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General News    H4'ed 3/24/19

Bush/Cheney politically-driven TSA inspections return: The ICE and TSA Role as Journalist Harasser and Media 'Watchdog'

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By Dave Lindorff

Author's boarding pass with 'ICE Security' stamp on it, placed there at Heathrow and calling for a special security search
Author's boarding pass with 'ICE Security' stamp on it, placed there at Heathrow and calling for a special security search
(Image by Dave Lindorff/ThisCantBeHappening.net)
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Sometimes you have to leave the United States to understand how far this country has evolved towards becoming a police state.

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I got a good example of this just last week on a trip with my harpsichordist wife to Vienna where she had been contracted to perform on Austrian State Radio in Vienna a concert of music by a leftist Jewish composer who settled in the US after fleeing from Austria just ahead of the Nazi Anschluss that took over and incorporated that country into Germany.

In retrospect, the first indication of a problem occurred the night before our flight, when we tried to make our seat assignments and print our boarding passes for the next day's flight. My wife managed to easily get both her passes for the London Heathrow leg and for the leg on to the Vienna International Airport. My boarding pass for the second leg of the trip came up and got printed okay too, but when we tried to print my boarding pass from Philly to London, it wouldn't come up. Instead there was a message on the website saying we'd have to obtain that pass at the check-in counter. (Eventually by trying on both the American Airlines and the partner British Airlines site, she was able to get that boarding pass printed too, somehow.)

At the Philadelphia International Airport, the next day, I got my initial boarding pass without a problem. But going through the TSA security checkpoint, I was pulled aside for what i was told was a "random" special inspection. Later, at our plane change at Heathrow Airport in the UK, at the point in the flight transfer process where we had to go through a passport and security check, I was told my boarding pass was "not recognized" and that I'd need to go to the airline check-in counter in an adjacent room to obtain a new one. It seemed a little odd - my wife's boarding pass had checked out fine, and our itinerary showed both our names and our adjacent seat reservations for the next flight. But I still naively marked the glitch up to bureaucracy or an inadequate home printer that wasn't working in the scanner

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Silly me.

A week later, when it came time to book our seats for the return flight home, the American Airlines website let us make our seat reservations for the entire trip and to place my wife's boarding passes for the two legs of the flight home on her cell phone. But I was only able to access and print the boarding pass for the first leg from Vienna back to Heathrow. Each time we tried to get my second boarding pass for the Heathrow-to-Philadelphia leg , as had happened a week earlier before our first flight, a message appeared saying we'd have to go the airline ticket counter in London, show my passport, and obtain a boarding pass there.

Clearly this was much more than a glitch...


For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: https://thiscantbehappening.net/transportation-security-agency-as-government-media-watchdog/

(Article changed on March 26, 2019 at 22:42)

 

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)
 
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Dave Lindorff

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I'm finding it amazing that on this site, nobody's interested in this report on the continuing existence of a TSA harassment list for journalists and political activists deemed "enemies" by the government.


Have things gotten so bad that this is now a "ho-hum" story? Or is it just OpEd News readers. It is the lead piece on Counterpunch today, and is getting a lot of hits on ThisCantBeHappening.net, but surprisingly, no comments on OpEd News.


Dave Lindorff

Submitted on Monday, Mar 25, 2019 at 2:16:22 PM

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Leslie Johnson

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Well, if it helps, I quietly cuss GW under my breath every time I take off my shoes, get x-rayed, and patted down, to boot. This homeland security BS angers me because of the lie that we had been attacked by terrorists. The only terrorists behind 9/11 were our own 'masterminds' that concocted it so we could go to war on a lie.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 8:31:33 AM

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Dave Lindorff

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It may seem like a small thing to find one's self having to submit to being searched at every security check at the airport on a trip because of being on a TSA watch list provided by the Department of Homeland Security, but it's much more serious than having a five minute or ten minute delay in your journey to the departure gate might appear. If you were legitimately a questionable security risk to fliers, it could be understandable: say if you had recently traveled to Yemen or to Syria, or had, as a journalist doing research on America's gun culture, visited some online weapons ordering sites looking at what was available to purchase. But as I demonstrated here, that is not what is going on with these searches. My wife's luggage, while right there 20 feet from where min bag was being examined, was not looked at, nor was she questioned. Only my bag, which actually had some of my and some of her clothing in it and could as easily have been her bag. That's not a security check. It's a harassment exercise. And don't tell me that the UK security officer examining me was negligent. The UK thanks to years of domestic terrorism during the Northern Ireland "troubles," and later Islamic-linked bombings, is at least as aggressive and diligent as our own security agencies here in the US. They were acting kind of disultary about searching me and my property because they knew that US Homeland Security wanted me harassed, not actually searched for safety reasons. Everyone should be concerned about this practice, which began during the Bush/Cheney administration. Fear of terrorism has been used shamelessly in the US since 9/11 in 2001 to get the American public to accept as normal the broad and invasive government monitoring of all of our lives, our communications, our relationships, our travel, our writing, our purchases and our very thoughts. The government also wants us to know that if we take any kind of oppositional stance against government policies, that we will pay a cost -- that freedom of speech will be only for those willing to face harassment, possibly loss of a job, humiliation, etc. To update an old comment made during the rise of the the Nazi Party in Germany: "First they came for the Muslims, but I didn't speak up because I'm not a Muslim. Then they came for the journalists, and I didn't speak up because I'm not a journalist, and finally they came to me, but no one spoke up because nobody was left to speak up."


Let us not let that happen here. Homeland Security, ICE and the TSA need to be brought to heel! Dave Lindorff founding editor of ThisCantBeHappening.net

Submitted on Monday, Mar 25, 2019 at 7:56:09 PM

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Dave: You should ask your Senators to look into this. They will get an answer and probably it won't happen again.


I had a friend who went through something 20 times worse, and former US Senator Jeff Bingaman got him of the no fly-TSA hassle check list very quickly.


He went through 3 years of hassles and he flew a lot as a filmmaker.

Submitted on Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019 at 3:08:55 PM

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I already tried with one of our two PA senators, and was told by the aide I was directed to that the could file a complaint with Homeland Security but would probably just be told it was a "national security" issue. I'll try the other one.

Submitted on Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019 at 4:02:44 PM

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Hosea McAdoo

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USA is now a repressive dictatorship guarded by a police state.

Submitted on Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019 at 8:11:32 PM

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I think you overstate the case. I have lived and worked in one police state (China), and visited and worked in another (East Germany). I also visited Czechoslovakia in the era before the brief liberalization under Dubzhek. I can assure you that what we have in the US is not yet a police state (unless you happen to be a person of color, in which case it already is one and has been since its founding). We have basically complete freedom of speech, freedom of the press, almost full freedom of assembly, and other freedoms that are still honored and routinely made use of by the public.

To claim otherwise is to scare people into hunkering down and keeping quiet. We need people to exercise their freedoms, to rally, to shout, to write, to organize and to defend those who are cracked down on (including especially people of color, who certainly do have their freedoms violated all the time). So don't overstate the case, explain it, and use your rights yourself as an example to others.

Dave Lindorff

founding editor of ThisCantBeHappening.net

Submitted on Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019 at 8:41:27 PM

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