Homeland Security Watch turns the mike over to the former Assistant Chief of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Department of Police in 'Do I have the right to refuse this search?' and she suggests that there are some pretty large gaps in TSA training and procedures at airports.
I look forward to Stewart Baker's reply.
Chicago Loses Bid for 2016 Olympic Games
It looks as if the Bush administration policy on making it much harder to get a US visa (which Obama has yet to alter) has come home to sink Chicago's Olympic bid:
In the official question-and-answer session following the Chicago presentation, Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, asked the toughest question. He wondered how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Games because doing so can sometimes, he said, be “a rather harrowing experience.”
This is the same stupid anti-visitor policy that is destroying American higher education by driving graduate students to UK and other universities. Here at UM, for example, we have had great trouble getting visas for some great students who want to take our LL.M for foreign students — including one who had a US government scholarship!
Maybe some good can come from this stunning defeat for Obama's personal diplomacy: bring back the pre-9/11 visa rules that made this country a magnet for tourists, investors, and the world's best and the brightest.
It's rare that I get to praise an opinion by Judge Sentelle, but today's the day.
Yesterday the DC Circuit released Caneisha Mills v. DC, [link fixed] an appeal of the trial court's failure to enjoin the District of Columbia's police department's so-called neighborhood safety zone (NSZ) plan. Tthe NSZ put a police cordon around a high crime neighborhood in DC. Police would stop every car going into the neighborhood, but not pedestrians or cars exiting, and interrogate the drivers as to why they were going there. If the answers were not satisfactory, the police would not let the driver enter. According to the court, 48 vehicles were turned away during the operation of the program.
The panel ruled unanimously that these suspicionless stops violated the Fourth Amendment. It distinguished all the other roadblock cases, including United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, in which the Supreme Court permitted suspicionless routine stops of vehicles at checkpoints on major roads leading away from the Mexican border — even quite far from the border. Instead, Sentelle relied on City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32, 48 (2000) (“Because the primary purpose of the Indianapolis checkpoint program is ultimately indistinguishable from the general interest in crime control, the checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment.”).
Notably absent from the Court's opinion was any suggestion that motorists have a duty to identify themselves to police in the absence of a Terry stop (one based on some suspicion of wrongdoing),
Overall, it's a right decision, and good one for civil liberties.
The story that we'll all have to undergo fingerprint scans to leave the US is apparently false, at least for now.
It got wide currency, e.g. Slashdot's Homeland Security To Scan Citizens Exiting US, but according to Stewart Baker, ex Dept. of Homeland Security policy czar, it's not quite true; instead, only foreigners will be subjected to the fingerprint screening on exit. As Baker notes, this isn't really a security measure (since whatever harm the exiting person might have committed is a done deal by then), but rather about immigration controls. And the (not cost-effective) scans are something mandated by Congress, not a choice made by either the Bush or Obama administrations.
I think there would be some constitutional issues in requiring a fingerprint scan to exit the US (but not, alas, if foreign countries require it as a condition of entry, and airlines do it here to save the cost of returning travelers who are held undesirable). But that's for another day, it seems
CBS, Fliers Complain About X-Rated Security Screenings
Horror stories, plus a statistic:
out of 2 billion passengers screened nationwide since 9-11, there have been only 110,000 abuse complaints.
Let's see. 110,000 complaints per 2bn passengers. 110 per 2m. 1.1 for every 20,000, or one per 18,181. What's that per day, per airport?
MIA runs 2.8m passengers per month. If it has average TSA staff, that would generate about five complaints of abuse every day at MIA alone. Doesn't sound like “only” to me!
Cosmic Iguana has found something incredible at TURNING TRAVELERS TO PRISONERS. The source is the Washington Times, so I suppose it's suspect.
A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers.
This bracelet would:
• take the place of an airline boarding pass
• contain personal information about the traveler
• be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage
• shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes
The Electronic ID Bracelet … would be worn by every traveler “until they disembark the flight at their destination.”
They have a pdf of what seems to be a letter from Homeland Security to back up the story: page one and page two.
Otherwise I'd treat it like My First Cavity Search.
In How America is snooping on YOU … and may soon be snooping a whole lot more, “This is London” describes a lawsuit by Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie In’t Veld in which she seeks to find out why the US government keeps pulling her over for security searches at airports.
The article claims that this is the first lawsuit of its kind. Can that really be so?