2007/09/25

The Era of the 'American Serf' Is At Hand

Many of you know about the Automated Targeting System (ATS), a federal database that has been used to screen passengers since the mid-1990s. And the fact that DHS has put this system into overdrive since 2002 has been discussed on this blog. What is only now starting to be revealed however, is how much information is being stored, how long DHS intends to keep the information around, and the very personal nature of the data.

Let's start with the basics: FOIA requests filed by John Gilmore, the technologist and privacy advocate, reveal that DHS is storing information on where you travel (even when that travel originates outside the US), by what means, with whom you stay, and what you take with you (a.k.a., the contents of your luggage). Now you may say, "So what's the problem? DHS needs this information to identify terrorists." Well...the problems are two-fold. First, the Privacy Act of 1974, forbids the government from collecting data on how you exercise your 1st Amendment rights. So recording the contents of your luggage and the names of the people with whom you stay, is illegal. Second, building a database of "known associates" may expose those people--your friends and family, for example--to government scrutiny without probable cause. Consequently, civil liberties advocates have asserted, and I agree, that this system is ripe for abuse.

But I will go one step further. I think that it is naive to assume that such a comprehensive database has any purpose other than to restrict the ability of US citizens to travel freely within their own country. In other words, this isn't merely a matter of presenting your "papers" on demand. We're about to enter a new era, one that should be disconcertingly familiar to any student of history.

In Imperial Russia the majority of the population was forbidden to travel without permission from their lord. In ATS, our political ruling class has a tool and a pretense for imposing such restrictions here. So...welcome to the era of American serfdom!

28 Comments:

"Step to the side, please."
"What's this all about?"
"Could you just step over here, sir."
"But look at what I'm reading! Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan's BlackOpsNetTechGunForce!"
"Sir, please step to the side."
"George Bush uber alles!"
"Sir, I'm only going to ask you one more time."
"What is the problem?"
"Your second cousin once removed knows an Iranian guy. And he talked to him on the phone. This morning."

I don't know why you just don't trust these guys. It could never happen here. Duh. :)
FranIam and in troubleIwillBe...

Known bleeding heart liberal
Known stone cold Bush hate-ah
Belongs to spurious organizations
Blogs
Visited Middle East 2x since 9/11
Known Muslim allies
Wired money to Palestinian in 2005


Basically I'd say I am f**ked!

If my blog goes suddenly silent, other than my trip next week, send out a search party!
Excellent post, Comrade froggydood.
So who goes through all this data? Who decides who stays and who goes? Oh and by the way, seems the Homeland Security computers may have been hacked back in the summer according to what I read yesterday, so who has the data on us now?
I've been using the term Multinational Corporate Feudalism on threads for some time now. The hereditary upper crust is a bunch of crumbs without class or talent, but with plenty of privilege and attitude. Bush is a prime example, but there is an endless list of the sons and daughters of wealth who have never accomplished anything in there life, but get to live at a standard separated further from the hoi-polloi than the Pharaohs were from their habiru slaves. Examples range from Paris Hilton to Bill Kristol.

Get a load of this story for instance. See what I mean? All of the noblesse with none of the oblige.
franiam, you wrote:

"Known Muslim allies"

So you are sympathetic to terrorist causes?

YOu admitted:

"Wired money to Palestinian in 2005"

Thus, you support people whose avowed purpose is to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews living there and anywhere else they can be found.

You concluded:

"Basically I'd say I am f**ked!"

Could be.
kvatch, you wrote:

"In Imperial Russia the majority of the population was forbidden to travel without permission from their lord."

In Cuba today, people must obtain permission to travel from their hometowns to other towns. Part of the reason is to control the movement of women who want to get to Havana to earn money as prostitutes.

And part of the permission business is to keep people from moving too fast for the secret police to watch. Too many people traveling about unchecked adds up to too many people sneaking out of the country.

Let me know when the US prohibits people from leaving.

You wrote:

"In ATS, our political ruling class has a tool and a pretense for imposing such restrictions here."

Well. What is it?

Meanwhile, the subway station closest to my house has installed six cameras in the last month. We went from no cameras and almost no police presence to six cameras and multiple cops in a very short period.

However, I should add that a large Pakistani muslim population (over 50,000) lives nearby and uses this subway stop. There is no doubt a suicide bomber would see this subway line as an excellent target.
Travel within the U.S. might not be the only thing that's jeopardized. Try leaving the country if you're on their shitlist. To paraphrase an old bumpersticker: America -- Love It or Don't Leave It.
Do you think they put down that I was reading "The Buddha and the Terrorist" on a flight to Nashville? If so, I may be on a list of non-Christians and appeasers. Next they will find out that I won 3 copies of the Qu'ran and only 2 Bibles
Excellent article on this, Kvatch. This is reminiscent of the KGB or SS.
-They keep a record of the contents of your luggage?
That settles it!
I want to show up with a Sampsonite filled with nothing but dildos with the the face of every member of the entire Bush administration taped to the little helmety-head, and then pray that they ask me why.
My answer?
I like to see who's screwing me.

I know. I know. Me and my suitcase of dildos will have a f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s time at Gitmo.
I've said it before and been labeled an alarmist and paranoid but I'll say it again.

It is my opinion that all this snooping by BushCo has nothing to do with stopping terror.

Bush got a fucking memo on his desk in August 2001 tiltled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." and STILL he could not stop the 9/11 attacks. And now with millions upon millions of emails, phone records, travel records, internet search records, Bush is supposed to be able to thwart a terror attack? No way.

What all the snooping is about is Bush being able to spy on his political enemies. Bush is always a step ahead of the Congress. Gee, I wonder why?

How much dirt does BushCo have on every politician in Washington.

The second aspect of all the snooping is to have the ability to build a criminal case against anyone at any time they feel like.

It's intimidation. And while you're dragged into headquarters and put under bright lights for hours being shown your life as they see it, on paper, even if they don't have enough to arrest you, they'll have enough to get you to stop doing whatever they don't want you to be doing. Or, to do what they want you to do.


I feel bad for the kid who put all their info on myspace, whose life is an open book on friendster and other social networking groups that inturn sell that info to corporations who use it for marketing purposes.

These kids will all have profiles for their entire lives. And if they said or did something foolish either online or in real life it will be duly noted.

It will affect their ability to get into college, to get jobs, and to travel.

"I see you went to Amsterdam last summer...tell me, how was the marijuana? We know from your credit card receipts that you made a purchase at a cafe...Do you frequently smoke hash? I see you attended some sex shows while there...tell me, are you a sexual deviant? Do you frequent prostitutes? Tell me, why should we let you back into our country? What will your wife think if I tell her you went to a sex show?"
no_slappz... just in case you are not being snarky and even if you are, please note!

for the record i have many muslim friends here and they bemoan the fundamentalists and extremists just as i bemoan the christian version or any version for that matter.

i wired money to a desparate palestinian christian friend 2 years ago. he and his family not only have to contend with anti palestinian sentiments from israelis but also from palestinian muslims. basically their lives suck. a lot.

since i have been to israel and plan on returning and have family there i dont' have any desire to see anyone blow it to bits. in fact even if i didn't have friends and family there i still wouldn't want it blown to bits.

i want nothing- repeat- nothing or no one blown to bits.

got it? get it? good.

so there you have it. if i'm f**ed for following my conscience, then at least it is done well and for a good reason.
Fran?

Just ignore slappy.

He likes to think he's clever. It makes him happy. His standards for "clever" are well below any previously recorded levels in a typical retarded person - but that's ok. He's happy.

*smirk*
Call me a cynic but i always get suspicious when Governments start collecting vast databases of people. Not only would they be a hackers dream as patricia mentioned but just how much can we trust the (probably) low paid people searching through these databases. I can just imagine a pharmaceutical company, for example, asking a database employee to name his price for the names of everyone on it's list with blood pressure tablets in their luggage. The money making oppotunities for buying this information would be priceless for some companies.
And if you think they aren't storing data on American Citizens than wait until the Real ID or also called the National ID becomes law next year.

When they stop you and ask you for your papers you better damn well have them.

I just don't understand why they just don't put tattoo's on our wrists like Hitler did in Nazi Germany.

After all it worked real well for Hitler didn't it? And IBM data punch cards stored all the data they needed to locate and round up those of Jewish Heritage.

Welcome to the Fourth Reich.

God Bless.
Hey...great comments all! Sorry I was missing in action most of the day--on site at my employer.

No_slappz... What kind of stretch are you capable of that you would, like DHS I suppose, equate wiring money to Palestine with supporting, "...people whose avowed purpose is to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews living there and anywhere else they can be found." You're like a human version of ATS.

Had Fran not already answered you, I'd have pointed out that perhaps the money was wired for something as innocent as having a friend fix their car, and this is exactly the problem: ATS takes all facts out of context which is exactly what makes it dangerous.
Some other random responses (sorry I can't get to everyone)...

Tina... Love the vibrator idea!

TomCat... Many thanks. From you, it's very high praise.

Lucyp... Both ATS and RealID have been technically analyzed and been found to have insufficient safeguards to prevent identity theft. Got ATS in a lot of trouble about a year ago.
more & more I'm feeling less & less like hanging around waiting to see what happens. by the time you start hearing "yer paypahs pleez", it's too late. ~~ D.K.
kvatch, you wrote:

"No_slappz... What kind of stretch are you capable of that you would, like DHS I suppose, equate wiring money to Palestine with supporting, "...people whose avowed purpose is to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews living there and anywhere else they can be found." You're like a human version of ATS."

Let's see. Here in Brooklyn a mosque and a number of people affiliated with it were busted by the FBI for wiring $20 million to terrorist organizations in the middle east.

Meanwhile, palestinians enjoy marching in protest here. They scream for the destruction of Israel in very clear terms.

And just today, the psycho president of Iran called for an end to Israel while here in NYC speaking at the UN.

Moreover, Iran supports hamas and hezbollah, and through hezbollah, Iran controls Lebanon. Both hamas and hezbollah are dedicated to the destruction of Israel and to killing as many Jews as possible.

Meanwhile, at Ground Zero on 9/11 I had the great displeasure of meeting muslims who support the work of both hamas and hezbollah. I also met some non-muslims who share the same sympathies.

In other words, there is no doubt that sending money to the middle east from the US is a red flag.
Didn't a "Christian" nation illegal and immorally invade and occupy a sovereign nation and aren't we breaking one of those Commandment thingies? Oh that's right, I forgot they had the nukulyarist and chemicalist of bombs. Plus Saddam had Osama and Atta over for a sleepover where they planned the return of the Caliphate.

If we're going to stretch the bounds of reality, fine. Stop filling up your car. There's a pretty good chance the original source of that premium 92 was Saudi Arabia and I'm sure they're funding some of the gun-toting bands in the clusterfuck that is Iraq. Why do you support terror?

And Hezbollah won in the Lebanese elections. But since we like democracy only when suits us, Operation Ajax and Pinochet, I'm looking at you.

And I shouldn't even have to say this, but since having an adult conversation about the world is so difficult, no, I'm not Yay! Hezbollah! It's funny how when you're occupied on a daily basis, you tend to hate your occupier. I thought you guys loved Red Dawn.

Nice try on the 9/11 fetishization. Perhaps you are telling the truth. That's fine, but doesn't change the fact that the world isn't black and white, and not all Muslims want all Jews destroyed, or America destroyed. I seem to recall every Muslim I encountered during my time at work after 9/11 NOT wishing for the death of the Great Satan. Do you not recall how virtually the entire world was in our corner? And since we're extrapolating from some anecdotal encounters, I think a huge percentage of Americans want all Muslims and gays slaughtered. You should hear some of the rhetoric on right-wing talk radio, and some of those guys have big audiences.

I apologize for feeding the troll. I'll try to be good, but it's so difficult.
Meanwhile, palestinians enjoy marching in protest here. They scream for the destruction of Israel in very clear terms.

David Ben-Gurion supported the destruction of Arab cities in what would become Israel. He supported the forced 'transfer' of millions of "soon to become 'Palestinians'" from the lands that they owned and worked--as have many of his successors.

Should we assume that all Israelis, or perhaps all Jews, support ethnic cleansing? NONSENSE!
You know I have been really upset over these comments, maybe more than I should be. My skin is generally really thick, but I felt very uncomfortable about the interchange between so_splappz and me.

I appreciate that others, especially you kvatch, tried to bring balance. My real issue is that when we start to qualify any one group we are no better than any other evil people or despotic regime.

Anyway, I hope you don't mind me doing this kvatch but I did write a post on my own blog today as a direct result of what happened here.

If we don't work for peace and justice for all then we are lost as a nation. That means all.

Peace people.
kvatch, you wrote:

"David Ben-Gurion supported the destruction of Arab cities in what would become Israel. He supported the forced 'transfer' of millions of "soon to become 'Palestinians'" from the lands that they owned and worked--as have many of his successors."

Your knowledge of half-truths is enough to bring tears to the eyes of any informed person.

It is always fascinating when critics apply standards to Israel and the terms of its existence that are never applied elsewhere on the globe.

In short, throughout history land has changed hands. America kicked the Indians from East to West. The US gave them land, mineral rights, casino rights and other benefits. That's more than fair.

In the middle east, every nation openly declares its desire for the destruction of Israel. Government leaders say it loud and proud -- like Ahmadinejad from Iran said it a couple of days ago here at the UN.

Nevertheless, you focus your queston on Israel and Israeli Jews instead of the people who are desire the destruction of Israel and the deaths of all Jews. In other words, you show all the signs of having been co-opted by the usual islamic propagandists.

Keep in mind that after the Vietnam War, many Vietnamese came to the US. Their children, therefore, are Americans of Vietnamese descent.

On the other hand, since muslims hate each other almost as much as they hate Israel, not one muslim nation has allowed the so-called palestinians to assimilate. It is the insane muslim countries that keep the so-called palestinians trapped in "refugee camps."

Do refugee camps exist in the US or any other free country? No. Why? Because sane countries absorb immigrants.

But the leaders of muslim countries understand that allowing the palestinians to become members of the mainstream of Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq or any other muslim country, would eliminate their value in the never-ending war with Israel.

They are so kind, those muslims. They really know how to treat each other.
Nevertheless, you focus your queston on Israel and Israeli Jews instead of the people who are desire the destruction of Israel and the deaths of all Jews. In other words, you show all the signs of having been co-opted by the usual islamic propagandists.

I did no such thing, and had you quoted my entire response, that would be blindingly obvious.

Slappz, you make the most sweeping generalizations from purely anecdotal evidence. Then when someone calls you on it, by making what is clearly a ludicrous counter-statement, you treat it as literal truth and accuse the commenter of using exactly the same kind of "garbage" arguments that you so often employ.

Ben-Gurion's writings on the subject could not be more clear. Likewise, my extrapolation from his writings to ethnic-cleansing and the fact that I consider it nonsensical, could not be more clear.

Do you ever wonder, why people react to you with immediate hostility whenever you show up? No, I suppose not. And please... do spare us the "I'm only speaking truth to the ignorant masses," rubric. It has already worn quite thin on this blog.
randal graves, you wrote:

"It's funny how when you're occupied on a daily basis, you tend to hate your occupier."

Let's see. Iran funds hezbollah, which occupies Lebanon.

It's fascinating how willing you seem to be to ignore that the Siniora-led government of Lebanon exists at the pleasure of hezbollah, which really means it exists at the pleasure of the swell folks in Tehran.

Free elections in Lebanon are as common as they are in Cuba.

You wrote:

"...the world isn't black and white, and not all Muslims want all Jews destroyed, or America destroyed."

Let's see, the US has been known as the Great Satan in muslim lands since at least 1979 -- the Iranian Revolution, in which 66 Americans were held hostage for over a year.

There is NO muslim nation that permits Americans to live like Westerners while in those islamic countries.

In other words, the governments, which all turn to the koran for their basic legal structure, object to the essence of everything life in the West means.

The muslims who live in the US have shown less interest and willingness to assimilate than other immigrants. I see women in full-body burqas every day -- even when NY is in its annual summer heat wave.

Moreover, equality is not their goal here in the US, or anywhere else. Wherever you find muslims, you find people demanding special priviledges. Not equality.

As they have shown, they believe in their right to speak or write freely about any matter of interest. But they also believe that ridiculing mohammed is an act demanding a death penalty. See Salman Rushdie for one who knows about life with a fatwa hanging over his head. Or Daniel Pearl, who lost his head.

You wrote:

"I seem to recall every Muslim I encountered during my time at work after 9/11 NOT wishing for the death of the Great Satan."

I recall that muslims who live in the large muslim enclave nearby told me -- in sympathetic terms -- that the US was attacked because people have too much freedom here. The sympathetid muslim did not wish this attack upon the US, but they all said they understood why it happened. Too much freedom!

Well, wasn't I glad to know that freedom gets the blood boiling in some people.

You wrote:

"Do you not recall how virtually the entire world was in our corner?"

Yes. With the exception of the muslim portion of the globe. There was extensive coverage of muslim joy regarding 9/11.

You wrote:

"And since we're extrapolating from some anecdotal encounters, I think a huge percentage of Americans want all Muslims and gays slaughtered."

Well, of course we know that the president of Iran wants gays slaughtered. He supports their exeuctions in Iran. Meanwhile, muslims support the slaughter of other muslims. They gleefully murder each other in huge numbers in Iraq these days. Or have you missed the muslim slaughter of muslims?

You wrote:

"You should hear some of the rhetoric on right-wing talk radio, and some of those guys have big audiences."

This is where screwballs like you go off the deep end.

You ignore muslims slaughtering muslims in the middle east; you ignore the president of Iran when he tells you he believes in the executions of homosexuals -- you ignore the staggering murderous violence of muslims against themselves and the world -- but you get worked up over some gasbag radio personalities who spout their lunacy but kill no one and don't inspire killings.

You really need to balance these things.

There have been virtually NO hate crimes in the US against muslims since 9/11. Maybe a few shouts and curses. Maybe a few people have been pushed around. Murders? Beatings? None.
kvatch, you wrote:

"David Ben-Gurion supported the destruction of Arab cities in what would become Israel."

Not true. Big changes. Perhaps.

You wrote:

"He supported the forced 'transfer' of millions of "soon to become 'Palestinians'" from the lands that they owned and worked--as have many of his successors."

Forced transfer of MILLIONS? Where do you get MILLIONS?

Furthermore, take note that "transfer", while being heavy-handed, was not equal to extermination.

Meanwhile, the number of so-called palestinian refugees created by the founding of Israel was roughly 500,000.

As I said before, you present these claims in rather dim light, which limits them to nothing more than half-truths taken out of context.

Ben-Gurion may have grown to dislike the palestinians -- which did not occur until WWII -- but his vision for the region was far better than the nothingness of what was there in the shambles of that piece of the defunct Ottoman Empire.

Nevertheless, you've attempted to use his hard-line attitudes -- taken out of the context of the times -- to identify him as an anti-muslim zealot, and then use that image in contrast to the moderate views of most Jews of today.

In other words -- your argument is totally phony.

Meanwhile, Ben-Gurion has been dead for 35 years and out of the limelight for far longer. He's irrelevant.

Today's muslims want to destroy Israel and drive all Jews from the middle east -- today.

I doubt there is any muslim societal opposition to terrorist groups seeking Israel's destruction. I'm sure there are NO muslim organizations that oppose muslim terrorism against Jews.

When hamas, a terrorist organization aiming to destroy Israel, is elected to the government that leads the palestinains, the determination of muslims who want to kill Jews is put on full display.

But you try to pull the focus in a different direction by citing views of a Jewish leader from the distant past of Israel.
no_slappz,

one of the reasons i blog is to learn and to share and to have what may seem to be a lost art in our society... discourse. the exchange of ideas and opinions. while most of the blogs i visit and the bloggers that visit me are of a similar mindset, we are far from cookie cutter versions of each other.

it seems a pity to me that someone with such strong opinions as yours does not have their own blog. beyond that, you don't even seem to have, likely by choice, a google id so that we might know a bit about you. is there a reason for all the subterfuge?

you left a comment on my blog saying that you worked in the WTC. I am very sorry to hear that you experienced that. i myself was in nyc that day, although in midtown. i can not imagine what you might have seen.

also, you have a lot of opinions about israel, the middle east and muslims. i am wondering if you have ever been there? as i mentioned before i have been there two times. while i am not jewish, my father was. i have many jewish relatives here and there. i have no question about the right for israel to exist.

by the same token, i have learned in my own life that all or nothing propositions tend to leave one with nothing. as a result, i can not support either the unilateral unquestioning support of israel. nor can i support the unilateral dislike/distrust of all muslims.

the reason the nazi party and any other despotic evil regime ever succeeded was because they used fear to get people to buy into one common enemy.

as a result, jews were thought of a evil, less than and worth destroying. your own attitudes towards muslims seems shockingly similar to that and i wonder how you feel about it.

cold, rational thought and not any of my other urgings tells me that it is impossible for an entire people to be "bad".

if you have some proof of otherwise, do let me know.

i am sorry that you seem to be so angry and that you want to lash out. i am wondering what brings you to our blogs when you know that we do not share your opinions and ideas.

i have no need or desire to change your mind one bit. please respect that this is still a free country and we all get to have our own thoughts and opinions.

in case you are wondering, i will close by saying that i grew up in a very violent and abusive household. remember that jewish father i told you about?

my life could have gone in any number of directions. i could hate all men. i could hate all jews. i could just hate everyone for the evil i suffered at his hands, physically and mentally.

years of anguish finally brought me to a place where i found that the only real peace and healing was to let go of my anger and revenge. don't let this short paragraph fool you into thinking that was a short or easy journey. in fact the journey is not over and the imprint of it is burned upon my soul for all time.

it has been long and hard and i am deeply grateful that that is the fork in the road that i chose.

i normally do not discuss this as it does not make me an "expert" of any sort, it is just who i am. don't pity me and don't stare at me. i simply will try to respect all who treat me with even a modicum of respect, which is all i ask.

the reason i bring it up here is to say that your ways of fighting evil and oppression are very different than my own. and peace to you for that.

all i know is that the path i am on today is rich, varied and even when painful(as it often is) it is always one of possibility and not of hate.

that is why i have and hold the attitudes that i do. hate and violence must stop at some point and for me that point is in my heart.

for the record i am cross-posting this comment at the Expand post where you also left a comment.

peace to all

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