TSA Plan To Outsource PreCheck Would Let Companies Access Credit Card Data, Social Media Posts

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The Transportation Security Administration has proposed the outsourcing of PreCheck to private companies, a proposal that would allow companies to access the credit card data and social media posts of those applying for the program.

PreCheck allows selected passengers to skip security lines at airports.

However, privacy advocates are alarmed that the TSA is turning over what should be a government responsibility to the private sector, which has less checks on it than the public sector.

Some, though, say that TSA does not have the necessary budget or personnel to continue to do the PreCheck program without help from outside companies.

Chris Calabrese, senior policy director at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a Washington-based think tank, is not sure how the companies would use the information they collect about travelers.

He stated to the Washington Times:

If PreCheck says for whatever reason I am a higher-danger traveler, what is DHS or TSA supposed to do with that information? Should I be watch-listed? Should I be given a chance to contest? These are very hard questions with real consequences. If I’m a traveler who thinks I’m signing up for the fast lane and it turns out I’m really signing up for the ‘you get searched every single time you go through’ lane, it’s less customer service.

Advocates of the program think that private companies would help market PreCheck to more people and provide better customer service.

Patricia Rojas, vice president of government relations at the U.S. Travel Association, stated: “It’s a win-win proposition because it allows the U.S. government to take a more focused approach to our homeland security as opposed to the system that we originally developed where we basically just had a blanket review of everyone.”

What do you think? Should TSA place PreCheck in private hands or not?

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Should We Just Follow Orders? Rules Of Engagement For Resisting The Police State

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“Let your motto be resistance! resistance! Resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.”—Abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet

The perils of resisting the police state grow more costly with each passing day, especially if you hope to escape with your life and property intact. The thing you must remember is that we’ve entered an age of militarized police in which we’re no longer viewed as civilians but as enemy combatants.

Take, for example, Mary Elizabeth VandenBerg who was charged with disturbing the peace, a crime punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine, for daring to vocalize her frustrations over a traffic ticket by reading a prepared statement to the court clerk and paying her $145 traffic ticket with 145 one-dollar bills. VandenBerg was also handcuffed, tasered, and pepper sprayed for “passively” resisting police by repeatedly stopping and talking to them and stiffening her arms. The incident, filmed by VandenBerg’s brother, is now the subject of a lawsuit.

Zachary Noel was tasered by police and charged with resisting arrest after he questioned why he was being ordered out of his truck during a traffic stop. “Because I’m telling you to,” the officer replied before repeating his order for Noel to get out of the vehicle and then, without warning, shooting him with a taser through the open window. The encounter, recorded with a cell phone by Noel’s friend in the passenger seat, offers a particularly chilling affirmation of how little recourse Americans really have when it comes to obeying an order from a government official or police officer, even if it’s just to ask a question or assert one’s rights.

Eighteen-year-old Keivon Young was shot seven times by police from behind while urinating outdoors. Young was just zipping up his pants when he heard a commotion behind him and then found himself struck by a hail of bullets from two undercover cops. Despite the fact that the officers mistook Young—5’4,” 135 lbs., and guilty of nothing more than taking a leak outdoors—for a 6’ tall, 200 lb. murder suspect whom they later apprehended, the young man was charged with felony resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a peace officer.

What these incidents make clear is that anything short of compliance will now get you charged with any of the growing number of contempt charges (ranging from resisting arrest and interference to disorderly conduct, obstruction, and failure to obey a police order) that get trotted out anytime a citizen voices discontent with the government or challenges or even questions the authority of the powers that be—and that’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario involves getting probed, poked, pinched, tasered, tackled, searched, seized, stripped, manhandled, arrested, shot, or killed.

So what can you really do when you find yourself at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect”? In other words, what are the rules of engagement when it comes to interacting with the police?

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Should We Just Follow Orders? Rules Of Engagement For Resisting The Police State

Photo Credit: WEBN-TV (Creative Commons)

“Let your motto be resistance! resistance! Resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.”—Abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet

The perils of resisting the police state grow more costly with each passing day, especially if you hope to escape with your life and property intact. The thing you must remember is that we’ve entered an age of militarized police in which we’re no longer viewed as civilians but as enemy combatants.

Take, for example, Mary Elizabeth VandenBerg who was charged with disturbing the peace, a crime punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine, for daring to vocalize her frustrations over a traffic ticket by reading a prepared statement to the court clerk and paying her $145 traffic ticket with 145 one-dollar bills. VandenBerg was also handcuffed, tasered, and pepper sprayed for “passively” resisting police by repeatedly stopping and talking to them and stiffening her arms. The incident, filmed by VandenBerg’s brother, is now the subject of a lawsuit.

Zachary Noel was tasered by police and charged with resisting arrest after he questioned why he was being ordered out of his truck during a traffic stop. “Because I’m telling you to,” the officer replied before repeating his order for Noel to get out of the vehicle and then, without warning, shooting him with a taser through the open window. The encounter, recorded with a cell phone by Noel’s friend in the passenger seat, offers a particularly chilling affirmation of how little recourse Americans really have when it comes to obeying an order from a government official or police officer, even if it’s just to ask a question or assert one’s rights.

Eighteen-year-old Keivon Young was shot seven times by police from behind while urinating outdoors. Young was just zipping up his pants when he heard a commotion behind him and then found himself struck by a hail of bullets from two undercover cops. Despite the fact that the officers mistook Young—5’4,” 135 lbs., and guilty of nothing more than taking a leak outdoors—for a 6’ tall, 200 lb. murder suspect whom they later apprehended, the young man was charged with felony resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a peace officer.

What these incidents make clear is that anything short of compliance will now get you charged with any of the growing number of contempt charges (ranging from resisting arrest and interference to disorderly conduct, obstruction, and failure to obey a police order) that get trotted out anytime a citizen voices discontent with the government or challenges or even questions the authority of the powers that be—and that’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario involves getting probed, poked, pinched, tasered, tackled, searched, seized, stripped, manhandled, arrested, shot, or killed.

So what can you really do when you find yourself at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect”? In other words, what are the rules of engagement when it comes to interacting with the police?

Pages: 1 2 3 4

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The Absurd, Bureaucratic Hell That Is the American Police State

Photo Credit: WEBN-TV (Creative Commons)

“The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”—C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Whether it’s the working mother arrested for letting her 9-year-old play unsupervised at a playground, the teenager forced to have his genitals photographed by police, the underage burglar sentenced to 23 years for shooting a retired police dog, or the 43-year-old man who died of a heart attack after being put in a chokehold by NYPD officers allegedly over the sale of untaxed cigarettes, the theater of the absurd that passes for life in the American police state grows more tragic and incomprehensible by the day.

Debra Harrell, a 46-year-old South Carolina working mother, was arrested, charged with abandonment, and had her child placed in state custody after allowing the 9-year-old to spend unsupervised time at a neighborhood playground while the mom worked a shift at McDonald’s. Mind you, the child asked to play outside; was given a cell phone in case she needed to reach someone; and the park—a stone’s throw from the mom’s place of work—was overrun with kids enjoying its swings, splash pad, and shade.

A Connecticut mother was charged with leaving her 11-year-old daughter in the car unsupervised while she ran inside a store—despite the fact that the child asked to stay in the car and was not overheated or in distress. A few states away, a New Jersey man was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of his children after leaving them in a car parked in a police station parking lot, windows rolled down, while he ran inside to pay a ticket.

A Virginia teenager was charged with violating the state’s sexting law after exchanging sexually provocative videos with his girlfriend. Instead of insisting that the matter be dealt with as a matter of parental concern, police charged the boy with manufacturing and distributing child pornography and issued a search warrant to “medically induce an erection” in the 17-year-old boy in order to photograph his erect penis and compare it to the images sent in the sexting exchange. The police had already taken an initial photograph of the boy’s penis against his will, upon his arrest.

In Georgia, a toddler had his face severely burned when a flash bang grenade, launched by a SWAT team during the course of a no-knock warrant, landed in his portable crib, detonating on his pillow. Also in Georgia, a police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old boy who answered the door, reportedly with a Nintendo Wii controller in his hands. The cop claimed the teenager pointed a gun at her, thereby justifying the use of deadly force. Then there was the incident wherein a police officer, responding to a complaint that some children were “chopping off tree limbs” creating “tripping hazards,” pulled a gun on a group of 11-year-old boys who were playing in a wooded area, attempting to build a tree fort.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Tired Of Being Treated Like A Criminal When You Fly? Here’s How To Avoid It Forever

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Summer is a time for vacations, parks, family, sports… and travel.

Often, this includes flying. And ever since 9/11, flying has been a grind.

Following the terrorist attacks, Congress authorized the federal government to nationalize airport security. This led to the creation of a giant, unresponsive, unionized bureaucracy that has taken over the airport screening process.

And like most government power grabs, this one has been a disaster.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) combines the efficiency of the United Auto Workers with the customer service of the Department of Motor Vehicles to create a toxic mix of pain for the unsuspecting airline customer.

Today, the cost of screening has never been higher; and the unpleasantness of the process has never been greater. But I have some practical tips that should help you navigate air travel pitfalls and fly like a VIP this summer.

Avoid Airport Lines… Forever

This summer, the cost of flying is rising dramatically.

Starting on July 21, the TSA security fee – which was fixed at $5 per flight, with a max of $10 per trip – is more than doubling to $11.20. Depending on how many stops your flight includes, the fee could be as high as $28.

Politicians love this sort of tax because someone else gets blamed. Most Americans will just assume that airlines have raised ticket prices, leaving Congress faultless. Meanwhile, the airlines are powerless to stop it.

On the bright side, Congress has been pressuring the TSA to improve its screening process.

The biggest change is the TSA’s new pre-check program. Sometimes, pre-check is randomly assigned; but you can also sign up for it permanently, and I encourage you to take the time to complete the process. If you fly more than once or twice a year, it’ll repay you easily.

Getting TSA pre-check status requires a background check. To join the program, you just apply, sit through an interview, and give your fingerprints. Now, I understand if you’re skeptical about leaving your fingerprints with the TSA… but many Americans are likely already on file. For example, I entered the database years ago when I joined the U.S. Army.

All in all, the pre-check list is wonderful. You don’t take your shoes off. You don’t have to walk through the cancer-causing scanners. You don’t even have to empty your bags or pull out your laptop.

Personally, I was given pre-check when I joined Global Entry, which, if you travel abroad, is highly advantageous. The program allows you to bypass the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on your return to the United States. Instead of standing in a long line, you simply scan your documents at an automated entry kiosk that resembles an ATM; and off you go.

Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a catch.

Power Tripping

You see, the TSA has another list; and if you slip up – say an unkind word or give an obnoxious TSA officer a dirty look – you could land on the list of people who are disqualified from using the pre-check line.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom