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Screwing Over the Public For Fun & Profit in the War on Terror

Loathing of the TSA couldn't be higher and this is a very good thing. But it didn't just happen. Total disgust with security screening has been here for awhile. It just took Tyner's "don't touch my junk" video to light the already short fuse attached to the public's dynamite.

Everyone knows someone with a bad story to tell. For me, it's a football watching buddy -- white and retired -- who informed that TSA had taken a couple little breakfast jelly containers, the little plastic things many resorts make available to guests in the morning, off him. Beware those tiny potential bombs disguised as breakfast condiments!

Last week, a smaller item passed almost unnoticed due to current furor. It concerned the interception of a penetration test in Namibia.

The Associated Press reported:

A suspicious package found in a Namibian airport near bags bound for Munich was a device designed to test security and didn't contain explosives, officials said Friday. One aviation official said the test was conducted by Namibian police.

Wednesday's discovery of the package at Windhoek airport came the same day that Germany raised its terrorist alert level.

German security experts determined that the bag was a "real test case" made by an American firm to test security measures, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters Friday.

Since the American corporate model with regards to national security is only concerned with making devices and using resources to constantly set up tests after al Qaeda tries something -- which often fails -- this is depressingly familiar. That it caused German security to jump is probably a cause for jubilation at someone's business.

The wretched paradox is that there is now way more manpower, money and resources in US private sector business exploring such things than there are actual terrorists trying to do the real thing. al Qaeda could only wish to have such an infrastructure with freedom to operate.

In other words, the corporate business of national security in the war on terror doesn't give a rat's ass about the American public. It likes a state of affairs where the government blindly buys whatever technology it peddles. It can simply sell even more stuff by falsely advertising that its future mechanisms will defuse public anger.

And this is why a current Republican politician's suggestion to hand over screening to the private sector is even worse than the situation we have now.

Republican rep John Mica of Florida wants to give to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, companies already profiting quite handsomely from the war on terror. They are Mica's biggest political contributors, businesses which have been greasing him for some time.

Which demonstrates again how the corporate national security infrastructure has it both ways. It gets to outrage the public and then exploit further any hatred that brews up against the TSA by making a grab for even more business.

Another Associated Press piece on this affair, and the growth of the TSA, was published over the weekend.

It read:

"TSA set up 'go teams' pairing government employees with executives from companies including Marriott International Inc., The Walt Disney Co., and Intel Corp., to figure out how to move lines of people through checkpoints efficiently and how to deal with angry travelers."

There are couple key differences between people in lines at a resort hotel or at the Walt Disney Company. And they again illustrate how intelligence-insulting the TSA and our national security leaders in this matter like to be.

For example, people going to Disneyland or a hotel on holiday are usually doing so because they're in a good frame of mind, cooperative and happy about their destinations. And the businesses in the hospitality and recreation sectors are not really interested in alienating their patrons. In fact, just the opposite.

However, the same does not hold for people entering US airports. They now hate the experience.

So anything one might learn on how to handle large masses and lines of people from the former, isn't really applicable to the latter.

Things being the way they are, if I were a mediocre al Qaeda plotter I'd now be trying to find some mentally pliable and unfit recruit to carry a cardboard suppository or cartridge in his rectum. Not because it would actually reliably work but because of the news and reaction it would generate.

The suppository could be filled with something guaranteed to be debilitating by the time the al Qaeda man was on an airplane bound for Europe from some dreadful country where bribes are elementary.

In fact, our mastermind would want him to be found by western counter-terror men. So unreliability and chickening out mid-plot wouldn't be such liabilities. In fact, if you could do it with two people at two different locations, that would be even better.

You know where I'm going with this. Dark places.

The reaction in the United States would be wonderful to watch unfold.

"See what I can make those people do to themselves," the man would say to his comrades. Merriment all around.

In fact, they already have the nut of the idea. al Qaeda has learned well that even spectacular fail is good, an observation shared by the US security industry.

From an entry at The Economist, on the latest issue of al Qaeda's Better Bombs and Plots magazine, Inspire:

"One article enlightens readers on how two Nokia mobiles, two HP printers, cheap explosives and three months' work for a team of "less than six," has forced Barack Obama to frantically pump dollars into airport security, further weakening the American economy. "It is such a good bargain for us to spread fear amongst the enemy and keep [Mr Obama] on his toes ... '"

The astute reader will again wryly note that excessive pat downs have no relevance to the latest failed plot.

The White House, naturally, has tried to make polite calming noises, stuff no one takes seriously. And the TSA's fearless leader has warned the public not to boycott scanning on Thanksgiving Day showing he's somewhat worried that if enough people do so it might actually create a national problem impossible to brush off over the holidays.

We are just carrying out orders, unions for TSA workers informed the Washington Post and others, today.

No truth to the rumor, yet, that al Qaeda is about to name the underwear bomber the greatest terrorist ever and endow a chair at a school in Yemen in his name.

This post was published in an earlier form at Dick Destiny blog.

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