

If you’re still living under the delusion that the TSA is just restricted to airports then think again. A joint VIPR “security exercise” involving military personnel has Transportation Security Administration workers covering 5,000 miles and three states, illustrating once again how the TSA is turning into a literal occupying army for domestic repression in America.

The TSA, in alliance with a whole host of federal, state, local agencies as well as military personnel, is currently conducting a massive “security exercise” throughout Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

“The participating teams are composed of a variety of TSA assets including federal air marshals, canine teams, inspectors and bomb appraisal officers. They will be joined by state and local law enforcement officials to supplement existing resources, provide detection and response capabilities. The exercise will utilize multiple airborne assets, including Blackhawk helicopters and fixed wing aircraft as well as waterborne and surface teams,” reports the Marietta Times.

Although the exercise is couched in serious rhetoric about preparedness, it relates to “no specific threat” and the details are nebulous to say the least and seems to revolve around little else than testing out high-tech surveillance equipment and reminding Americans who their bosses are.

“In addition to using three helicopters for aerial inspection, the exercise made use of the Ohio Highway Patrol’s camera-equipped Cessna Caravan, which is capable of transmitting close-up, detailed real-time images of objects on the ground taken from more than five miles away,” reports the Charleston Gazette.

The exercise seems to be about little more than a show of force by the TSA in light of a massive resistance against their agenda, particularly in Texas where a recent bill that would have banned invasive TSA grope downs almost passed and is set to be up for debate again.

Michael Cleveland, federal security director for TSA operations in West Virginia admitted as much when he said the event was about letting, “people know we’re out here.”

As we have documented, TSA grope downs and body scans are now being rolled out on highways, street corners, train stations, bus depots, public buildings, at sports events, and even at local prom nights as part of the VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) takeover of the country.

The TSA has also announced its intention to expand the VIPR program to include roadside inspections of commercial vehicles, setting up a network of internal checkpoints and rolling out security procedures already active in airports, bus terminals and subway stations to roads and highways across the United States.

Homeland Security is also developing technology to be used at “security events” which purports to monitor “malintent” on behalf of an individual who passes through a checkpoint.

President Obama’s election campaign promise to create a domestic “security force,” that is “just as powerful, just as strong” as the US military is now coming to fruition as the TSA expands to turn American into a checkpoint-festooned hellhole where constant fearmongering about terror threats is the justification for the construction of a Sovietized police state.

Monday, June 6, 2011

More Calls for a Drug War Cease-Fire

June 6, 2011, The Wall Street Journal

An increasing number of world leaders are concluding that laws against drug consumption do more harm than good.


Tomorrow marks the 79th anniversary of the beginning of the end of the U.S. prohibition on alcohol. On that day in 1932 John D. Rockefeller Jr., a vociferous advocate of temperance, called for the repeal of the 18th amendment in a letter published in the New York Times.

Rockefeller had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for the constitutional prohibition on alcohol. But his letter did more than admit the error of his investment. Because of his moral authority on the matter, it effectively ended the conservative taboo against admitting that the whole experiment had failed.

Rockefeller had not changed his views on the destructiveness of drink, and he asked for ongoing "support of practical measures for the promotion of genuine temperance." But he insisted that lifting prohibition was essential if America was to "restore public respect for the law."

Rockefeller's reversal came to mind last week when former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, three former Latin American presidents from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, and the current prime minister of Greece (among others) issued a joint report—as the Global Commission on Drug Policy—"describ[ing] the drug war as a failure and call[ing] for a paradigm shift in global drug policy."

Like Rockefeller, the commission members do not embrace a laissez-faire policy toward drug use. But they recognize, as he did, that the attempt to use force to halt consumption has been disastrous. They recommend alternative approaches to controlling substances and more emphasis on treatment for addicts.

The parallels between the situation Rockefeller faced and today's scandalous war on drugs are dramatic. The wealthy philanthropist had begun his campaign against alcohol with great expectations. "When the Eighteenth Amendment was passed I earnestly hoped—with a host of advocates of temperance—that it would be generally supported by public opinion" and, he wrote, that teetotaling would eventually take hold.

"That this has not been the result but rather that drinking generally has increased; that the speakeasy has replaced the saloon, not only unit for unit, but probably two-fold if not three-fold; that a vast army of lawbreakers has been recruited and financed on a colossal scale; that many of our best citizens, piqued at what they regarded as an infringement of their private rights, have openly and unbashed[ly] disregarded the Eighteenth Amendment; that as an inevitable result respect for all law has greatly lessened; that crime has increased to an unprecedented degree—I have slowly reluctantly come to believe."

He noted that any "benefits" from the 18th amendment were "more than outweighed by the evils that ha[d] developed and flourished since its adoption, evils which, unless promptly checked," were "likely to lead to conditions unspeakably worse than those which prevailed before."

Sound familiar? Almost 100 years after drug prohibition was ushered in, school children report that they can easily access narcotics and surveys indicate they are used across social classes. A May 23 story in the Economist reported that Canada now trumps Mexico as an entryway into the U.S. for the drug "ecstasy." American jails are taking in record numbers of young minorities and converting them into hardened criminals; gang violence is on the rise; organized crime is undermining U.S. geopolitical interests in places like Mexico, Central America and Afghanistan. Thousands of innocents, including children, have been killed in the mayhem.

Having produced nothing but hardship for the most vulnerable, disrespect for the rule of law, terror in formerly peaceful cities and profit opportunities for gangsters, drug warriors now want to militarize the southern U.S. border.

If history is any guide, says Angelo Codevilla, in a recent Claremont Review of Books essay titled "Our Borders, Ourselves," this isn't going to end well. Look at what happened, he warns, in the Peloponnesian War when hostility broke out on the Athenian doorstep: "Having lost a friendly border, Athens turned itself inside out trying to secure an unfriendly one."

The border is unfriendly not because of too few fences, drones or soldiers, but because American drug habits finance the traffickers. "These dollars, and nothing else," writes Mr. Codevilla, "are responsible for the near collapse of law and order south of the border and for the insufficiently publicized corruption on the northern side."

We have met the enemy and it is us, the Claremont Institute scholar posits: "Even if our southern border were completely closed off . . . it would do nothing to change the fact that mind-altering drugs have become morally and politically acceptable to mainstream American society."

Americans can cut their demand, perhaps with education and by stigmatizing use, as was done with cigarettes. But until then, victory is unlikely. As Mr. Codevilla notes: "America's assumption that restricting supply can somehow make it safe for us to tolerate widespread drug use has itself proved to be a habit-forming narcotic that has reduced our sensitivity to moral rot." Rockefeller could not have said it better.