Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

‘Big Sister’ and her big plans

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano wants to make it clear that not only is the TSA Morton’s Fork (full-body scanner or “enhanced” patdown) going to remain part of air travel, but that she is convinced that the methods the agency uses are effective — despite a reported 70-percent fail rate in some independent tests — and should be expanded to other travel venues.

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano consults the Teleprompter as she talks about her security plans.
[ Image Source ]

For the first time that I recall reading, the department has revealed explicit plans to apply its security methods on trains and subways. Napolitano has also hinted that shopping malls and sports stadiums might be among the TSA’s security objectives. From this we can infer that buses — presumably starting with interstate routes, and then expanding to more local ones over time — as well as theaters, chambers of commerce and of course government buildings will soon also be under TSA “protection.”

This will result in an appearance of great diligence, but gaps will always exist, and since potential terrorists are proceeding proactively and security measures are by necessity essentially reactive, it is in those gaps that new targets will be found. And since it is impossible for TSA to watch everything, attacks will penetrate this system: The U.S. is a “target-rich environment,” and it is all too easy to imagine far deadlier exploitations of such targets than we have discussed so far, with a whole, vast, unsecured food system merely the most obvious that comes to mind.

Meanwhile, Napolitano and others are trying to extend their reach by asking Americans to function as a sort of Stasi intelligence network, informing Homeland Security of any “suspicious” people or behavior they see. Napolitano assures us that Americans will use their common sense, but this is naïve or worse: Doubtless Erich Honecker offered similar assurances to the citizens of East Germany.

There is only one certainty in all the elaborate security apparatus that our leaders are so avidly constructing: Our rights and freedoms will continue to shrink.

Where, if anywhere, will we draw the line?

Originally published as a review of a Time article on TSA expansion plans.

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