Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We Live In A Police State!

I've been following the news about the blogger who leaked TSA security documents and was subsequently visited by TSA Agents posing as Federalis.
There's the follow-up tweet that was probably one of the Feds, and Frischling's inability/fear/complicity to own up to what happened there . . . it's gross.

My gut reaction is "OMG! Police State!" My fear and anger increases, and I almost click a link to Prison Planet. That'll get you lost in the weeds, but it's all faith based. Alex will run you around in circles with really fancy circular logic and "well that's what They're stopping us from knowing!" and he's basically a believer in Intelligent Design but God's an enormous prick.

Back to the headline - are we living in a police state? I don't think so.
What I think/hope this case is is just an ineffectual organization clumsily wielding power to protect/hide its own ineptitude. Which is exactly what we need protecting from, frankly, and I hope TSA people are fired for this.

The bottom line of this case is the same tired argument - security through obscurity. The TSA's methods NEED to be secret, because otherwise the terrorists will find ways to thwart them!
This is a flawed argument. The only time this is true is if the security system is flawed in the first place, and exposing the system exposes that flaw. The correct response isn't to cover the fact that there's a flaw in the system, you need to fix the system!

NPR recently aired a piece about "locksport" - lock picking contests that kids have. In it they interview a sheriff who is naturally appalled at such a social activity. May as well be mugging old ladies to him; lionizing an ability that can be used for evil is itself evil in his value system.

He may be right. Maybe locksport is a gateway drug to safe-cracking, which leads to home invasions, which leads to bank robbery, which leads to the Nakatomi Plaza heist.
Maybe that's how Hans got his start.

But I doubt it. It's just a hobby, like painting miniatures or sniffing glue.

I think the TSA and the locksport haters don't get is the same thing: if knowledge is all it takes to beat your system, then your system is flawed in the first place.
And it leads to bullies wielding power inappropriately, which is where laws come in to protect the private citizen.

This has begun to break down since the War on Drugs, and accelerated with the War on Terror.
Fortunately, Obama is backing off on calling it the War on Terror, and has stated that fighting a war on an ideology is unsound. (this is true)
This is why I doubt the police state is in our future. While examples abound of police corruption and over-reaches of power at every level from attorneys-general to beat officers, this is because people are flawed, not because our system has been overtaken.

I think there's still hope.

And hey, at least we're not North Korea. They were eating fucking bark.

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