Paranoid flights of fanciful lab rat thinking

I hate it when I voice paranoid suspicions which turn out to be accurate descriptions of official policy, but I guess I better get used to it.

In a post titled "Egalitarianism For Asses" on December 27, I worried that there might be "growing tacit acceptance of an absurd proposition" --

that it is better to let people who want to blow themselves up fly and look up everyone's butthole than look up the buttholes only of people who want to blow themselves up.
And I asked,
Is the goal to move toward a world where people who believe in religious suicide have a right to fly, and to better facilitate this we will all bend over to accommodate them?

In the name of "safety"?

I thought I was being snarky and sarcastic in a reproachful manner -- making what I thought was a reduction to absurdity. (As in, "surely no sane government would want this, right?")

The next day, I speculated that government officials trusted with protecting the public from terrorists are deliberately allowing terrorists to fly, and that they know it:

Little wonder they want to imprison air passengers in their seats and make air travel nearly impossible. They have created a monster where they know that there will be terrorists among us, for the simple reason that they know they are bringing them here.
Spoken like a paranoid conspiracy theorist, right? But I was engaged in speculation -- making a worst case scenario argument that I really didn't want to be true.

But today I read that Detroit bomber Abdulmutallab was in a large database of terrorist supporters who are deliberately being allowed to fly (and who naturally are treated no differently than normal American citizens). All in the name of "national security" doncha know:

Abdulmutallab was in a database containing half a million names of people with suspected extremist links but who are not considered threats. Therefore, border security officials would have sought only to question him upon arrival in the U.S., the administration official said.

Nonetheless, the disclosure shows the complexity of the intelligence and passenger screening systems that are the subject of comprehensive reviews that the administration will release today.

The threshold for requiring a foreign visitor to undergo special scrutiny upon arrival in the U.S. is considerably lower than criteria for stopping a passenger's departure overseas, according to current and former law enforcement officials. That is why border security agencies rely heavily on terrorism watch lists of suspects seen as urgent threats, officials said.

"The public isn't aware how many people are allowed to travel through the U.S., who are linked, who intersect with bad guys or alleged bad guys," a national security official said. "It makes sense from an intelligence perspective. If they are not considered dangerous, it provides intelligence on where they go, who they meet with."

Well isn't that nice? Our rulers think that letting terrorists and people who support suicide bombing get on the planes is just fine, because, you know, they enjoy watching them. And if something happens, well, we the public are all part of their social experiment, and it makes sense to treat everyone equally.

What's sarcastic paranoia to me is official policy.

As if I needed another reminder, a Palestinian (who apparently lives in Toledo) got on a plane in Miami and couldn't resist making death threats against Jews:

MIAMI (AP) -- An airline passenger in Miami proclaimed "I want to kill all the Jews" before police forced him off a Detroit-bound plane, authorities said Thursday.

Mansor Mohammad Asad, 43, of Toledo, Ohio, was arrested Wednesday night, according to a Miami-Dade Police Department statement. Asad was charged with threats against a public servant, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer without violence.

FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said there were no indications the disturbance was related to terrorism. The bureau was initially brought in to look into the incident but is no longer involved in the investigation. She said the FBI is treating the disruption as a matter for local authorities.

See what I mean? This asshole -- a man who clearly should not be allowed to fly -- is being treated just like someone's angry grandmother who lost her temper.
The disturbance forced a taxiing Northwest Airlines flight to turn around at Miami International Airport, according to a news release. Witnesses told investigators who boarded the plane that Asad was loud, disruptive and claimed to be Palestinian.

Officers didn't find any weapons or explosives on Asad, who was reportedly agitated and aggressive at times, according to an arrest affidavit. Authorities used a stun gun to subdue Asad on the jet bridge after he charged at an officer with fists clenched. He also chanted in a foreign language and threatened officers during a search.

Excuse me, but what is this Palestinian who wants to kill all the Jews doing here in the United States chanting in a foreign language and threatening officers? And why is he allowed to fly on our planes? I'd be willing to bet he'd never get on an El-Al flight. At least the Israelis aren't running a social experiment where they let terrorists and their sympathizers fly.

I should stop it with my paranoid speculations, because I right now find myself thinking about lab rats. I'm wondering whether the terrorists who want to kill Americans are regarded as the Alphas, by the social experimenters who regard the rest of us as Betas. Is there any way out of the maze?

(Or should I be looking for the right lever to push to get my reward? Nah, they probably think that being part of this glorious experiment in egalitarianism is its own reward.)

posted by Eric on 01.07.10 at 11:33 AM


Sorry, but I don't see this as a completely black vs white issue.

Our security people do gain intelligence from observing the activities of suspects so there is some benefit.

To what degree the benefits are worth the risks is a judgment call, one that could change with changing circumstance and experience.

While I too would prefer that flying be free of terrorist risk, I can see sacrificing some short-term risk for long term gain in busting networks.

I do agree that TSA is overdoing the imposition on average citizens to little security effect. They are doing it because they can. Most of these regulations are security theatre.

I'd love to know how many REAL incidents have been caught with the existing processes. I'll beat they are too few.

Whitehall   ·  January 7, 2010 1:46 PM

Adopting the most parody-paranoid persona you can snide up when explaining any government action is the least wrong way to explain it, usually.

But being right almost every time you put on that mask can make it sticky, and then it doesn't work anymore.

As long as "butthole" can fit in your crazy rants, you're still sane. Paranoids aren't funny (except Charles Manson).

guy on internet   ·  January 7, 2010 2:11 PM

Seriously, you can't parody them anymore, you can only point and laugh.
I mean really, how do you argue about that?
This guy was the definition of Terrorist, one each.
Paid cash for ticket, traveling alone, no luggage, has ties to terrorists, flying from terror-exporting country.

They just can't let people like that fly into America. Not unless you give himm a full body-cavity search and x-ray and have some air marshall sit next to him. While he's in a strait-jacket and a mouth-guard.
al Quaeda and these lunatics will do anything to kill. Think of the dude with the ass bomb trying to see some Saudi prince.

Veeshir   ·  January 7, 2010 6:34 PM

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