Thursday, 14 November 2013
"Ed Hasbrouck versus the TSA"
Kelley Vlahos, who's been covering "homeland security" and civil liberties since before 9/11, has a sympathetic portrait of me and my last dozen years of work, particularly with the Identity Project, in her column today at Antiwar.com (a Web site which was itself wrongly investigated and surveilled for years by the FBI for its journalistic work):
Link | Posted by Edward on Thursday, 14 November 2013, 09:44 ( 9:44 AM) | TrackBack (0)
..."This is essentially about rights," he told Antiwar.com in a recent interview. "This is the government claiming that you have no "right" to travel and that travel is a privilege that they can grant or withhold on a whim, and impose whatever [conditions] they like on it." That of course, is an anathema to a man who spent his entire adulthood globetrotting. Early on, he focused his writing and researching on helping consumers get the cheapest airline tickets and to be astute and safe travelers. But a couple of years before 9/11, he noticed red flags going up regarding passenger privacy and the kind of personal data the government was canvassing and collecting in massive databases in the name of "security."...
Hasbrouck once predicted to this reporter that the government would begin collecting and keeping "dossiers" on each passenger. Each revelation, each new "program" at the TSA only confirms his worst fears. Most recently it was revealed that the TSA is conducting a more expansive pre-screening of passengers not voluntarily signed up with the "Pre-Check" program.
It"s a data feast, and unfortunately, we are the main course. "They are doing two things -- they are expanding the degree of "dataveillance" and they are expanding the degree of pre-crime profiling," said Hasbrouck, who spends much of his time these days researching and writing briefs for The Identity Project. He has taken to comparing the whole screening process to the "pre-cognitives" or "precogs," who in the movie Minority Report, psychically predict actual crimes with precision accuracy, requiring the "PreCrime" police unit to engage a super-massive data and surveillance network to stop events before they occur.
"There"s no such thing as a precog," he said simply, and algorithms and robots that are designed to pluck out potential terror suspects can be wrong, very wrong. But at this point, "I would say this is what we've been predicting -- it"s a step along a path they"ve been on for a while. The question is, how far are going to go on this road before people get more up in arms than they already are?"...
Like many civil liberties advocates, Hasbrouck rankles at the idea of having to show "papers" to travel, and the sense that one is "guilty until proven innocent" in the airport security culture today. He doesn"t like it. Anyone who has read his writing or heard him speak knows he doesn"t mince words when this topic is raised.
"I think that most people believe, at a fundamental level, that we have a right to travel, and the government needs a good reason to interfere with that. More and more conditions are being placed on it, and not all of these are rules or law laid down by judges," Hasbrouck said.
"I have to say the place I find the clearest [analogy to] this is reading the history of the Stasi (East German police during the Cold War), and the process the East German people had to go through to travel. They had to apply to the government, and the government would decide."