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Thread: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

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    A Veteran Wargamer Member kiwitt's Avatar
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    Default Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Heading for Oakland from Seattle to see my grandkids last week, the Alaska Airlines check-in machine refused to give me a boarding pass. Directed to the ticket counter, I gave the agent my driver's license and watched her punch keys at her computer.

    Frowning, she told me that my name was on the national terrorist No Fly Watch List and that I had to be specially cleared to board a plane. Any plane. Then she disappeared with my license for 10 minutes, returning with a boarding pass and a written notice from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirming that my name was on a list of persons "who posed, or were suspected of posing, a threat to civil aviation or national security."

    No one could tell me more than that. The computer was certain.

    Back home in Seattle, I called the TSA's 800 number, where I rode a merry-go-round of pleasant recorded voices until I gave up. Turning to the TSA web site, I downloaded a Passenger Identity Verification form that would assist the TSA in "assessing" my situation if I sent it in with a package of certified documents attesting to who I was.

    I collected all this stuff and sent it in. Another 20 minutes on the phone to the TSA uncovered no live human being at all, let alone one who would tell me what I'd presumably done to get on The List. Searching my mind for possible reasons, I've been more and more puzzled. I used to work on national security issues for the State Department and I know how dangerous our country's opponents can be. To the dismay of many of my more progressive friends, I've given the feds the benefit of the doubt on homeland security. I tend to dismiss conspiracy theories as nonsense and I take my shoes off for the airport screeners with a smile.

    I'm embarrassed that it took my own ox being gored for me to see the threat posed by the Administration's current restricting of civil liberties. I'm being accused of a serious--even treasonous--criminal intent by a faceless bureaucracy, with no opportunity (that I can find) to refute any errors or false charges. My ability to earn a living is threatened; I speak on civic action and leadership all over the world, including recently at the US Air Force Academy. Plane travel is key to my livelihood.

    According to a recent MSNBC piece, thousands of Americans are having similar experiences. And this is not Chile under Pinochet. It's America. My country and yours.

    With no real information to go on, I'm left to guess why this is happening to me. The easiest and most comforting guess is that it's all a mistake (a possibility the TSA form, to its credit, allows). But how? I'm a 63-year-old guy with an Anglo-Saxon name. I once held a Top Secret Umbra clearance (don't ask what it is but it meant the FBI vetted me up the whazoo for months). And since I left the government in 1980, my life has been an open book. It shouldn't be hard for the government to figure out that I'm not a menace to my country.

    If they do think that, I can't see how. Since 1983 I've helped lead the Giraffe Heroes Project, a nonprofit that moves people to stick their necks out for the common good. In the tradition of Gandhi, King and Mandela, that can include challenging public policies people think are unjust. In 1990, the Project's founder and I were honored as "Points of Light" by the first President Bush for our work in fostering the health of this democracy. I've just written a book about activating citizens to get to work on whatever problems they care about, instead of sitting around complaining.

    I'm also engaged in international peacemaking, working with an organization with a distinguished 60-year record of success in places ranging from post-war Europe to Africa. Peacemakers must talk to all sides, so over the years I've met with Cambodians, Sudanese, Palestinians, Israelis and many others. You can't convince people to move toward peaceful solutions unless you understand who they are.

    As I said, I'm not into conspiracy theories. But I can't ignore this administration's efforts to purge and punish dissenters and opponents. Look, for example, at current efforts to cleanse PBS and NPR of "anti-administration" news. But I'm not Bill Moyers and the Giraffe Heroes Project is not PBS. We're a small operation working quietly to promote real citizenship.

    Whether it's a mistake or somebody with the power to hassle me really thinks I am a threat, the stark absence of due process is unsettling. The worst of it is that being put on a list of America's enemies seems to be permanent. The TSA form states:

    The TSA clearance process will not remove a name from the Watch Lists. Instead this process distinguishes passengers from persons who are in fact on the Watch Lists by placing their names and identifying information in a cleared portion of the Lists.

    Which may or may not, the form continues, reduce the airport hassles.

    Huh? My name is on a list of real and suspected enemies of the state and I can't find out what I'm accused of or why, let alone defend myself. And I'm guilty, says my government, not just until proven innocent or a victim of mistaken identity--but forever.

    Sure, 9/11 changed a lot. Tougher internal security measures (like thorough screenings at airports and boundary crossings) are a dismal necessity. But, in protecting ourselves, we can't allow our leaders to continue to create a climate of fear and mistrust, to destroy our civil liberties and, in so doing, to change who we are as a nation. What a victory that would be for our enemies, and what a betrayal of real patriots and so many in the wider world who still remember this country as a source of inspiration and hope.

    I don't think it's like Germany in 1936 -- but, look at Germany in 1930. Primed by National Socialist propaganda to stay fearful and angry, Germans in droves refused to see the right's extreme views and actions as a threat to their liberties.

    And don't forget that frog. You know that frog. Dropped into a pot of boiling water, he jumps out to safety. But put him into a pot of cold water over a steady flame, he won't realize the danger until it's too late to jump.

    So how hot does the water have to get? When the feds can rifle through your library reading list? When they can intimidate journalists? When a government agency can keep you off airplanes without giving you a reason? When there's not even a pretense of due process? We're not talking about prisoners at Guantanamo; this is you and me. Well, after last week, it sure as hell is me and it could be you, next.

    Oh, yes -- Washington State just refused to renew my driver's license online, a privilege given others. I had to wait in line at the DMV before a computer decided I could drive home. This conspiracy theory debunker smells a connection to the Watch List.

    I know what I will do. If my name is not removed completely from the Watch List in 45 days I will use every resource I've got to challenge the government of a country that I love and have served. In all the press about identity theft, I find myself railing at having my identity as a patriot stolen--by my own government. This must not stand.

    John Graham is the author of Stick Your Neck Out: A Street-smart Guide to Creating Change in Your Community and Beyond (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2005). He is also president of the Giraffe Heroes Project and a former US diplomat.
    LINK More about the TSA Database can be found here

    A similar thing has been happening here in NZ concerning a faceless bureaucracy. The Courts were sending fine notices to people with the same name, but different birthdates, and making criminals of them for non-payment of these fines.
    Last edited by kiwitt; 07-11-2005 at 02:17.
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    Part-Time Polemic Senior Member ICantSpellDawg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    that guy worked for the government for years and can't find a single person to help him out with this?

    are you serious?
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    Member Member sharrukin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Quote Originally Posted by TuffStuffMcGruff
    that guy worked for the government for years and can't find a single person to help him out with this?

    are you serious?
    Wasn't an American Senator put on the watch list as well?

    I agree that there is a need for some form of list but it seems to be rather poorly done, and if too many are put on the list with little to no cause, it will become unusable.

    You shouldn't have too 'know someone' to get justice.
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
    -- John Stewart Mills

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Quote Originally Posted by TuffStuffMcGruff
    that guy worked for the government for years and can't find a single person to help him out with this?

    are you serious?
    Yeah really. My first thought was contact your congressman knucklehead.

    That'd be my first course of action after not being able to get ahold of a live person. At least his office should know how to get in touch with a live person.
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    Clan Clan InsaneApache's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    This is a danger here in the UK as well. Imprisonment without trial the most obvious one.....and ID cards. If true (and I'm not saying it isn't) then the terrorists have indeed gained a valuble victory. We freedom loving peoples must not allow our governments to instigate a raft of measures that would curtail our hard fought for liberties.
    There are times I wish theyíd just ban everything- baccy and beer, burgers and bangers, and all the rest- once and for all. Instead, they creep forward one apparently tiny step at a time. Itís like being executed with a bacon slicer.

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    Probably Drunk Member Reverend Joe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    I don't believe it... my fears are coming true.

    I can't remember who had this conversation (I think it was one of my relatives; I heard it thirdhand), but 50 years ago, a daughter was talking with her father during the red scare. She asked him if the communists were going to take over; he replied that this is a ridiculous fear. The communists would never take over in America. What he was afraid of was America becoming a facist nation. Those fears are finally coming to light: the Nixonites and followers of Goldwater are taking over, and unless we act now, they will take permanent control of the US in the next 10 years.

    Edit: By red scare, I don't mean the one during the 20's; I was referring to the beginning of the Cold War in the 50's. Sorry for the confusion.
    Last edited by Reverend Joe; 07-11-2005 at 19:26.

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    Member Member Azi Tohak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Bad President Bush Bad!

    Don't bother to remember EVERYONE was going ape after the attacks. "Damned the torpedoes and make us safe!" was the call I believe. The ACLU only emerged from their rabbit holes when their masters in the Democratic Joke (oops...party) demanded that Bush stop taking their ideas and putting them into practice, instead of farting around with them, and talking about how they will benefit minorities and how Bush eats babies and all the rest of that crap.

    For me, the moral of the story with the whole security issue is be careful what you ask for. But God forbid that we have to give up some Ďsafetyí to make sure we can do as we please.

    Azi
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    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    You guys all need to calm down. It wasn't his social security number that caused the alert, nor his address. Just his name. John Graham could have been an alias used by terrorists. How do you think Joe Smith or Mike Jones are doing these days?

    I'll grant you all that it sounds like a beauracratic nightmare that needs more efficiency, but I seriously doubt Bush and Cheney are up late at night, poring over lists of political enemies, cackling madly as they highlight one after another's names to be forwarded to the TSA.
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    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Quote Originally Posted by meatwad
    I don't believe it... my fears are coming true.

    I can't remember who had this conversation (I think it was one of my relatives; I heard it thirdhand), but 50 years ago, a daughter was talking with her father during the red scare. She asked him if the communists were going to take over; he replied that this is a ridiculous fear. The communists would never take over in America. What he was afraid of was America becoming a facist nation. Those fears are finally coming to light: the Nixonites and followers of Goldwater are taking over, and unless we act now, they will take permanent control of the US in the next 10 years.

    Edit: By red scare, I don't mean the one during the 20's; I was referring to the beginning of the Cold War in the 50's. Sorry for the confusion.
    Your friend's father wasn't all that informed. While McCarthy was a vile and despicable man who used the House Subcommitte on UnAmerican Activities for his own ends, the Kremlin has come out and said they did indeed have many active agents in this country working to destablize the government. Julius & Ethel Rosenberg weren't figments of our imagination.

    Has anybody even bothered to verify that this guy's story is true?
    "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
    Don Vito Corleone: The Godfather, Part 1.

    "Then wait for them and swear to God in heaven that if they spew that bull to you or your family again you will cave there heads in with a sledgehammer"
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    Alienated Senior Member Member Red Harvest's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    This has actually been fairly common. It is rather easy to make the list, and far from easy to get removed from it.

    Heck, simple passport and drivers license identity issues have been a concern for years. My brother-in-law had his identity stolen many years ago by some sort of drug kingpin. Every once in awhile he gets stopped and has to prove that he is not that person. He carries a letter clearing him...and grisly photos of the gunned down criminal.

    My own wife got an amusing comment coming back into the country once that was to the effect, "Looks like you aren't the 'Mrs. ______ ______' we are after, she's a few inches taller...and black." That is very funny, until you consider the possibility that luck of the draw could have made the suspect somewhat similar to my wife in appearance.
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    The Sword of Rome Member Marcellus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Quote Originally Posted by InsaneApache
    This is a danger here in the UK as well. Imprisonment without trial the most obvious one.....and ID cards. If true (and I'm not saying it isn't) then the terrorists have indeed gained a valuble victory. We freedom loving peoples must not allow our governments to instigate a raft of measures that would curtail our hard fought for liberties.
    Thankfully, full imprisonment without trial has been ended, but someone can still be put under house arrest without trial, thanks to Charles Clarke.

    I just hope that the ID cards bill can be stopped before it is too late.

    You are absolutely right when you say that the terrorists, through the fear they generate, are eroding our civil liberties and are therefore winning.


    What I find so annoying is that at the same time as saying that they are trying to spread democracy and freedom throughout the world, Bush'n'Blair are eroding our own freedoms.
    "Look Iíve got my old pledge card a bit battered and crumpled we said weíd provide more turches churches teachers and we have I can remember when people used to say the Japanese are better than us the Germans are better than us the French are better than us well itís great to be able to say weíre better than them I think Mr Kennedy well we all congratulate on his baby and the Tories are you remembering what Iím remembering boom and bust negative equity remember Mr Howard I mean are you thinking what Iím thinking Iím remembering itís all a bit wonky isnít it?"

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    probably bored Member BDC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    On the subject of ID cards, even the department of the deputy prime minister admitted on tv that they were just another 'hurdle' for potential terrorists to jump over. Which is great seeing as the terrorists were probably British anyway.

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    The Sword of Rome Member Marcellus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Exactly. I think that many terrorists in the UK are in the country perfectly legally.
    "Look Iíve got my old pledge card a bit battered and crumpled we said weíd provide more turches churches teachers and we have I can remember when people used to say the Japanese are better than us the Germans are better than us the French are better than us well itís great to be able to say weíre better than them I think Mr Kennedy well we all congratulate on his baby and the Tories are you remembering what Iím remembering boom and bust negative equity remember Mr Howard I mean are you thinking what Iím thinking Iím remembering itís all a bit wonky isnít it?"

    -Wise words from John Prescott

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    A Veteran Wargamer Member kiwitt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone
    ....but I seriously doubt Bush and Cheney are up late at night, poring over lists of political enemies, cackling madly as they highlight one after another's names to be forwarded to the TSA.
    I don't expect them do do it either. Their role is to create an environment and mind-set that will make it happen. There are enough neo-con's to do all the donkey work for them, writing bills, passing laws, getting finance, etc. The "Faceless Bureaucracy" will take over the day-to-day operations and share data behind scenes all in the name of "National Security" and sometimes that data will be wrong and again "innocents" will suffer.
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    Member Member sharrukin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone
    You guys all need to calm down. It wasn't his social security number that caused the alert, nor his address. Just his name. John Graham could have been an alias used by terrorists. How do you think Joe Smith or Mike Jones are doing these days?

    I'll grant you all that it sounds like a beauracratic nightmare that needs more efficiency, but I seriously doubt Bush and Cheney are up late at night, poring over lists of political enemies, cackling madly as they highlight one after another's names to be forwarded to the TSA.
    I seriously doubt they are part of any conspiracy myself. The point however is that this is power that should not be in the hands of the government. If Bush and Cheney are conscientious men then that is well and good. What of the man who come's after them? Will he be a conscientious man? Will the next 5 presidents be good and conscientious men?
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
    -- John Stewart Mills

    But from the absolute will of an entire people there is no appeal, no redemption, no refuge but treason.
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    Alienated Senior Member Member Red Harvest's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwitt
    I don't expect them do do it either. Their role is to create an environment and mind-set that will make it happen. There are enough neo-con's to do all the donkey work for them, writing bills, passing laws, getting finance, etc. The "Faceless Bureaucracy" will take over the day-to-day operations and share data behind scenes all in the name of "National Security" and sometimes that data will be wrong and again "innocents" will suffer.
    Yes, while it may sound paranoid to some, I am concerned about the same thing. I can't say anything positive about the integrity of this administration. They set a *tone* for their own zealots to work from, then use deniability as their defense. Abu Ghraib is a good example of the slippery slope, followed by major abuse, and the traditional sacrifice of lower level scape goats when discovered. The divided command structure of that prison was no accident.
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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Quote Originally Posted by InsaneApache
    This is a danger here in the UK as well. Imprisonment without trial the most obvious one.....and ID cards. If true (and I'm not saying it isn't) then the terrorists have indeed gained a valuble victory. We freedom loving peoples must not allow our governments to instigate a raft of measures that would curtail our hard fought for liberties.
    I heard that the average Londoner has their picture taken by surveillence cameras 250x daily. With almost every aspect of your life on film already, it almost seems like a moot point to worry about ID cards.

    edit: Not that Im in favor of ID cards, but it seems their lives are already an open book.
    Last edited by Xiahou; 07-11-2005 at 21:49.
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    The Sword of Rome Member Marcellus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here is a freedom lost and unable to defend against.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xiahou
    I heard that the average Londoner has their picture taken by surveillence cameras 250x daily. With almost every aspect of your life on film already, it almost seems like a moot point to worry about ID cards.
    Ah, but we haven't got to do anything with CCTV cameras. But it will be our responsibility to have and carry ID cards (and pay for them).
    "Look Iíve got my old pledge card a bit battered and crumpled we said weíd provide more turches churches teachers and we have I can remember when people used to say the Japanese are better than us the Germans are better than us the French are better than us well itís great to be able to say weíre better than them I think Mr Kennedy well we all congratulate on his baby and the Tories are you remembering what Iím remembering boom and bust negative equity remember Mr Howard I mean are you thinking what Iím thinking Iím remembering itís all a bit wonky isnít it?"

    -Wise words from John Prescott

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