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Congress Capitulates To TSA; Refuses To Let Bruce Schneier Testify 435

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the security-threatre-drama-troupe dept.
McGruber writes "Following up on an earlier Slashdot story, earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing titled 'TSA Oversight Part III: Effective Security or Security Theater?' ... In a blog update, Bruce Schneier says that 'at the request of the TSA' he was removed from the witness list. Bruce also said 'it's pretty clear that the TSA is afraid of public testimony on the topic, and especially of being challenged in front of Congress. They want to control the story, and it's easier for them to do that if I'm not sitting next to them pointing out all the holes in their position. Unfortunately, the committee went along with them.'"
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Congress Capitulates To TSA; Refuses To Let Bruce Schneier Testify

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  • Naturally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:35PM (#39479825)
    We would not want to threaten the profits of all those backscatter machine companies by pointing out how little TSA's airport security really accomplishes, now would we? What, you think that because Schneier is a prominent security researcher, he is supposed to be talking about the failures of security programs?
  • Not a Hearing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:36PM (#39479837)
    Cherry picking speakers to support the status quo is just theater, nicely complementing the security theater of the TSA.
  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:37PM (#39479847) Journal

    I thought the congress of the United States is a congress of ALL

    Or am I wrong in this?

    Excluding Mr. Schneier from testifying has violated the charter (if there is one written) of the congress of the United States of America

    Or am I wrong in that also?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:38PM (#39479859)

    if he doesn't keep quiet.

  • Figures (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:39PM (#39479861)
    The committee is controlled by neo-cons. They do not want to hear what is happening. They just want the APPEARANCE of such, esp. with the election around the corner.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:39PM (#39479865)

    Same congress that prevented any women from testifying on women's health issues recently.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:41PM (#39479885)

    If there truly were a population of evil doers who both wished harm on the US and were really willing to work toward that goal, we would have bus stop bombings, etc. in this country. There are tons of unsecured stuff that could be attacked here very easily.

    The fact that such does not occur is proof that such a population is largely non-existent and certainly nowhere near being worth all the BS with the Terrorism Industrial Complex.

  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:43PM (#39479891) Homepage Journal

    Congress has been violating the "charter" AKA The Constitution for years. If you are just noticing this then you need to wake up, get a cup of coffee, read the constitution and find out what has really been going on.

    However, there is no guarantee that you or anyone will get to testify before congress. There is a guarantee that you will be secure in your persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    4th amendment
    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    Can some one point to the airport exclusion? Or where congress amended the constitution to allow this?

  • Facts vs Fiction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BoRegardless (721219) on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:47PM (#39479929)

    Dictatorial government actions often start by "limiting voices", regardless of the country.

    This is not a good omen for getting the best solutions for a critical issue.

    The list of government witnesses in prior hearings were "officials" of various departments, meaning they are managers of employees.

    Eliminating Bruce Schneier from the witness list means they really do NOT want any experts in front of the committee as that could bring up troubling "FACTS".

  • Re:Not a Hearing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:47PM (#39479937)

    what makes you think that lawmakers have our interests at heart or care about fairness?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_Un-American_Activities_Committee [wikipedia.org]

    that was the first one that popped into my head; I'm sure I could find lots of other 'railroaded' committees that didn't care about justice and only wanted to make it seems like there was a process.

    more and more, as you see how 'justice' works, you realize its all a show.

    how sad, huh? to learn how reality works; it really rocks your world view, doesn't it?

  • by Kelson (129150) * on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:50PM (#39479955) Homepage Journal

    This is the same committee that wouldn't let any women testify in a hearing on contraception last month.

    Apparently, if you know something about the topic at hand, they don't want your input.

  • by McGruber (1417641) on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:56PM (#39479999)

    Since it is popular to post "Thanks to TSA, I now drive instead of flying", I will point out that the House and Senate are currently in a showdown that likely will result in a cutoff of federal highway funding.

    Here is a CNN article about the situation: http://articles.cnn.com/2012-03-21/politics/politics_congress-transportation-bill_1_committee-chairman-john-mica-highway-bill-senate-democrats [cnn.com]

    And a FoxNews article: http:/// [http] www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/03/24/obama-urging-congress-to-end-transportation-standoff/

    And a Politico article: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/74498.html [politico.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:57PM (#39480013)

    The purpose of this hearing is not to allow congress to learn hidden facts. It is to convince the public that congress is doing its job, and that its decision to continue funding the TSA and to continue allowing the TSA to perform warrantless invasive searches is the result of a well-scrutinized and carefully considered process.

    Allowing Bruce to testify will not win hearts and minds.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:59PM (#39480027)

    4th amendment "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Can some one point to the airport exclusion? Or where congress amended the constitution to allow this?

    They simply changed the interpretation of "unreasonable". After all you may be a terrorist, citizen.

  • Re:Utter Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:07PM (#39480099)

    I'd rather take the 1 in 1 billion risk of being blown-up in a plane, then the 1 in 100(?) odds of being Xray nude scanned or sexually groped by the government employee.

  • Re:Naturally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:11PM (#39480139)
    Oh, so they called in another expert who has done the same analysis as Schneier, right? Or will it just be the TSA's choice of experts?
  • by hey! (33014) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:13PM (#39480159) Homepage Journal

    This isn't like jury selection. It's more like ... no it actually IS expert testimony.

    I was on a jury recently, and it was everything you'd hope a jury to be. Serious debate. Called for evidence during deliberation to scrutinize. Sent intelligent questions to the judge about the law. Had long, but reasonable discussions. One was a domestic assault case, and there were several people in the medical profession and a prison guard on the jury. They used their experience in their decision but it wasn't taken as testimony. Agonized, agonized, agonized until finding the defendant not guilty.

    Seriously, it was the best group deliberative process I'd ever taken part in, after almost thirty years in business.

  • by Moofie (22272) <lee AT ringofsaturn DOT com> on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:21PM (#39480225) Homepage

    Doesn't give you the right to breathe, either.

    It's almost like some rights are, what's the word? Oh yeah. Inalienable.

  • Re:Not a Hearing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:23PM (#39480243)

    There is no counterexample that the GP's responding to.

    I think where Clint was going is:

    Me: A hearing does not involve cherry picking speakers.
    Counterexample: The House cherry picked speakers for what they called a hearing.
    Me: No TRUE hearing involves cherry picking speakers.

    What I'm getting at is the definition of a hearing is an investigation or examination of facts, and by excluding witnesses and facts what the House was doing was putting on a show.

  • Re:Naturally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qeveren (318805) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:29PM (#39480293)

    If he's in a conflict of interest due to the lawsuit against the TSA, doesn't that mean the TSA shouldn't be allowed to testify either, being involved in a lawsuit involving the TSA? :)

  • Re:Utter Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:32PM (#39480321)

    And this won't happen again because of two things:

    1) Pre-911, a hijacking meant you sit down and stay quiet. The hijackers take over, fly the plane to Cuba (or some other location), make a big statement about some political cause and (after some political negotiations), everyone is set free. Inconvenient? Sure, but in general not life threatening if you sit down and be quiet. However, now if someone hijacks an airplane, everyone will assume they intend to kill everyone on-board. Thus, there is nothing to lose trying to violently overthrow the hijackers. Worst case scenario: Everyone still dies, but might derail the terrorists' plans. Best case scenario: The terrorists are foiled and some/all passengers survive.

    2) The cockpit doors are sealed and reinforced so a terrorist can't get to the cockpit. So even if a terrorist takes over the passenger section *AND* if the passengers don't fight back, the pilots can land the plane to minimize the damage the terrorists can do.

    Even without a single post-911 TSA "advancement", no terrorist will be able to replicate 9-11. (This isn't to say they can't kill more people, just that they can't repeat their previous performance.)

  • by malilo (799198) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:35PM (#39480341)

    You are exactly correct. I was on a boating trip with several couples whom I didn't know and people started complaining about TSA. One poor woman ventured her opinion "but I think it's all ok because it keeps us safe"... I pointed out that I could kill plenty of people by wedging a bit of metal into a commuter track. She gave me a horrified look along with "Why would you even think of that?", but I think I made my point.

    The problem is, they've already got a huge chunk of the country, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, convinced that we are under constant threat of attack. (It's the lizard brain, I guess). So once they put in place checkpoints EVERYWHERE (which yes, is their plan, the fascisty fucks), it will actually be a bit harder to find the evidence you and I have both noted (once everything is surveilled, it will be hard to argue there's been no attacks because no one is trying). Also, I suspect violence would actually go up, as more people joined resistance/anti-fascist/terrorist groups in response to a crackdown. But I'm just speculating.

  • Re:TSA and DHS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by element-o.p. (939033) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:46PM (#39480403) Homepage
    Sigh... THIS IS NOT A LEFT VS. RIGHT THING! THIS IS A GOVERNMENT VS. THE PEOPLE THING!

    As long as the populace wants to blame a Republican or a Democrat, we won't see any change. Both Democrats AND Republicans are to blame for the mockery the U.S. has become since 9/11. They are two sides of the same coin. No matter which side is face up when the coin hits the table, you and I lose. It's time to vote EVERYBODY out of office and start over!
  • Re:Utter Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by element-o.p. (939033) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:58PM (#39480471) Homepage
    I get so tired of hearing this tripe.

    9/11 didn't happen because TSA wasn't on duty yet. 9/11 happened because up until that point, the game went like this:
    "Terrorist" hijacks an airplane
    Everyone sits tight and does what they are told.
    Airplane goes to Cuba (or wherever).
    Everyone goes home a little shaken up, but unharmed after a nice vacation on a tropical island that very few Americans get to see any more.

    That changed on 9/11, and we had already adjusted to the new playing field before the day was done. [wikipedia.org] The new paradigm, and securing the cabin doors, were all that was necessary to ensure that there will NEVER be another 9/11. IMHO, if you really want to prevent another hijacking on an airliner, you'll scrap the TSA and just issue every passenger a Louisville Slugger when they board the airplane. The passengers have the greatest vested interest in the security; stop trying to disarm your greatest allies in the quest for secure airliners!

    And even the argument I pose above begs the ultimate question in the so-called "War on Terror:" WTF were the 9/11 hijackers doing in the country in the first place?!?! If you *start* your security procedure in the airport, you've already screwed the pooch. IIRC, we had reason to believe at least some of the hijackers were bad actors long before they boarded the airplanes in 2001. They never should have been allowed to get to the airport to begin with.
  • Just remember that the constitution does not grant you the right to fly either.

    Actually the American founders though of that problem, and solved it via the Ninth Amendment

    The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    This passage is really genius and its a great pity that the kind of intellectual governance that drafted it no longer exists in the US today.

  • by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:07PM (#39480515)

    And if the facts are on the "liberal" side?

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:10PM (#39480527)

    The only area in which they left for any room for personal judgment was lie detection; that's pretty much all they wanted us for.

    Yes, that's the job of the jury. You get to decide who is telling the truth and who is not, and whether the facts based on those truths support the charges as written in the law.

    So when I told them I think some laws are unjust and would not be able to render a verdict I found sufficiently unjust,

    That's not the job of the jury. That's the job of the courts. If a law is unjust, the finding that it is unjust should apply to ALL, not just a lucky defendant that happens to get you on the jury. It should be the defendent who takes the law to court and gets it overturned, which makes for a formal ruling that other defendants can use.

    You wouldn't want the baliff pulling out his gun and shooting the defendant if the jury comes back with a verdict of guilt in a murder case, would you? That's not his job. The court reporter doesn't ask questions of the people who testify. The judge isn't supposed to ask questions of the defendant or witnesses, either. That's not their jobs.

    If we want justice, we need to understand intention and apply reason to a situation, not mechanically apply a list of technicalities.

    But if you have prejudged that a law is unjust and improper, then you are not worrying about intentions, you are applying a unilateral veto, in effect, to legislation passed by the elected representatives and signed by the executive branch. Yes, the courts are the overseers of that process, but not the juries in a criminal trial. The courts where laws themselves are judged are the place to get them overturned.

    Intent should be part of the consideration. If you consider intent, then you have to be ready to apply the law if the intent was to commit the crime, and only say "not guilty" if the intent wasn't there -- or the actually didn't do it. Sometimes intent isn't important, or changes the charges but doesn't negate a crime.

    If you say "I won't find anyone guilty of that law because I don't like it", then you are not doing your job as a jurur.

  • Re:Naturally (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:13PM (#39480539)

    You forget that the Judge Dredd rule applies, and they are the law.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:13PM (#39480541) Journal

    If anybody honestly expected the U.S. government to bring in experts on any issue even slightly tied to the giant boondoggle that is the TSA, you must have been hiding under a rock for the past ten years.

    In fact, I'll go one step further and say that the day Congress actually lets competent, intelligent technology experts into any discussion, we'll have solved global warming semipermanently by balancing the heat from the sun with the icy breeze coming up from hell.

  • Re:TSA and DHS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:23PM (#39480591)
    This is the first meaningful use of capslock I have ever seen on the internet. Good show.
  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:23PM (#39480595)

    to be on record, YES, that counts.

  • Re:TSA and DHS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:33PM (#39480625)

    that won't fix things.

    the system is broken.

    if your computer is blowing a fuse, will replacing the fuse a 2nd and 3rd and 4th time in a row really do anything?

    doing a chinese fire drill on the elected officials is not fixing the problem.

    removing the money factor from office WILL fix the problem.

    FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    elections are not going to change a damned thing. they are like swapping fuses when the circuit is basically shorted out, downstream.

  • by runeghost (2509522) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:42PM (#39480665)
    From Gustave Gilbert's transcripts of his conversations with Herman Goering at Nuremberg:

    "Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

    "There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:45PM (#39480687)
    Are you suggesting that matters of religious freedoms should only allow input from religious people at the exclusion of all others? You don't have to agree with her but something is wrong when you argue for a 'nah nah I'm not listening' debate.
  • by Teppy (105859) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:49PM (#39480721) Homepage
    The meaning of the word "unreasonable" has become vague, at least in common use. From the oldest dictionary I could find (Oxford English Dictionary, first edition http://archive.org/stream/oedxaarch#page/n889/mode/2up [archive.org]), it is:
    1: Not endowed with reason; irrational 2: Not acting in accordance with reason or good sense

    IOW, Unreasonable means "without a reason." The government can not conduct a search without having a reason to do the search. This makes perfect sense: If an TV was stolen nearby and soon after an eyewitness says they saw you carrying a TV into your house, then the police have a reason to search your house: To see if the stolen TV is inside. On the other hand, if the TSA picks a person at random, then they don't have any reason to search him for bombs.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:57PM (#39480753)

    Bull.

    The constitution grants rights to the goverment. The american system is built on a foundation of "deny all with specific exceptions" for the government and "permit all with specific exceptions" for the people.

  • Game over (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:18PM (#39480863)
    Its official. The monkeys are running the zoo.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:31PM (#39480941)

    I agree with you.. but it isn't like we (American citizens) haven't been complicit. We have one party that is willing to say publicly that water boarding isn't torture. And on the other side, one that says Guantanamo Bay is wrong and should be closed, yet is unwilling to actually close it. And we have American citizens that either don't care, won't say anything, or at the very least won't vote these people out of office. There are no protests - not over Guantanamo, not over the TSA, not over much of anything.

    When something goes wrong (say 9/11), people scream for more security... and they willingly give up their rights. And to get them back? Congress might hold slow, reasoned debates, without so much as a peep from the public.

    They are holding hearings on the TSA now... I watched MTP, ThisWeek, and Fox News Sunday yesterday, and there wasn't so much as a mention of it.

    And if you think it's just the media... then where are the protests of people concerned about their rights? Where were they the last 10 years?

  • by TheReaperD (937405) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:37PM (#39480973)

    Given the rarity of any terrorist attack before the TSA existed I would say that it is far more reasonable for the TSA to have the burden of proof why they should be allowed to continue to exist.

  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:44PM (#39480999) Homepage Journal

    So the question here is does Article 1 section 8 of the constitution trump the protections of the bill of rights?

    by your reading, which I find way too broad, then the government could regulate the ownership of guns, bullets, wheat, bread, etc based on the concept that it may cross state lines and thus be "interstate commerce"

    The relevant quote of Article 1 Section 8 is
    "The Congress shall have Power"

    "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

    To me that says that congress can regulate state to state commerce, not private commerce between two people or businesses in different states.

    Besides, how is my buying a plane ticket at the local airport, paying at the local airport, paying state and federal taxes on the tickets at the local airport and getting on a plain for another state "commerce among the several States"?

  • by Salgak1 (20136) <salgak.speakeasy@net> on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:01PM (#39481067) Homepage
    Actually, that's not technically correct. The hearing was on the constitutionality of regulations that may impact the First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion. Fluke was substituted the day before the hearing, and was excluded from it due to her lack of actual established expertise on First Amendment issues, and insufficient time to verify exactly what expertise a law school student would bring, the remaining witnesses all being established Constitutional Scholars. Instead, she testified to a Democratic Caucus meeting made to look like a real Congressional Testimony. Or, as they say in DC....."pure optics". It seems to have accomplished the intended purpose. . . .diverting the debate. Just as keeping Schneier out of the TSA heearing did....
  • Re:Naturally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by random_ID (1822712) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:17PM (#39481139)

    No it's because Schneier has a conflict-of-interest since he's a hostile party in an ongoing lawsuit against the TSA. It makes sense that he would be excluded.

    Why? Testifying before congress isn't like serving as a judge where conflict of interest is not permitted. Why shouldn't someone with a grievance be permitted to testify before Congress?

  • Re:Not a Hearing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:47AM (#39481721)

    Cherry picking speakers to support the status quo is just theater, nicely complementing the security theater of the TSA.

    Bruce is currently involved in a lawsuit against the TSA, so he is no longer a neutral witness offering impartial, expert testimony. He has a vested interest in the outcome of the hearings, so his testimony would have to be considered suspect.

    Note that if Congress takes any kind of bill to the floor for debate, any Congress critter can still call on him to stand up and give testimony, he just can't act as a neutral expert witness for purposes of this type of oversight hearing.

    Note to mods: Stop modding shit +5 Insightful just because you agree with some dipshit knee-jerk response. Insightful is supposed to mean that the post offers some kind of insight or reveals something relevant. The post you have currently modded up is pure flamebait, all it does is trash talk on the TSA and fails to offer any information, supporting evidence, or argument. The fact that I happen to mostly agree with the poster is irrelevant- it is not "Insightful" by any definition.

  • by pxc (938367) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @02:41AM (#39481903)

    Yeah. It's always seemed to me that because Slashdot generally consists of an intelligent, well-educated readership (bullshit posts and nonsense traditions aside), they have inherited some liberal social views, but the engineering contingent here is too strong to allow anything but a very pragmatic sort of outlook, because of which Slashdot tends to leans toward more conservative attitudes about the nature of ideas and justification. The libertarian streak within /.ers I think is mostly rooted in a kind of skepticism toward policy.

    But yeah. Slashdot definitely has an archetypal political outlook, but it's not one quite so simple as ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’.

  • Re:Naturally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fjandr (66656) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:39AM (#39482071) Homepage Journal

    I can hear the grinding of the gears of logic from here ... hopefully you'll find the clutch before you destroy the transmission ...

    The TSA should be at the table. The point was that the conflict should not disqualify Schneier for participating either. If the simple fact that they are engaged in a legal battle is enough to disqualify one side, it should be enough to disqualify the other.

  • Re:Naturally (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ash Vince (602485) * on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:39AM (#39482979) Journal

    Have her breasts seized? Sure, I can understand that; probably more than 3oz of liquid in those things. If she wants to get them through security, she needs to wrap them in plastic and write "Saline Solution" on them. See Bruce Schneier: The Things He Carried [schneier.com]

    The link you posted has a very relevant and insightful paragraph where it details exactly what has made flying safer:

    "Counterterrorism in the airport is a show designed to make people feel better," he said. "Only two things have made flying safer: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers."

    This is mostly spot on, but part of making people go through a heightened security screen is to remind them of the threat.

    Here in the UK we had had terrorism since before I was born, we simply have less need be reminded. I expect most Israelis feel them same way since they have had a similar problem. We are used to looking out for people behaving suspiciously, we are used to keeping an eye out for unattended bags in airports or other places people congregate. There is a reason that most UK mainline train stations have no litter bins, we removed them all when the IRA decided to leave bombs in them in the 80's and 90's.

    The IRA very rarely targeted air travel as they were less likely in mass killing of civilians in the later years and more interested in property damage but they still used explosives and people still died so we got used to having to keep an eye out. Now we have to keep an eye out in different places and for different things but we are still more used to being alert in the same way.

    You guys in the US have never had to worry about domestic terrorism in the same way before so it is only natural you are still trying to figure out how to deal with it. It is very scary that one of your fellow citizens wants to turn on you but you have no idea exactly who. Many people though deal with this fear by blocking it out and not thinking about it, forcing people to jump through some hoops also forces them to think about it at times when it is very important.

  • by Asic Eng (193332) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:20AM (#39483185)

    The issue before congress was whether the mandate was a potential violation of the rights of religious institutions.

    The mandate in this case being about women's health issues. How does this translate into excluding women completely from the discussion? No matter where you stand on this: obviously women should have been given the chance to argue why their rights do not infringe on religious freedom of other people.

  • Re:Naturally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Svartalf (2997) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:34AM (#39483753) Homepage

    "Counterterrorism in the airport is a show designed to make people feel better,"

    I don't feel better, nor do most other people in fact. It's part of the reason the airline industry's hurting. In the large, most people don't travel any more by air unless they have to because of this tripe.

  • Religious rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus (799657) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @10:05AM (#39484067) Homepage Journal

    Oh, make no mistake about it, it is a violation of the rights of religious institutions. I don't think that was ever in much question. The question is just how far do those rights extend? My religious rights, for example, do not give me the right to dictate your health care options. Why should it be any different for an employer dictating that an employee cannot have have contraceptive coverage for no incremental expense past what the coverage already costs?

    That is why Sandra Fluke should have been allowed to testify in a panel regarding religious freedom. They had a panel made of people whose agenda is pushing that freedom as far as possible, even at the expense of the individual liberty of people like Sandra Fluke. Without her testimony, there was no one to say, "That's too far," and the panel--and the public--did not get a fair representation of the issue at hand.

    Also, if you actually watch the panel, you will quickly see that it wasn't just about religious freedom. Every person who testified did so extensively about the issue of contraception. To pretend like contraception just happened to be an issue that came up is extremely dishonest and disingenuous. I for one do not believe that simply draping some issue in the mantle of religious freedom and not allowing any opposing viewpoints because, hey, it's not relevant to religious freedom, is not an acceptable way to debate.

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