The transition to a police state will not come about with a dramatic coup d’etat, with battering rams and marauding militia. As we have experienced first-hand in recent years, it will creep in softly, one violation at a time, until suddenly you find yourself being subjected to random patdowns and security sweeps during your morning commute to work or quick trip to the shopping mall.Further down, Whitehead explains that:
Perhaps you have yet to experience the particular thrill, and I use that word loosely, of being manhandled by government agents, having your personal possessions pawed through, and your activities and associations scrutinized. If so, not to worry. It’s only a matter of time before more and more Americans will experience such a military task force knocking at their door. Only, chances are that it won’t be a knock, and they might not even be at home when government agents decide to “investigate” them. Indeed, as increasing numbers of Americans are discovering, these so-called “soft target” security inspections are taking place whenever and wherever the government deems appropriate, at random times and places, and without needing the justification of a particular threat. Worse, not only is this happening with the blessing of the Obama administration but at its urging.
What I’m describing--something that was once limited to authoritarian regimes--is only possible thanks to an unofficial rewriting of the Fourth Amendment by the courts that essentially does away with any distinctions over what is “reasonable” when it comes to searches and seizures by government agents. The rationale, of course, is that anything is “reasonable” in the war on terrorism. What the powers-that-be understand--and Americans remain oblivious to--is the fact that by constantly pushing the envelope and testing the limits of what Americans will tolerate, the government is thus able to ratchet up the level of intrusiveness that Americans consider reasonable.
VIPR is the first major step in the government’s effort to secure so-called “soft” targets such as malls, stadiums, bridges, etc. In fact, some security experts predict that checkpoints and screening stations will eventually be established at all soft targets, such as department stores, restaurants, and schools. Given the virtually limitless number of potential soft targets vulnerable to terrorist attack, subjection to intrusive pat-downs and full-body imaging will become an integral component of everyday life in the United States. As Jim Harper of the Cato Institute observed, “The natural illogic of VIPR stings is that terrorism can strike anywhere, so VIPR teams should search anywhere.”The flaws in this jackbooted thug's wet dream should be obvious, but in case they are not, let me explain. First, as with police officers, the TSA can not be everywhere at all times, even if that was desirable. And it is not. Imagine that you are taking the family out for a treat to an Applebees, only to discover that TSA has set up a security theatre operation there. Most people would just drive on by, and go to Ruby Tuesday or Friday's instead. Would Applebee's be somewhat upset at the lost profits? Yeah, I think they might just be. Same goes for Wal Marts, or Shopping Malls, and most other such venues where people have a choice to go or not. Most terrorist would be even more alert to avoid such places. So, while the TSA is harassing Americans who have never contemplated shooting up their friends and neighbors, terrorists will be able to easily evade detection.
Second, the venues mentioned are not within the Federal Governments mandate, but in the State's mandate. It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court saw fit to uphold drunk driving checkpoints (see here.) It was yet another balancing test of the desirability of catching drunk drivers versus the inconvenience to the general public. But the 4th Amendment doesn't have any balancing test; it gives a general command not search people without a warrant or probable cause. In any case, I am sure that will be used at some point to argue that security theatre operations are also legal when the "goal" is to stop terrorists. I am not a lawyer, nor a Constitutional scholar, but so far I am still allowed an opinion, and in my opinion, this case was wrongly decided. It would be better to have someone out there driving under the influence, than to have everyone's rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures absent any probable cause be destroyed. Of course, a full scale security theatre operation inconveniences the citizen more than a checkpoint, but then if time is the defining point, how much time is acceptable, and how much time is clearly beyond the pale?
Third is the cost. We are at the moment debating whether to raise the debt ceiling to cover the deficits the government has been running. Now here comes John Pistole wanting $110 million, up from an exorbitant $30 million in 2009.
It is up to us, the citizens of the States, to resist this police state action at every turn. Short of shooting the bastards, you can do your best to humiliate them in return. Loudly crack jokes about the "testicle squeezing agency" if you see a TSA agent in uniform away from his place of work. Crack jokes about the latest outrage. Call them perverts for sexually assaulting little girls or boys. If you have one living in your neighborhood, place a sign in his front lawn with something like "A Jackbooted Thug lives here." Make them hate their job, and feel ashamed of what they are ordered to do. When you go through the airports, don't tell others it wasn't as bad as you thought. It was bad. If a stranger on the street came up to you and wanted to run his hands over your body, you would be deeply offended, and if he did it, you would have him or her arrested. It is really no different when someone puts on a state costume and does it. You have a right to be offended. Be offended.
These security theatre operations are designed to numb the citizens to police state actions. They are designed not to provide actual security, something they could never actually accomplish, but to change the relationship between you, the citizen, and the State. They are designed to eventually dominate, intimidate, and control you. In the eyes of the elites, YOU are the terrorist. Indeed, this administration doesn't even see an enemy abroad. It sees YOU as the enemy.
Update: Ron Paul has introduced a bill to turn airport security over to private screeners here.