A multi-billion dollar industry has spawned surveillance and security systems with a supporting army of guards, agents, supervisors and security personnel. They keep us in line and keep us safe from the omnipresent threat of an ubiquitous, all-pervasive mythical terror. Thrust at us by a compliant media are over-hyped and sensationalized reports, hysterical speeches and horrifying attacks that almost very nearly happen or, as we are told, WILL happen, sometime soon, and are all so big and so scary that you must place your water bottle in the bin and take your shoes off to survive. It's all designed to paralyze our senses and reduce us to strip-searched carcasses as we sleepwalk along the travelators through naked scanners...
Airport security is a racket. It always has been.
It is one of the newest, most highly profitable and surely the most invasive and humiliating. And it is international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in clothing, privacy and dignity.
The Airport Security racket is best described, I believe, as the promise of safety from the illusory climate of fear that appears real to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group of politicians and corporations know that not to be true. It is conducted for the benefit of this elitist club, at the expense of everyone who dares to travel. A few people are making huge fortunes from the War on Terror™
1. Airport Security is a racket
Although it may not at first glance appear so, the racket is a simple one: Tech companies have products and services they want to sell. These products haven't actually been proven effective in terms of providing 'security', but with government partnerships a need is created through fear-based marketing to convince the general populous that they are needed for their own safety.
A classic example of fear-based marketing is seen with multinational disinfectant manufacturers using terrifying adverts that show bacteria lurking on every surface to scare the public into believing they are not safe without obsessive hand-washing and surface disinfecting.
Rohit Bhargava writes:
Fear marketers paint the picture of what your life might be like if you don't get their product. They play into already existing fears, or paint new ones that consumers may never have considered. The end result is the consumer perception that the advertised product or service is a necessity to keep their family safe, make their life less dangerous, or avoid a situation they dread. But should we do it? Doesn't this type of marketing just add to the plague of society, fostering fear and making us a weaker people as a result? Probably - but the problem with fear marketing is that it often works.In the above example, yes it does work. The net result is a modification of consumer habits, profits for the companies despite increasing concerns over whether the increased use of these products is in fact damaging to health.
Last year's over-hyped swine flu fiasco is another very good example of collusion between Big Pharma, the World Health Organization and Governments to use scare tactics and an artificial sense of urgency to market vaccines and hygiene products to terrified consumers. As we saw later, the threat that manifested was nothing like the apocalyptic predictions being made by the very people and organizations who gained financially. In many cases the inoculations caused far more harm than the virus itself.
The Airport Security Industry behaves in similar ways to sell its products to Government agencies. The companies use various lobbying methods, sweeteners and backhanders to sell the need for their products to governments who in turn use fear-based marketing to sell the validity investments to their taxpayers.
This is where the spin-off impact of the War on Terror™ is being used to full effect, the roots of which are well documented and the subject of several must-see documentaries that shed light on the merger of geopolitics, psychological marketing techniques and corporations.
The film producer Adam Curtis provides us with two such compelling documentaries that are essential background viewing. The first, The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear is a three part documentary first broadcast in 2004 on the BBC. The films compare the rise of the Neo-Conservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamic movement, making comparisons on their origins and highlighting similarities between the two. With extensive supporting archive footage, it presents a strong case that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organised force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda™, is a myth perpetuated by politicians in many countries - but particularly by American Neo-Conservatives - in an attempt to unite and subvert their people against the perceived failure of earlier, more utopian ideologies.
The second recommended documentary: 'The Century of the Self' analyzes the different conceptions of the self in the twentieth century, and how these conceptions were ultimately used by corporations to manipulate consumers into purchasing their products. Curtis is justifiably critical of corporate capitalism and the story he tells about the relationship between the differing conceptions of individualism and the capitalist, democratic institutions (corporations and governments) which organize themselves around these conceptions.
The documentaries together provide valuable historical insight into how the War of Terror™ meme was, and still is - albeit under a more subtle re-branded format - publicised ad infinitum. By creating a climate of fear, corporations in cahoots with governments firstly persuade us that the fear is real and secondly modify our behavior to accept decreases in civil liberties and submit to new security technology such as full body scanning that they claim will protect us from the unquantifiable, omnipresent danger of Islamic fundamentalism.
The effectiveness of how persuasion is used to modify behavior is well researched:
Persuasion is an important part of communication. It is basically the process of changing people's minds. Whether it be a politician grasping for that final vote, or a major advertiser striving to increase sales of a certain product, or an environmentalist organization eager to convince people to recycle, it is a common occurrence. One may be persuaded and not even know about it. It isn't necessarily a conscious action; persuasion can occur subconsciously as well.The Neocon Bush administration really did go to town in its efforts to sell 'other things' - i.e. that the only way to stop attacks against civilians was to start a war against the extreme human emotion that results from the attacks! All the while no threat actually existed. Damming evidence recently came to light in Tom Ridge's autobiography. The first head of the 9/11-inspired Department of Homeland Security, claimed that he "was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over."
In the act of persuasion, attitude change is extremely important (Severin and Tankard). One can be persuaded of an argument, but that does not mean that one will practice what he/she has heard. In changing people's attitudes, or predispositions toward things (Severin and Tankard), the politician/advertiser/environmentalist group will be in the process of changing people's behaviors. And behavioral changes are the most important.
One way of influencing people through persuasive messages is through the use of fear appeals. They are used to threaten or arouse fear in an audience in order to stimulate attitude change (Severin and Tankard). An example of a fear appeal in the 90's is the "Brain on Drugs" campaign, where a fried egg represented the damaging effects of drugs on teenagers' brains.
With the increase of technology and power of the media come more and more instances in which fear appeals are used. Not only are fear appeals used to sell products, but they are used to promote health, hygiene, and other things.
Ridge is referring to the ridiculous terror threat level meters that are raised at crucial times to heighten the level of fear and play into the hands of a leader who many Americans believed would protect them. After his resignation, Ridge was replaced by Michael Chertoff who, as we now see, is playing a pivotal role in the media's promotion of the naked scanner campaign.
This year, like every year since 9/11, we have witnessed a multitude of blatant examples of media complicity in fear-based reporting. The strategy involves perpetuating the climate of fear while promoting the technologies to offer protection. It is the sheer frequency and regularity of these terror alerts that conditions the general public into accepting that it must be real. Even though many 'terrorists' are arrested, very few are convicted, most being quietly acquitted through lack of evidence.
underwear bomber was really the launching point for the current artificially-induced panic to introduce the naked body scanners on a global scale. It also revealed very obvious examples of media support.
It was predictable that the underwear farce would produce yet more ridiculous "security measures" and outbreaks of hysteria. Clearly the most infuriating idea our beloved leaders have come up with is the full-body scanner (aka digital strip-searcher, aka pervscanner), as if airport security wasn't already humiliating enough. We are told these contraptions were operational long ago but were shelved because of "privacy concerns." In any case, whatever concerns people may have, the pathocracy expects to silence them with the absurd story that "internet chatter" on Arab websites has revealed that Al Qaeda™ is planning to insert 'surgical bombs' inside its terrorists, to be detonated with a self-injected hypodermic syringe. The imaginary commanders of non-existent Al Qaeda™ are best advised not to bother with such sophistication: the body scanners can't even detect powder explosives anyway.
Vague "security-related" incidents have resulted in hysterical reactions on planes and at airports in India, the UK and the US, where in one case Newark airport went into total chaos with outgoing planes grounded and hundreds of passengers forced to await re-screening as everybody was evacuated from the main terminal... all because a man accidentally went to the wrong terminal and tried to retrace his steps. Apparently it's now considered 'terroristic' to walk the wrong way down a one-way corridor.
'abused' the scanner by ogling at images of a female colleague. This naturally revived concerns about the 'pervscanner' in the public mind. So was it a coincidence that just the next day Rupert Murdoch's tabloid newspaper The Sun pushed the terror propaganda to new fantastic heights by revealing that British spies have 'learned' of Al-Qaeda's new plan to use explosives in breast and buttock implants? The idea is obviously to frighten people into accepting the scanners and more. Evidently the release of this story was stalled until the opportune moment to counter bad press because it was originally published on February 1 by World Net Daily.
As well as reporting hysteria, the media also lies by omitting important details on the sources of biased opinion polls that are used to over-inflate public support.
The mainstream media was quick to publicize the findings of a survey that showed widespread public support for the global drive to install 'naked' full-body scanners at airports.
Articles such as Sky News: UK Holidaymakers Back Use Of Full-Body Scanners and Agence France-Presse: Opinion poll: US anti-terror too lax, uncritically repeated the report's findings without questioning the reliability of the survey or mentioning the conflict of interests held by those in the security industry who stand to profit from rolling out these dangerous machines.
There was, however, one glaring omission from these and the many media reports that published 'news' articles based on the Unisys press release. That is who Unisys is, their connections with government, military, Homeland security, the Transportation Services Authority (TSA) and how they profit from airport security technologies. The failure of the mainstream media to report the true source and motives behind this survey was a clear example of how they lie by omitting the most important facts. It also gives an indication of the underhand skulduggery that the media, companies and governments resort to in order to reap the rewards.
2. Who makes the profits?
The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.Within days of the explosive underwear incident Roosevelt's definition of the fascist ownership of the government by controlling private powers was clear to see: Reuters was reporting that the "greater U.S. government shift toward using the high-tech devices could create a boom for makers of security imaging products, and it has already created a speculative spike in share prices in some companies."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
James Ridgway reported on the key government officials following the script presented to them by the tech corporations:
Within days or even hours of the bombing attempt, everyone was talking about so-called whole-body imaging as the magic bullet that could stop this type of attack. In announcing hearings by the Senate Homeland Security Commitee, Joe Lieberman approached the use of scanners as a foregone conclusion, saying one of the "big, urgent questions that we are holding this hearing to answer" was "Why isn't whole-body-scanning technology that can detect explosives in wider use?" Former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff told the Washington Post, "You've got to find some way of detecting things in parts of the body that aren't easy to get at. It's either pat downs or imaging, or otherwise hoping that bad guys haven't figured it out, and I guess bad guys have figured it out."The 'bad guys' have figured it out because they are the ones on center-stage manipulating policy and raiding the taxpayer kitty in true "Act now or we'll crash the markets" Wall Street pillage-style.
Yet the rush toward full-body scans already seems unstoppable. They were mandated today as part of the "enhanced" screening for travelers from selected countries, and hundreds of the machines are already on order, at a cost of about $150,000 apiece.The rapid pre-planned responses to staged events have raised big red flags throughout the past decade's terror campaign. They're reminiscent of those "here's one I made earlier!" moments on daytime TV cookery shows where the presenter whips out a perfect cake, except of course that it's not disclosed to us that the incidents were staged in order to roll out the technology.
Which brings us to the money shot. The body scanner is sure to get a go-ahead because of the illustrious personages hawking them. Chief among them is former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff, who now heads the Chertoff Group, which represents one of the leading manufacturers of whole-body-imaging machines, Rapiscan Systems. For days after the attack, Chertoff made the rounds on the media promoting the scanners, calling the bombing attempt "a very vivid lesson in the value of that machinery" - all without disclosing his relationship to Rapiscan. According to the Washington Post:The drive to develop innovative successors to the current generation of scanning technology is like a runaway train. The number of companies who have smelt the whiff of mountains of cash are conjuring up more and more innovative ways of building a large box-type thing for people to walk into and be zapped by whatever they can get away with firing.Chertoff's advocacy for the technology dates back to his time in the Bush administration. In 2005, Homeland Security ordered the government's first batch of the scanners - five from California-based Rapiscan Systems.The Washington Examiner last week ran down an entire list of all the former Washington politicians and staff members who are now part of what it calls the "full-body scanner lobby":
Today, 40 body scanners are in use at 19 U.S. airports. The number is expected to skyrocket at least in part because of the Christmas Day incident. The Transportation Security Administration this week said it will order 300 more machines.
In the summer, TSA purchased 150 machines from Rapiscan with $25 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.One manufacturer, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is American Science & Engineering, Inc. AS&E has retained the K Street firm Wexler & Walker to lobby for "federal deployment of security technology by DHS and DOD." Individual lobbyists on this account include former TSA deputy administration Tom Blank, who also worked under House Speaker Newt Gingrich.Chad Wolf - former assistant administrator for policy at TSA, and a former aide to Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., a top Senate appropriator and the ranking Republican on the transportation committee - is also lobbying on AS&E's behalf.
Smiths Detection, another screening manufacturer, employs top transportation lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates, including Kevin Patrick Kelly, a former top staffer to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who sits on the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee. Smiths also retains former congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.
Former Sen. Al D'Amato, R-N.Y., represents L3 Systems, about which Bloomberg wrote today: "L-3 has 'developed a more sophisticated system that could prevent smuggling of almost anything on the body,' said Howard Rubel, an analyst at Jefferies & Co., who has a 'hold' rating on the stock."
Tom Burghardt illustrates the value of the contracts that are changing hands in the new X-ray rush:
While Republicans and Democrats squabble over who's "tougher" when it comes to invading and pillaging other nations (in the interest of "spreading democracy" mind you), a planetary grift dubbed the "War on Terror," waiting in the wings are America's new snake-oil salesmen.Along with the increased control that these new systems give to governments over their citizens, it is the profitability of these new security measures that ensure corrupt officials do whatever it takes to get the message across.
Welcome to Scannergate!
With airport security all the rage, companies that manufacture whole body imaging technologies and body-scanners stand to make a bundle as a result of last December's aborted attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. [The underpants fiasco]
Like their kissin' cousins at the Pentagon, poised to bag a $708 billion dollar windfall in the 2011 budget, securocrats over at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stand to vacuum-up some $56.3 billion next year, a $6 billion increase.
Reflecting Homeland Security's "fiscal discipline and responsibility," at the top of the wish-list are what officials describe as increased spending for Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA).
In 2011, the Department says it is requesting $217.7M to "install 500 advanced imaging technology machines at airport checkpoints to detect dangerous materials, including non-metallic materials."
"This request," coupled "with planned deployments for 2010, will provide AIT coverage at 75 percent of Category X airports and 60 percent of the total lanes at Category X through II airports."
Next up is a $218.9M demand for "Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to Staff AITs." New funds are required for "additional TSOs, managers and associated support costs to operate AITs at airport checkpoints."
"You need these scanners, they're for your protection and whether you like it or not, you're gonna pay for them."
3. Who pays the bills?
It's a no-brainer really... you are. The loyal law-abiding taxpayers are paying for it. Both financially and socially.
The taxes you pay to the IRS are being diverted away from constructive and crucial programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and instead, being redirected to Scanner-raid.
If you are an air traveler it is also possible that you are paying airport authorities directly to upgrade their security systems through airport taxes and landing fees.
The social costs are alarming: humiliation, inhumane treatment, brutality, loss of privacy and potential health risks.
child-attacking dogs and hand swabbing. There has been a marked increase in brutality, cruel investigative procedures and inhumane treatment of ordinary passengers combined with hysterical over-reactions to ensure the people are reminded that the fake war on terror is real.
In Detroit an Indian man cut through a passenger security checkpoint without a ticket, boarding pass and luggage. The result: He was tasered by an FBI agent, wrestled down and handcuffed. Panicked passengers fled the terminal after a full scale evacuation and flights were delayed for hours.
In Canada, which is also introducing full-body scanners in 44 major airports (at a cost of $11 million), an 85 year old Canadian woman was subjected to a humiliating search prior to boarding an internal flight. The woman was asked to remove her boots and then unzip her pants. A female inspection officer then poked at her abdomen.
In the UK, despite assertions that naked scanning would not be racially targeted, predictably, a Muslim woman became the first passenger to be barred from a flight after refusing to enter the £80,000 Rapiscan naked body scanner.
The real underlying issue here that few are talking about is that the scanners emit terahertz waves which, according to a study carried out at Los Alamos National Laboratory, could "...unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication." This is not just another bad joke to be endured with our usual stoicism: it is a direct attack on the health of the population, and further proof that our well being, whatever about their "privacy concerns" or our "security", has never been of any interest to the ruling elite. It's one thing to be held in utter contempt as your dignity is trampled upon; it's another thing altogether for your very DNA to be interfered with "for your protection." We can learn to strategically adapt to the former; but pretty soon there will be no getting around the latter if you want to fly anywhere.
Any discussion of the damaging effects of the DNA-zapping-machine, such as its link to causing miscarriages is obscured by a marginal concern for the radiation exposure its use presents, which appears to be minimal. The pretend debate is distracting people towards indignation over privacy concerns which, justifiable as they are, pale in comparison with having one's DNA ripped apart.
Just like the disinfectant and vaccine producers, the tech companies have completely ignored valid health concerns with the new airport scanner technology, They have ignored the protests of civil liberties and privacy campaigners outraged at what amounts to a virtual strip search of dubious reliability.
4. How to smash this racket!
WELL, it's a racket, all right.
A few profit - and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it.
In January 1961 American president Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a famous speech warning of the dangers of the 'Military-Industrial Complex'. His words are just as applicable to the new Airport Security Industrial Complex, where the lure of profits outweigh considerations of the effects on individuals. Eisenhower warned:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
5. To hell with Naked Scanners!
On previous failed introductions of expensive security devises Ridgway writes:
In forecasting the fate of the full-body scanners, we can turn to recent history, which saw the rapid rise - and decline - of the previous "miracle" screening technology. In the years following 9/11, dozens of explosive trace portals (ETPs) were installed in airports across the country, at a cost of about $160,000 each. These "puffer" machines - so called because they blow air on passengers to dislodge explosive particles - were once celebrated as the "no-touch pat down." But in a Denver test by CBS in 2007, a network employee was sprayed with explosives and then walked through the airport's three puffers without any trouble. The machines also set off false alarms, and they frequently broke down, leading to sky-high maintenance costs.We don't know exactly what the next generation of invasive security technology will bring or the specific body-part-terror-weapon-concealment that will be invented and hyped-up to sell them. But we know because of the easy money to be made, they are in the pipeline.
After spending more than $30 million on the puffer machines - most of them purchased from GE - the TSA announced earlier this year that it was suspending their use. Only about 25 percent of the machines were ever even deployed at US airports. A report last month from the Government Accountability Office found that the TSA had not adequately tested the puffers before buying them.
What will happen if the full-body scanner goes the way of the puffer? Well, there's always the next generation of security equipment: the Body Orifice Security Scanner, or BOSS chair. This contraption, which has an uncomfortable resemblance to an electric chair, is used in prisons, mostly in the UK, for tracing cell phones, shivs, and other dangerous contraband that's been swallowed or inserted into body cavities by inmates. So far, it only detects metal, but you never know.
The airport security implementation of naked body scanners is a racket.
If Smedley Butler were alive today, I am sure he would say;
To hell with Naked Scanners!