14 October 2004

If profiling were allowed, I wouldn't be the one filling out government forms to prove I'm not a terrorist

Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas shares his tale of landing on the airlines potential terror suspect watch list.
I am on a US Airways list of some type that apparently requires airline employees to take my driver's license behind closed doors, have a conference and then stamp my ticket with a code that mandates my person and my carry-on bag be searched. Every time I fly, which is sometimes several times a week. I especially appreciate the crotch grab to make sure I'm not hiding any weapons of mass destruction. How would you like to be the trainer for this procedure?    

The idiocy virus is now spreading to other airlines. It seems someone who shares my name is wanted by authorities. I hope he is getting some of my hate mail. Logic should dictate that once I prove I am not the guy they are looking for, they would take me off the suspect list. But, no, our misnamed Transportation Security Administration is anything but logical.    

US Airways gives me a TSA phone number to call. I am not surprised when a machine answers. The machine promises a ''prompt'' response. I leave a message. There is no response. A few days later, I call again. Same recording, same message, same non-response. I send an e-mail to TSA. This time I receive an ''automated reply,'' assuring me of a prompt response. Two days later, I receive another e-mail informing me I will have to fill out a form to prove I am not a terrorist. This is an interesting twist on the ''innocent until proven guilty'' standard in law.

Is it truly any safer to hop on a flight in the post 9-11 world?

12 October 2004

The constitution does not permit the government unilaterally to cut off the speech of an independent media outlet

But yet, censorship prevailed in the UK, via order by the FBI at the request of Italian and Swiss authorities. No reason was given for the seizure and the web hosting company eagerly handed over computer equipment.
A US court order forced the firm hosting the material to hand over two servers in the UK used by the group.

Indymedia says it is a news source for the anti-globalisation movement and other social justice issues.

The reasons behind the seizure are unclear but the FBI has reportedly said the action was taken at the request of Italian and Swiss authorities.

A truly chilling act and a blatant reminder that freedom of speech on the internet is a mirage. Some can wane on about the freedom of the new medium, but as this story plainly illustrates, it is a grand illusion.

And why are American resources being used to facilitate search and seizure on foreign soil?

6 October 2004

The draft – which will include both boys and girls this time around – is a no-brainer

America's most decorated military veteran says that a return to a draft is inevitable, given current foreign policy path pursued by Bush/Cheney.
Recently, when John Kerry brought up the possibility of a return to the draft, SecDef Donald Rumsfeld was quick to respond that Kerry was full of it.

But my take is that Kerry is right on the mark. Not only because Rummy has been flat wrong on every major military call regarding Iraq, but because this is a war that won’t be won by smart weapons or the sledgehammer firepower we see every night on the tube.

Right now – with both our regular and Reserve soldiers stretched beyond the breaking point – our all-volunteer force is tapping out. If our overseas troop commitments continue at the present rate or climb higher, there won’t be enough Army and Marine grunts to do the job. And thin, overworked units, from Special Forces teams to infantry battalions, lose fights.