Monday, July 24, 2006


Conservative and neoconservative proponents of the Patriot Act and similar security measures adopted since 9/11 often insist “potential abuses” cited by civil libertarians are a smokescreen. My blogging colleague Karl over at LSU

has often challenged me and others to demonstrate a situation where these laws have harmed innocent Americans. Well, Karl:

From - hat tip: Huffington Post – we have this:

“Marshals: Innocent People Placed On 'Watch List' To Meet Quota
Marshals Say They Must File One Surveillance Detection Report, Or SDR, Per Month”

“You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they're reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it.

The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.

"Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal….

Although the agency strongly denies any presence of a quota system, Las Vegas-based air marshals have produced documents that show their performance review is directly linked to producing SDRs.”

Not surprising at all. Police departments have often been accused of giving cops quotas for things as simple as traffic tickets… In fairness, “quotas” - numerically based performance standards, if you prefer – are one of the few metrics that can be applied to independent field personnel. But still:

“What kind of impact would it have for a flying individual to be named in an SDR?

"That could have serious impact ... They could be placed on a watch list. They could wind up on databases that identify them as potential terrorists or a threat to an aircraft. It could be very serious," said Don Strange, a former agent in charge of air marshals in Atlanta. He lost his job attempting to change policies inside the agency.”

Sounds tangible to me… Well, Karl… anyone??? Or will this abuse just be one more on a rapidly multiplying list the right refuses to recognize?

You know, I think Republicans need a new mascot. The Elephant doesn’t describe them properly… The Ostrich would be much more accurate…

The "tangible harm" you are citing is due to poor management, and policy; not due to the law.

I seriously doubt that the LAW requires a quota system for these reports.

This kind of thing is instituted by managers who are trying to prove to their bosses that their people are DOING THINGS.

No different than body counts in Viet Nam, or your own examples from the police.
Yep, you pretty much said it aurelius. Plus, lets face it this still doesn't show tangible harm. It shows potential harm. Big difference. Basically the argument here is the potential harm (problems with flying) of this program is worse than the actual hard (higher insurance rates) from traffic ticket quotas. Its pretty weak. Given the dire warnings about Patriot as well as the Unholy Pure EEeeevil of George Bush you would think after several years there would be more abuse. I mean Bush and Chainey are power mad right?

That's right, they are Power Mad!!!! Their lust for power knows no bounds. Now, the evil circle is complete. The seventh seal is finally decoded. I am the come death, and my name is "PATRIOT". After all the hard work to dupe the American people and rig two elections they have achieved that ultimate evil goal, they have made notes on passengers acting funny! World domination is now assured, Halliburton will own your soul!

Seriously - everything becomes a slippery slope if a Republican is president. If the president is a Democrat, nothing but blue skies ahead. Where was the lefts same concern for abuse when Clinton was in office? He wanted ( and got some ) programs with far greater abuse potential. National Health care and the Echelon warrentless surveillance program as examples. Answer, no where, because there is no actual concern here, its all about taking pot shots at a Republican, nothing more.

When the left starts worrying about the government having too much power over the indivdual I think most peoples bullshit detector starts ringing loud and clear.
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