As I read more and more of those stories I can't help but wonder at how things changed. I am from a formerly-eastern-europe-soviet-bloc country (Poland) and these kinds of oppressive techniques sound very familiar. The haziness of procedures, lack of basic rights, intimidation, no accountability of state officials -- we've seen all that until 1989. At the time, while the communist regime was imposed on us, the USA seemed like heaven: transparency, procedures, basic rights, free speech, accountable officials.
Look at where we are today. I can't even imagine being held captive without arrest for hours, being questioned about the purpose of my trip, about my religion and habits, all while travelling within my country. When entering the country, the passport clerk has exactly two options: let me in, or call the police and get me arrested on the spot. I feel free and I am happy to live in a free country, together with people who because of the past oppressive Soviet regime are quite sensitive to abuses of power.
At the same time, the U.S. is rapidly degenerating into something that isn't quite the sinister oppressive regime, but getting close to the point where it could become one, if a wrong leader gets elected. It's scary.
And the worst thing is -- American people got so used to the idea of living in a free country, that they do not even admit the thought that things are going the wrong way. Most people don't see the signs.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the government can't hamfistedly accuse you of a crime. All it says is that they have to charge you or let you go in 24 hours, give you a trial, and punish you in a consistent way. They did that here; they asked some questions and they let him go.
You can argue about the techniques; religious questions, not giving him water, but it's all a well-documented psychological game that they're trying to play. If they make the suspect mad, the suspect is more likely to start yelling hysterically without thinking, saving the taxpayer the cost of a long trial. It's worth a try, right? (I think the correct answer to any question is, "my lawyer will answer that. get me my lawyer.")
Anyway, I look at this like the lottery, but in reverse. Sometimes you lose the reverse lottery and a day of your life gets fucked up. But ultimately, life moves on and you have an interesting story. You can say that the government is an oppressive regime that is out to get you for your political views, or you can say you rolled the dice and lost.
Let me ask you this: say you want to check for guns and explosives before people get on an airplane. How do you do it?
The view you have expressed here demonstrates that you have literally no idea what you are talking about.
It is not a "lottery" when the TSA and their goons are profiling people based on race, religion, income, and a host of other criteria.
I don't know about you, but I want the TSA / FBI / NYPD to look into it so that they're sufficiently convinced the individual is not a threat.
There are so many chemicals to test for, and so many of them have other common uses that using chemical tests as a proxy for malicious intent has poor accuracy. Even assuming tests are extremely accurate, false positive rates would still massively exceed the incidence of threats.
What you look like will greatly increase your odds of being "randomly" searched and thereby odds of false positive chemical detection, at which point what you believe may become a liability during your interrogation.
Having an objective mechanism in the mix doesn't really put a dent how culturally and racially biased the present solution is.
Whether you feel a need for there to be such a system in place only changes whether such a bias is a matter of xenophobic overreach or a technical weakness against threats that resemble the majority.
Yes. Get into their mentality. The lower ranks are underpaid would be burger flippers and In-and-Out. The go through their boring day pushing prodding people. If they get to "interrogate" someone or humiliate him or show off their power just like a bully would in the cafeteria you betcha they'll take advantage of that.
Yeah, Schneier calls it Cover Your Ass Security. It's not super effective ..
Because people who handle explosives and cover it up when questioned, and aren't involved in handling explosives in their day job, are completely to be trusted?
Surely once they've determined he isn't carrying explosives they need to be sure as possible, if he claims not to have been around any explosives, that he's telling the truth; in order to reduce the risk that he's going to use explosives in an illegal way and/or manner dangerous to life. Don't people who're manufacturing explosives in secret deserve at least a passing glance to see what they're doing with them.
It looks here like they checked his apartment to corroborate his statements.
Now if they've established there are no traces of explosive present - for example they confirm the cause of a false-positive - that's different.
The problem with your line of thought is that you trust that machine to be somewhat reliable. We don't _really_ learn what set off the machine, but the author's guess is an over the counter spray..
If that's the high tech "You need to endure this process for the greater good, since the machine claims you're a threat" world you like to live in, I .. opt out. That thing is obviously next to useless and probably as effective as a look in the eyes of the stranger, with your gut deciding if he's going to stay put for the rest of the day or if he's allowed to move on.
IFF we had a reliable, working test with little to no false positive due to f*ing everyday stuff (or .. bad luck, being a 'random' match), THEN you might have a point. Right now, you don't.
And your problem is you assume the machine isn't reliable. So then if it's set off, you just say "ah well, it's probably a false reading". At that point you just obviated the purpose of the machine.
Yes we don't learn whether it was the permethrin (? can't certainly recall the name) but the people who did the sweep of his apartment confirmed that there were no other indications of explosives manufacture [or you can plump for the slightly less cynical - 'the questioning confirmed he was not a threat'].
There's likely always going to be some false-positives: the needs of the many, yadda, yadda.
>IFF we had a reliable, working test with little to no false positive due to fing everyday stuff* //
Can you post your source and the pertinent stats for the number of false-positives for explosives detection at airports in the USA please.
If you subject a random American to this HIV test and the test result is positive, what is the probability that that person has HIV? I wont do the math, but the right answer is about 2%. Since the prevalence of HIV is so low it doesn't matter how accurate the test it, it will still generate many times more false positives than true ones.
Same thing with bombs. The number of American air passengers/year is about 800 million/year and of them, at most 5 are carrying explosives. Even if the bomb detector is 99.9% accurate it will generate thousands of false positives for each real bomb it catches.
But this doesn't mean that scanning for explosives is a bad idea, or that people should just be merrily flagged to go on their way, otherwise what is the point of doing any screening?
After all, the vast, vast majority of passengers are just trying to go from point A to point B so each and every single scanning method will generate thousands of false positives every year.
YOU started supporting the process and said something like
Don't people who're manufacturing explosives in secret..
Well, based on what evidence? The machine that detects chemicals here? It seems that this supports my claim, you think that machine is 'working' and somewhat reliable. Without having provided any kind of proof or source, by the way.
The article, the author, proceeds to talk about potential chemicals to set off the detector (and we had more posts like this over the years, for example from people working with plants, farmers etc). Chemicals you're able to get everywhere.
If that is a known issue and this machine can beep if
a) you've built a bomb
b) you've moved your plants from inside the house to your garden
then you should reevaluate the idea of this particular test in the first place. The author writes that one participant in that theater claimed to know the exact substance that triggered the detector. Really? In that case it should be possible to
- dismiss the idea, it's stupid. That stuff? Everyone can buy it
- ask disguised/hidden questions to reveal if he used one of the gazillion things that might trigger this warning and leave the man alone
- keep him, make him feel like a criminal, treat him in an inhuman (no water..? Really?) way for as long as it takes to break into his appartment
is really not on the list of things you can rationally describe as necessary. That's insane.
Ah, well. I come up empty handed at the end and cannot provide a source for the reliability of the detectors used in the US of A. I guess that makes my whole post moot. Obviously you don't need to provide the same thing, since "It's used at the airports, certainly it works!"?
It's more complicated than that. Anecdotal evidence suggests the trace analysis machine has a very low false positive rate. The fact that agents are trained to re-run the test repeatedly also suggests the machine has a very low false negative rate.
Given a sufficiently low false positive and false negative rate, the right answer may be, if it repeatedly triggers on a passenger, to question that passenger further.
Of course, with increasing reliability of the test comes increasingly severe questioning when the test repeatedly fails. In theory you want the level of the response to be commensurate with the reliability of the test. A perfect test convicts you as soon as you fail it. An imperfect test such as this requires humans to actually follow-up and investigate the failure.
The tactics, ethics, and legality of the how that investigation proceeds... I think that's another matter entirely, from whether we should be employing trace analysis in airports in the first place.
Checked? That's being charitable. You mean it's okay to break into someone's apartment without a warrant and steal shit? What happened to the rule of law? Having said that, we don't know who broke in or what happened.
"This guy set off explosive detectors at the airport. He claimed it was because of chemicals he used while moving. We'd like to check his story out by searching his place." Looks to me like that could convince a judge.
"You’ll have to understand, when a person of your… background walks into here, traveling alone, and sets off our alarms, people start to get a bit nervous. I’m sure you’ve been following what’s been going on in the news recently. You’ve got people from five different branches of government all in here - we don’t do this just for fun."
Edit to add: in other words "The questions about race/religion weren't profiling, because they weren't used to select him for additional scrutiny" is false. They even admitted to subjecting him to additional security because of his "background".
Simple example: Cop tells Joe Blow that they have a witness to the crime, and Joe Blow may as well confess. Joe Blow makes a full confession. Turns out there was no witness. Perfectly legit; what Joe Blow should have said (if anything) was 'there couldn't be, because I didn't commit that crime.'
Yes, that means that agents of the state (LEOs, prosecutors etc.) have an incentive to misbehave, but in the common law system the adversarial nature of the legal process allows the defense to challenge that. In a civil law system the investigating officer is supposed to be compelled to search for truth above all else, but if the investigating officer is corrupt or inefficient it is much harder to challenge in court, and defense attorneys are much less aggressive on behalf of their clients.
In terms of courts, I'm not sure what context we're talking about, since there are no courts involved. IANAL, but if the OP were to sue, rules about testimonial hearsay don't apply because it would be a civil case, not a criminal one. Even if it were criminal (if the OP had been arrested and was mounting a defense or the FBI agent was, I guess, arrested?), it's not obvious to me that the agent's statement qualifies, since its purpose has to be to assist the investigation. And finally, the rule that police are allowed to lie to get you to confess (as in your example) is actually separate from whether it's testimonial or not, and simply hinges on whether it's coercive. If I understand it, the testimonial hearsay rule as applied to cops lying is for when the cop says, "Oh, it's no problem; I make bombs at home too" in that it doesn't allow the defense to say, "see that cop makes bombs!" So that's all to say I don't understand what all that has to do with whether the OP was being profiled or not. Possibly I misunderstood something or have my legal facts wrong, though; can you clarify?
Edit to add: but regardless, it shouldn't change how much we're outraged at home, assuming we believe the OP's story, which I certainly do.
Who cares if it's legal testimony? It's still racial profiling, which is still uncool for any reason.
No, it's not. He was picked because he set off explosive detectors. Repeatedly.
The racial opinions of the person asking the questions doesn't change the fact that this is not racial profiling.
nervous = background && companions && alarm
The FBI agent did not say "You are being subjected to additional screening because of your background and because you're traveling alone". That they are nervous because of his background and lack of companions is orthogonal to the fact that the additional screening happened because of the positive match for explosives.
Or are you suggesting that if a white person traveling with companions matched positive for explosives, that they wouldn't be subjected to additional screening?
1. he sets off the chemical detector
2. he is pulled aside for questioning
3. in that questioning, they discover he has a background that makes them nervous
4. they hold him for a great deal more questioning
The alarms have already gotten us to 2, and they're not even nervous yet, because they don't know his background and, like you said, without the background being true, the whole expression evaluates to false. That's why the 3->4 transition is a problem, and that's where the profiling comes in. The agent's explanation isn't some non-sequitur, like "yeah, this is totally standard and incidentally we're nervous". He's explaining why they're holding him longer and have brought in agents from five different departments instead of just having a TSA guy chat with him and send him on his way. Notice the escalation as they become more concerned; they care about his background because it makes them think he might be a terrorist. Holding people for questioning when they're nervous that the passenger is a terrorist is actually their job. That's why they did so much, even to the point that they felt the need to explain it.
If answers about his background would not change their behavior towards him, why would they ask about it all? The whole point of gathering information is so that you can make decisions with it.
So then we get to the crux of it: his background makes them nervous and their nervousness causes them to subject him to additional scrutiny, above and beyond the screening he would have endured had he set off the alarm and not had a nervousness-causing background. That's profiling.
E.g. if a given test were to generate a false positive, you would expect that it wouldn't generate a false positive the next time if run on the same article, especially if the machine correctly doesn't alert on other innocuous articles.
So in the normal situation someone sets of the chemical detector, once, gets pulled aside for questioning. Their gear doesn't set off the detector again and so the agents are able to conclude it's a false alarm.
To be clear, I don't agree with the treatment OP received in this case, but I fail to see how it is sinister that someone repeatedly sets off chemical detector alarms (that no one else sets off repeatedly), has burned all ties to his residence, is religious and is going up to meet family for a religious gathering.
It's not that such behavior is automatically suspicious, it's that the behavior is still almost indistinguishable from those who previously have caused terrorist attacks.
In this case the FBI agent isn't trying to prove OP a terrorist as much as he's trying hard (and failing) to prove that he's not.
I don't think that's true. Remember that the test doesn't actually detect bombs. It detects certain chemicals. Now, sometimes it might just randomly report a false positive and then you'd expect it not to trigger the second time. But some of the chemicals it is built to detect can be found in everyday products, such as hair products, soaps, some medications, and--as I learned today--bug spray. And so for those chemicals, it's going trigger repeatedly because the chemical it's looking for really is there. So that second failure mode is actually pretty common, and so even when that happens, it's normal to take the person into a side room, search them more throughly, talk to them for a few minutes, and send them on their way. What we see here is quite different.
Which leads us to the real reason, which you wrote:
> It's not that such behavior is automatically suspicious, it's that the behavior is still almost indistinguishable from those who previously have caused terrorist attacks.
That's precisely profiling: "the bad guys have profile x and you fit profile x, so we think you are suspicious" where x isn't inherently suspicious. It sounds like you're saying, "profiling isn't such a bad idea", which I strongly disagree with, but I suppose that's a different discussion.
From what I am hearing from others, normally people barely even get that much special treatment after a non-transient false positive. Agents suggesting "Maybe it was 'Innocuous Product X'" so the passenger can say "Yup, that is probably it" seems to be common, but not the sort of treatment they are going to give to people that they have a bias against.
Well yes, I would. Some false positives can be transient, others are not. If I just came from the shooting range I would not be surprised if I got a non-transient false-positive. Now that is an obvious case and I would immediately tell them that I had been to the shooting range, likely resolving the issue, but it is just a simple example of a false positive that is not transient.
How common is a non-transient false-positive where the victim doesn't immediately have a good idea what the cause is? Well, there are several reports from HN users in this thread that describe situations in which it could allegedly occur. One cites hand lotion as a potential cause of non-transient false-positives; luckily for his wife the agents volunteered that hypothesis so she wasn't left guessing. The author of the article supposes that an over-the-counter chemical was the cause of his non-transient false positive; it's not like he was a lab tech working with synthesized stuff that nobody else ever comes into contact with.
Unless the machines are shit (a distinct possibility), I would expect transient false-positives to be relatively infrequent while non-transient false-positives would be reliably and regularly caused by a wide range of substances that share chemical properties with known explosives.
Most of these non-transient false positives are likely quickly resolved without much ado. His was not.
Perhaps the real problem here is with the terminology. These machines are not really bomb detectors, or even explosive detectors. They are chemical detectors. Calling them bomb or explosive detectors is like calling a metal detector a "gun detector". Sure, finding those things may be why it is there, but that is not actually what it does.
Which makes the detectors useless as an interrogation tool.
If the alarm sounds, then check the person for explosives. That makes perfect sense, it's a useful tool for finding explosives on people.
But if you cannot find explosives on the person, what do you do then?
Any even slightly training terrorist is going to know what other products would produce the same detection result as the bomb they just built. So they'll pretend to think for a while, and then say "I work in a supermarket, and a customer dropped hand lotion on the floor this morning, and I had to wipe it up... can that set off your machine?"
It seems like there's a magic answer you can give that will let you go free, you just need to know the right thing to say. If the investigator likes you (i.e. thinks you're probably not a terrorist) they'll give you hints about what you should say. If they don't then you're on your own.
Someone who can give the right answer is either:
* Good at analysis, so they can make a good guess of what
might be setting of the machine.
* Someone who's been through this before
* Someone who got a friendly hint from the investigator
* A not-so-dumb terrorist
Someone who can't give the answer is either:
* A normal person
* A dumb terrorist
Given the low prevalence of terrorists, that would be the least likely explanation in either scenario, so the whole line of questioning is pretty much useless, except as a way of applying pressure to someone who you've decided is worth applying pressure to. When that decision is based on some genuine piece of evidence, then it might be a legitimate law enforcement technique. When it's based on the gut-feel of the officers in question, it becomes a front for racial profiling.
The last time I was travelling, I set of the metal detector in an airport in Germany. They took me aside and used the hand metal detector. It also went off. So they patted me down and scanned me again - the alarm still went off. So they patted me down a second time and scanned me again and the alarm still went off.
They then sent me on my way and I had no further hassle for the rest of the trip.
They even admitted to subjecting him to additional security because
of his "background".
1. He sets off the chemical detector
2. He is pulled aside for "additional security"
1. He sets off the chemical detector
2. He is pulled aside for "additional security"
3. They probe into his background to build a profile
4. This profile yields further rounds of "additional security"
that people not matching that profile wouldn't be subject to
> "... because he repeatedly set off the bomb detector."
No, the initial pat-down set off a chemical detector. He set it off once before being pulled into the private room. From that point on, it doesn't matter how many more times it was set off. It shouldn't increase the level of suspicion each time.
Would they have let him go if one time it suddenly stopped giving a positive signal? I doubt it.
> "These sorts of batteries were pioneered by the Israelis and are very effective."
But this is not how the Israelis run their security procedures, so the comparison isn't fair.
But this 'It works so well at Ben Gurion' statements get old, really quick. It doesn't.
Traveling to TLV is fine and no problem. Getting out just sucks. I feel treated like shit every single time, it's just borderline acceptable half the time (the other half it's really, really annoying, causing delays and trouble, stupid, braindead, unnecessary, idiotic, etc. etc.).
This coming from a German that lived for one year in TLV and works for a company that sits in IL, so I've been there before my relocation and afterwards. Currently I'm at 14 or 15 visits only, so .. my data points are obviously too few and I just managed to pick the wrong time? Right?
Short version: No, the Israeli version doesn't make you feel like a human being either, most of the time.
Also, I'm not in the slightest bit offended. I'm not Israeli and although my name is Persian in origin (I think?), I'm British. When I travel to the US, I usually get sent to 'secondary', so I've hsd a little experience with this type of questioning. It's just tedious.
In this story, they were profiling based on the fact that the person set off explosive detectors. Repeatedly.
The fact that he was later questioned by tactless people making veiled racial hints doesn't change the fact that he wasn't racially profiled. A Caucasian would have been detained just the same.
If I walk back and forth through a metal detector with a belt buckle multiple times, do I become increasingly suspicious each time it beeps?
False positives are possible, I've had it happen to me. When "the machine beeped", I got a thorough pat-down and re-swabbed, and the next time "the machine did not beep" and I was on my way.
It's my understanding that TSA agents will not allow someone to pass who is consistently setting off the explosives alarm. What would be the purpose of checking for trace explosives residue if the agents simply disregard it when it triggers?
Of all the 'sigint' they collect on each passenger, I would bet a "repeated trace analysis fail" ranks up there with carrying box cutters as one of the more alarming indicators an agent has to deal with.
It sounds like the agents did everything they could to try to get a green light from trace analysis. Failing that, the passenger is obviously red flagged and it's "all systems go" to determine if they are really a threat. I can't imagine how else they would handle it.
Just because it isn't transient doesn't mean it isn't a false positive as this story demonstrates.
With such an overwhelmingly massive chance that the alert was a false positive, the response the author received is indefensible.
It is the case that there exist certain profiles that would make a person more predisposed to terrorism (but I'm not claiming that I know what they are, nor do I feel that deciding what those profiles are is a decision to be taken lightly in the least). An equivalent statement would be to say that there are profiles -- such as being very old -- that would make a person less predisposed to acts of terrorism of this sort. So does it not follow that we should attempt to optimize given these conditions?
Note that I wholly agree with the objections to constitutional rights being violated in the account presented in the article, and I can understand the stance against any kind of profile. But it cannot be claimed that racial profiling has no good arguments going for it.
I personally am not entirely decided on what the appropriate course of action is in this matter; profiling is a more complicated issue than we may like it to be.
This is a vast mischaracterization of what happened.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the government can't hamfistedly accuse you of a crime. All it says is that they have to charge you or let you go in 24 hours, give you a trial, and punish you in a consistent way. They did that here; they asked some questions and they let him go.
He was detained without arrest, based on minimal suspicions. Yes, he should have shut the hell up and not answered questions.
You can say that the government is an oppressive regime that is out to get you for your political views, or you can say you rolled the dice and lost.
Except these dice are heavily weighted against you if you are brown and/or non-christian.
say you want to check for guns and explosives before people get on an airplane. How do you do it?
That's not happening here. He was not detained because he had an explosive or firearm, he was detained because he was subject to a different level of scrutiny than the other passengers who went through the scanner.
Minimal suspicions? A young male flying alone who refuses the scanner and sets of the explosives detector?
Yes, he absolutely should have been cooperative and answered their questions after that. I always refuse the scanner, but I don't complain afterward that I have to answer questions and get a "firm" pat down (there is nothing "firm" about them, btw, they are overly careful and respectful if anything).
And if I ever set off the explosive detector, my first reaction wouldn't be how unfair it was that "harried" employees were "rudely" explaining that my options were leaving or a private pat down. That would seem utterly reasonable to me.
He was told that leaving was not one of his choices. Even after pointing out the illegality of that to the security official, he was told that if he left, he would forfeit his luggage, including any electronics. So essentially, leaving was not one of his choices. Also, having his house broken into and possibly bugged does not seem utterly reasonable to me.
Now c'mon. By treating this like fact given the evidence from the story, you are engaging in the same unjust leaps and "profiling" that people are accusing the TSA of. No one, including the author, knows what happened to his picture or if any law enforcment agency was involved in its disappearance.
Would you mind to share your reasoning as to why you elect to forgo this option ? It would appear to me having a machine scan you is less intrusive than a full body search by a human agent.
1) It requires agents turn away from their normal tasks and clogs up the works to some degree. I disagree with the program and opting for the pat-down is a legal action I can take that will, ever so briefly, disrupt it.
2) I do it in the hope that the agents doing the pat-down will be uncomfortable while doing so. Any legal action I can take that makes their job ever-so-slightly more unpleasant is something that I will do. If it were done en-masse and people in their personal lives ostracized them for their job, then maybe (just maaaybe) the TSA would experience higher turnover.
3) To add one more data-point to the agents' awareness that a portion of the population does not approve of them or their job.
4) So that other people waiting in the line can see me skip the full body scan and learn that they can as well.
5) So that I get to tell other people what I just told you.
Yeah, well, it didn't happen to you, did it?
He went through security and set off an explosives detector. The cops showed up and asked some questions. Then he left.
"We gave him free room and board for 17 years, then laid him on a comfortable bed and gave him some medicine to make him fall asleep for a while".
"We kept him caged in a tiny, windowless cell and gave him just enough stale bread and dirty water to keep him alive for 17 years, then we executed him."
Details matter, dude.
The other details, far from suggesting oppressive state apparatus, suggested an assortment of rent-a-cops and airline staff that really weren't particularly well-prepared for the guy that couldn't account for the explosives and flagged other profiling alarms without actually giving any indication of being an actual threat. If you want to oppress someone you do a lot more than keep them waiting whilst you try and figure out who's best positioned to ask less silly questions.
The most objectionable behaviour was arguably JetBlue's decision to refuse to honour the return ticket, and you'd struggle to argue that was part of the crushing state apparatus.
I'd argue that the pertinent detail is that he wasn't actually carrying any explosives.
The other details, far from suggesting oppressive state apparatus, suggested an assortment of rent-a-cops and airline staff that really weren't particularly well-prepared for the guy that couldn't account for the explosives and flagged other profiling alarms without actually giving any indication of being an actual threat.
A State doesn't have to be a finely-tuned, well-oiled, smoothly functioning machine to be oppressive. It just has to institutionalize (or just tolerate) the kind of treatment we saw here. If some of the individuals involved are simply bungling incompetents who more or less mean well, does that make the overall process less oppressive? I argue that it doesn't.
I pat them down, and search their luggage. If I don't find a bomb, I let them go. It should take 3-5 minutes, tops. What I don't do is detain them for hours, grille them over and over again, and deny them food and water during the detainment.
but at the same time they need to be persistent enough to deal with the attempts of guilty parties to conceal the truth.
It doesn't even matter what they say, they either are or aren't carrying a bomb. That can be determined through physical inspection. Persistence doesn't enter into it.
He had checked luggage.
Do they really? How often do planes blow up because of a bomb a passenger brought on? Once a decade? Less than that? I'm frankly willing to live with those odds if it means I don't have to take my shoes off and submit to molestation every time I get on a flight.
Minimal security theatre isn't oppression, and neither is bungling for five hours.
Let's put things into perspective here. The Syrian government gasses its people largely indiscriminately. The Egyptian government shoots those guilty of the crime of public protest. This guy was, based on reasonable suspicion... asked more questions than competent interrogators would have bothered with and left rather thirsty and ticketless at the end.
Yep, we'll have to agree to disagree. As far as I'm concerned, being detained against your will for five minutes is oppressive.
But, I'm a radical individualist who believes in the primacy and sovereignty of the individual and who barely tolerates the idea of the modern nation-state at all. So I'm fairly biased.
It's not even like there isn't a reason for increased security at US airports in the last 15 years.
Of course, that's only an interpretation, and it's possible the individuals involved gain visceral thrills from asking questions about being "somewhat religious" or "very religious" and laughing as their fellow henchmen misunderstand the concept of venture capital, and only the last vestiges of American law prevented them from responding to his request for a drink by waterboarding him. It's possible they asked ignorant questions about Hinduism and then called their crack Hindi-speaking agent as part of a cunning plan to deter non-Christians from ever flying again. It's just.... I'm sure the concept of Hanlon's razor has come up on HN a few times before?
If it's caused by malice, it's wrong and needs to be addressed. If it's caused by incompetence, it's wrong and needs to be addressed. If it happened to you, would you feel more comforted by the idea that hey, these are well-meaning but untrained and ignorant buffoons who couldn't use the common sense possessed by a housecat? Would it really matter?
Actually no, the pertinent detail is the fact that he wasn't carrying any explosives or planning anything nefarious.
> The most objectionable behaviour was arguably JetBlue's decision to refuse to honour the return ticket
You can't be serious. An innocent man was held against his will, questioned,with no water, for 18 hours, while in the mean some some secret police broke into his house, and the worst thing you can see about this is that he didn't get his money back??
Correct, and that's exactly what makes it not oppressive: the fact that it doesn't happen to random people pulled on the street. When this starts happening, then you are justified in claiming that your country is turning into a police state.
This is about the techniques. As another commenter pointed out, details matter. "Securing our airports" is all well and good until you start "securing" them via forced detentions absent any charges, denying basic physical needs, "patdowns" that would qualify as sexual assault if someone not wearing a uniform did it, and so on. The whole point is that if you don't consider the details and only focus on the goals, then you only consider the benefits and not the costs. Judging from the public statements by officers of the TSA and DHS, this is exactly how they seem to think about these practices.
> "Let me ask you this: say you want to check for guns and explosives before people get on an airplane. How do you do it?"
They already had checked for guns and explosives. Both his bags were scanned and his body was repeatedly "inspected" as well. The statements made by the officers indicated they were well aware that false alarms due to various common chemicals are routine. Yet they decided to assume he was a terrorist carrying explosives because he was a brown person who hadn't eaten traveling during Ramadan, not because of any concrete evidence on his person or possessions.
And besides, doesn't the government have armies of lawyers on their payroll already? The only significant cost to the taxpayer here would be if they lose.
Politely. With the view that I'm dealing with people who are innocent unless found to be otherwise.
Edit: Please also note that permethrin is not an explosive. Should everyone who uses insect repellant be treated this way while going through security? I'm surprised the guy even knew the name of the chemical (I wouldn't have).
And you can't detain someone without reasonable suspicion which gives you the authority to investigate whether a crime has occurred. This detention can't be indefinite, and can't even come close to lasting 24 hours. Once your investigation exceeds around 30 minutes, you have to either arrest the person (assuming probable cause) or release them.
This was about a year ago.
Regardless, contrarian anecdotal evidence does nothing to diminish the questionable approach to how airport security is, and in the author's case was, handled.
They also asked my religion. I said I'm Buddhist (sort of true, though I'm not a very good one) and after a brief chat, I was sent off with my beans. No pat down, no detention.
FYI, If you want to avoid this, handle as few volatile compounds as you can (E.G. Alcohol based products). Better yet, stop using that artificial malarkey altogether. You'll smell less offensive and it would probably be healthier for you anyway.
Of course, this is just a stop-gap measure to avoid getting inconvenienced. The real solution is to move from security theater to true security and that takes policy changes.
Basically you should aim to keep terrorism the least of the risks for the society but to accept it as a non zero.
But the moment less people are dying from terrorism than lets say random obscure health condition then the money and resources are better invested elsewhere.
In the 1970s there was no airport security. Airliners believed it would be cheaper to just pay off plane hijackers. That was before those hijackers started flying them into skyscrapers.
. . . although after many years of not flying, in the past 2 months I've gone through security about 10 times and it's always been pleasant and professional and quick.
It's usatoday, I know, but the reporting seems straightforward.
Missed loaded guns:
Seems like the screening is working, then.
> Missed loaded guns:
This statistic is meaningless without the number of times where they caught loaded guns.
And once we have these numbers, make a suggestion to improve that percentage.
EDIT: Here's an example of a red team "success:"
This is, of course, evil.
Hopefully. But their answer to that might contain the word "Guantanamo" and there's a chance, given that you're now an uncooperative brown person, that they're not bluffing.
I'm normally not one to buy arguments that the US is truly on a slippery slope to becoming a police state, but this year has made me seriously rethink that.
The TSA technique does everything but what works. Gross wholesale violations of multiple Constitutional rights doesn't work.
Edit: I stand corrected the British security is mostly Heathrow. I flew from Edimburgh this April and the security was mostly the same as the rest of europe.
Also I have improved the wording a bit.
Schiphol was still 30+ minutes (was in line behind a flight from...Iran), but not incredibly annoying like London was.
I am British — which helps somewhat — but I've known them to throw us on the back of the "All Passports" queue when it's been relatively busy, and never noticed it take any longer than otherwise. That all said, I more often than not pass through the passport control used for domestic transfers, rather than that for leaving the airport (though my experience is that that tends to have shorter queues than the one for transfers).
And no, I wouldn't expect being from the US to help, except for not requiring a visa.
I don't know if they've fixed the problem, but its permanently soured me on flying into England.
That's a pretty nuanced decision for the inspector to make. Polygraph machines and their operators routinely mess that one up.
I doubt that they themselves claim they can make that differentiation, and if they do so make that claim, I'd bet cash on it that it has been untested as far as accuracy regarding false positives.
Generally speaking, teaching 'technique' to a layman and expecting them to all be of equal caliber is just simply wrong.
The real difference is that it's only one airport. It would be very expensive and time-consuming to scale that up to secure every airport in the US.
Not much news about false positives for them makes it out, at least not in English-language media, but the worst I've heard of them doing is grilling suspicious people for a few hours.
The important bits are whether the difference is detectable in a manner that is convenient (putting each passenger through an MRI machine is out of the question), reliable (minimize false positives and false negatives), and so on. Just saying "there's a difference" adds no new information to the conversation unless you're able to expand on the quantifiable aspects of those differences.
I always here about it. Is it true? Couldn't terrorists just practice being interrogated knowing this.
Double agents when working for secret agencies regularly get training in how to pass polygraph testing (i.e. interrogation) so it is very doable..
So, go ahead, try it. Call me a troll but you should check your moral compass. Do not argue for the torture, psychological or physical, of others if you cannot hack or attempt to at least once. That is where I draw the line.
That's a weird line of reasoning. For example, according to you, I shouldn't have an opinion on death penalty unless I'm willing to see what it does?
Besides, the debate is not whether torture hurts the victim or not: everybody on either side of that fence knows that it does.
The question is: is torture ever justified?
Surely I can have an opinion on this without having to lie down and have gallons of water poured into my mouth through a cloth?
You certainly are entitled to having an opinion on anything. Personally, on topics such as water-boarding, I will lend much greater credence to someone that has experienced water-boarding.
> the debate is not whether torture hurts the victim or not: everybody on either side of that fence knows that it does. The question is: is torture ever justified?
To determine whether torture is justified you need to know both the costs, and the benefits. It's far too simplistic to say the "cost" of torture is that "it hurts the victim". Pain isn't a binary condition. How much pain is being inflicted? For how long? Is it permanent? Is the psychological trauma of the fear of death part of the calculation?
I won't go so far as 616c as saying "Don't argue for it", but I will say "Expect a less serious consideration of your arguments from me".
The prolem is not that he was interrogated. It's rather how he was interrogated and how the agents conducted themselves. They treated him like a spy and employed some psychological techniques. Was that even necessary? Doesn't e deserve to be treated with respect? Why did they immediately assume he was a criminal? Especially when they knew the machhines were defective?
Considering the fact that they knew the machines weren't perfect and that household items set them off, they should've considered him innocent until proven otherwise and treated him with respect. Even more so if he's a citizen. They should've atleast told him that "hey, the following items could set it off, have you used one of these?" They could've then verified his claims with the chemical that showed up.
All this will only become obvious once it happens to you I guess.
Like this: you check them for guns and explosives. Finding none, you let them on the plane. Total elapsed time: 5 minutes.
It's really not that hard.
There are AQAP designs that involve zero metallic parts, and they've been attempted twice.
In both instances the bombs actually made it on the plane and the attacks were only prevented by other means. That's one of the reasons TSA is trying to shift to machines that detect explosive chemical residue directly instead of just magnetometers, but that necessarily brings with it false positives.
I certainly think false positives can and should be handled better than what happened to OP, but you have provided no insight on how to check for guns and explosives here.
> say you want to check for guns and explosives before people get on an airplane.
> How do you do it?
9/11 did cause a lot of hysteria, but the risk profile has also changed since then. (Also, if you get TSA Pre, the security standards become essentially what they were pre-9/11.)
You're a name that comes up a lot here, and frankly I don't want to start a "That's insane" discussion with one of the top HN contributors. I've got no idea what's going on in you to defend that process, I'm certainly surprised to see your "It is necessary" comments in this thread, but .. I guess I leave the discussion again after this post.
I really, really don't want to offend you, but I guess this might be taken personal anyway: I'm confused, surprised and - to some degree - disgusted that this pro-terrorism scheme could be supported here, by a hacker.
Regarding your arguments: I'm no expert on explosives (hello NSA?) and wouldn't know about that. Actually I don't believe that claim (think citation needed), I haven't heard about major breakthroughs in explosive materials. You might be right.
I'm always checking in my bag. It's more comfortable for me and allows me to put stuff in that thing that I cannot take on board (yeah, but it can be on board below deck of course..).
Real time is crap. Before and after you needed to pass security. It was always 'one check, at one point, every passenger'. Now they just go nuts and try mentally insane procedures on top.
I doubt that 9/11 changed the risk profile. I think some people, a group of interested parties, changed the risk profile instead.
TSA Pre: Wouldn't know about that. I'm not from the US, never been there, will never travel there. The whole country has so much to offer (culture, country, vast and large) and it was my teenage geek dream to move there one day. Today? I laugh about that. The requirements to enter the country are just not worth it and there's plenty of stuff elsewhere that I need to see.
You're surprised by this guy because it's hard to voice certain opinions on certain topics (like the incessant and almost always redundant TSA / NSA / Manning / Snowden coverage) without having someone condescend to you, which gets tiresome quickly. So all the people who agree with him usually don't bother to comment, and often avoid these threads entirely.
In other words, we've just the illusion of conformity around here, and the surprising thing isn't that someone disagrees, it's that they were masochistic enough to start arguing in the first place.
Care to elaborate?
The majority of people suffer everyday from thereon because they might potentially be bad guys by bringing more than 100ml of toothpaste.
And if explosives have magically gotten smaller and more stable in the last 12 years (somehow defying chemistry and physics), why aren't we seeing more successful attacks? Or arrests of terrorists who underestimate how good the TSA is? Could it be that we're protecting ourselves against a miniscule threat? I bet if we invoked some type of placebo security where the guards just watched a rerun of South Park instead of the xray screen, we'd be just as "effective."
I think they already do, except they're only showing that one early episode where Cartman goes all RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAYH
Seems to me that this guy had to talk a lot, answer a lot of questions, without any of the protection the 5th amendment is supposed to provide.
I hope this helps. I really wish she or other lawyers like her would interpret this stuff for everyday people like you and me. The government and the ACLU both seem to benefit from our ignorance (and the fear we inherit due to it), so neither is incentivized to present the true picture.. and that's the real problem.
Just because you exercise the 5th doesn't mean the police or Feds have to suddenly make you comfortable.
He asked for water and probably could've gotten some if he had pushed the issue, it didn't seem as though he was being very vocal about being hungry and thirsty.
Because time and time again the aggressive treatment of passengers by the TSA has proven that we DO NOT have the same rights when dealing with the TSA.
Care to answer my question in a non-snark way? Regardless of the rules and laws in place, it's obvious (to a signifigant amount of other people) that American rights are being trampled on a near daily basis.
>>Why would it only be a portion?
I agree. Why is it?
Do you really think that's a hard question? You just literally look for guns and explosives, and if you don't find any, there aren't any.
In his case, there was some profiling going on.
They also broke into his apartment while doing that, and detained him for the better part of a day with no real probable cause other than "this machine said something".
The number of small level scary stuff I have seen discarded because the EU told us "seriously, you can't do that" is crazy (did you know that until recently, you could be detained by the police with no lawyer for several hours in France ? The EU forced us to fix that ). That is the one and only reason I have always been against turkish being in the EU, not religion or anything else like that like the medias like to claim.
One has to wonder what will happen when the former soviet countries start to forget what oppression means too.
So yes, security guys don't know Hindu from Muslim or Indian from whatever, but it's well-known there is a heightened alert right now, US embassies all over the middle-east and Africa are closed out of security fears, and this guy fit a crude profile AND did something slightly unusual (opted out of a security measure) AND triggered a gas chromatograph AND probably fired off several behavioral red flags. Sucks but it's just Bad Luck.
The only part of this story that makes it anything less than a total clusterfuck on the part of the TSA is that their so-called "explosive detector" alerted on something. Fine, it should take about 3 minutes after that to manually pat down / search the individual and find (or not) any explosives they are carrying. If you don't find any (and seemingly they didn't) that's what we call a "false positive". They happen, but that does not justify all the follow-on bullshit.
Seriously, FUCK the TSA. Those assholes are the terrorists as far as I'm concerned.
I'd say the same of Java programmers, but we know that's not true, and Java coders get much better salaries.
> And "behavioural red flag?" Are you shitting me?
In Britain for many years the main security measure at Heathrow was for security people to simply interview passengers on check in and ask them about their bags, where they were traveling, etc. -- the main purpose was to look for behavioral cues and not so much obtain answers to the questions. I believe this is one of the things TSA officers are supposed to receive training in.
So maybe he was low blood sugar and this triggered some kind of tic that also caused a false positive.
So you've got a bunch of things that all put you on the wrong side of checklist, voluntarily pick another one, and then add another couple from pure bad luck, and it sucks. I speak as someone who has been randomly detained for no stated reason at customs in Australia long before 9/11, and who since, having dark hair and complexion, is frequently on the wrong end of TSA profiling.
> Seriously, FUCK the TSA. Those assholes are the terrorists as far as I'm concerned.
You've led a sheltered life.
I took the earlier post as referring to the events that happened after he was detained. I'm not arguing against the idea of "behavioural indicators", I meant to say that someone becoming upset at being detained, grilled, denied water, etc., isn't such an indicator.
As for TSA officers in particular - these are people who would be asking "Would you like a hot apple pie with that?" if it weren't for the existence of the TSA. Not exactly America's "best and brightest". I have serious questions about their qualification to make any kind of valid assessment based on subtle psychological / behavioural clues.
Not so much.
Then you have a very low bar for terrorism.
This is the case in US airports as well. I recently flew back to Belgium from JFK in NYC. Before you go through screening you get asked those questions by someone, who then writes something on your boarding pass.
That one comment just undermined 100% of any credibility I had placed in the remainder of your comments in this thread.
I'm sorry you feel that way. We probably have some fundamental differences in our worldviews and fundamental principles. Nonetheless, I respect your opinion, even if it makes me sad.
the difference in worldview is whether words should mean things or just be a way to stay excited
lol. it's also well-known that the word "gullible" is written on most ceilings.
I also grew in an Eastern European country (Romania), and I remember thinking about those poor Soviet citizens who needed passports to travel inside the USSR. It all seemed very surreal, having to have special approval from your government in order to travel inside your own country.
The truth is that the world is changing.
People do stupid things.
You give people power and it's only a matter of time when something can go wrong.
That has already happened. You can probably go back to the last ten presidential elections and this statement would hold true in some form. I'd say the same about moat senators and representatives. It's a disaster we've been engineering with great consistency for 50 years.
I don't know what it will take for the US voter to wake up. Actually, no, I know, things have to get substantially worst. Most people don't pay attention to politics and how the country is being run often enough to be aware. They watch tv networks during elections to be told how to vote, and then they go back to sleep. Politicians love it. Whole blocks of people will always vote the same way. Nobody thinks. We are watching our destruction from the inside and there's precious little we can do about it.
I think it has little to do with any leader who gets "elected." The actual leadership is safe behind the scenes, busy "electing" people with well placed capital. The faces change, but not what's underneath. I think we passed the point you worry we are getting close to, and I think the wrong leaderS have been "elected" for long enough that we're... just totally screwed.
That last part is interesting, and I think it may play a bigger role here. It is difficult to hold people accountable for actions that are hidden, and not well understood. James Clapper lied to Congress in his testimony, and has had little more reprimand than us bitching about it on the internet.
People have stopped reading manuals. Bed bug spray is highly flammable. Basically it's one category below explosive...
The distressing thing is that we've been putting so much machinery into place, and gotten the noose so well fitted, that when the bottom drops out we'll only have the briefest of short, sharp shocks before we find ourselves in a terrifyingly efficient machine of oppression.
And she is right — the US is nowhere near being an authoritarian police state. But it is on a slippery slope, and those of us who have experienced a police state and can detect certain symptoms are deeply worried.
What's even more worrying is that this quiet (it is quiet, Hacker News represents at a first approximation 0% of the voting population) change takes place in a country which is the #1 military, financial and political world power.
When they have kill lists without any trial, jury or judge?
When they keep prisoners in jail indefinitely without a trial?
When they torture prisoners?
When state officials lie to the public?
When state officials lie to public representatives?
When the secret police interfere with lawyers communications and interferes with legal cases?
When the secret police silence individuals that want to inform about abuse?
When the secret police use surveillance for blackmailing?
When the state use strip searches and surveillance indiscriminately against the population, including children?
When the state implement state censorship?
When they use force against peaceful demonstrators?
When they utilize military resources against peaceful demonstrators?
When they seize bank assets without any trial, any intention of a trial, or even without ever formally serving the individual with criminal papers?
Please state what criteria we should use, so we can have a final definition of what an authoritarian police state is.
When it's too late to do anything about it.
I know you're not arguing that it is, you're more talking about public opinion. I think you're probably right. But I wish that weren't the reality.
As you point out, even if it's true for most of us, most of the time, it's the edge cases (abuses) that matter most.
I can't imagine what you mean by "perfect rule of law", but I do know it isn't the antithesis of authoritarianism. The opposite of strict obedience to authority is no obedience to authority -- meaning no hierarchy -- or anarchy.
My point is, we're judging how authoritarian a dictator is based on how benevolent they are. While a dictator is capable of ruling.. "equitably", the fact is you still have a dictator who could change his mind tomorrow. So it's not that we're mad about having a dictator, we're just mad this dictator is being a bigger ass hole than yesterday.
So the first continuum I proposed is actually one half of the continuum between anarchy and authoritarianism.
There was never a mass consensus in the USSR that it was authoritarian, because it was not permitted.
When I say not permitted, I do not mean that they had people with guns going "THINK THIS!", but that social pressure and group-think were utilised to ensure that nobody broke ranks - just like media control in the US and UK ensures.
It's very easy to rule people by pitting them against one another, and putting them in a state of fear, envy or suspicion of their fellow cit.
Perhaps things are authoritarian when a wide range of people expect abuse from the people in power, whether or not they recognize it as such.
Or, maybe it's more sinister than that, and we only truly recognize authoritarianism in retrospect.
Bingo, you get it. Put a frog in a pan of cold water, bring it to the boil. It'll stay there, perfectly content, until it cooks.
That said, I'm confident that there is no nation state on Earth that hasn't done these things. Please correct me if you can think of examples.
The difference now is that they are affecting mainstream, middle-class, "normal" Americans.
While it's good that people are angry about these abuses, it also seems incredibly naive. This is what states do. This is what they've always done. This is not particularly more authoritarian than they've been in the past.
There was no glorious past. There were no good old days.
Please, tell me one "first-world" country that has kill lists??
When it becomes illegal to oppose the current government?
When there is any political ideology it is illegal to espouse that does not involve directly inciting people to commit crimes?
When it becomes illegal to stage mass protests about anything?
When the media is directly owned by the state, as it is in many places?
When journalists and activists are jailed, as they are in many places?
When the media feels in any way uncomfortable roundly criticizing the government?
When the media feels too uncomfortable to openly publish government secrets which were previously leaked?
When most people think the government is authoritarian and needs to be reined in?
When enough people think the government is authoritarian that, under a democratic system, they would be a powerful voting bloc?
When at least enough people think the government is authoritarian for the idea to be given serious consideration in mainstream debates? (Debate about specific programs that need to be curtailed, without a general sense that the government is comparable to a police state, do not count.)
When we don't see things happening like
a rightwing antigovernment political movement becoming very popular and taking over a significant portion of the legislature;
a leftwing anticapitalist political movement staging provocative long-term demonstrations around the country with, at the end of the day, mostly pretty reasonable interactions with various municipal police departments, and managing at least to significantly influence the debate;
a judge placing harsh limits on a practice by a city's police department that was found to be unconstitutional?
Wikipedia cites the following elements of authoritarianism:
(1) "limited, not responsible, political pluralism"; that is, constraints on political institutions and groups (such as legislatures, political parties, and interest groups), (2) a basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat "easily recognizable societal problems" such as underdevelopment or insurgency; (3) neither "intensive nor extensive political mobilization" and constraints on the mass public (such as repressive tactics against opponents and a prohibition of antiregime activity) and (4) "formally ill-defined" executive power, often shifting or vague.
(1) Not applicable.
(2) Nationalism and emotional support for the government in general is alive and perhaps too well, but politicians almost never attempt to use such emotional arguments to support keeping themselves in power rather than electing the other party.
(3) Political mobilization is fine. No repression. Prosecuting leakers, whether you oppose it or not, does not count.
(4) There are issues regarding Congressional oversight of certain executive programs, but there are certainly limits on the President's power. In fact, on the kinds of issues (economic, social) that the current President spends most of his time talking about, he seems to get his way remarkably rarely.
It is possible to criticize moves that are abuses of power or resemble those of an authoritarian police state in some aspects without literally, and incorrectly, calling the US an authoritarian police state.
> When it becomes illegal to oppose the current government?
DDR on paper was a multi-party democracy. It was legal to oppose the current government. Even take part in parties other than the socialist party. Just if you did, Stasi might invent other ways of making you shut up, or you'd run afoul of other laws.
Of course the other parties all took part in a single electoral block with the SED (except for in the DDR's last ever election which was also the first where people could actually vote for more than one party), which somehow always totally dominated the parliament, and the other parties representatives also always voted the SED line, but it was of course all "voluntary".
Setting up the electoral system so that real opposition is near impossible is a gentler approach than actually outlawing opposition. Or make actual opposition start from an extreme financial handicap.
Mao, which we'll get back to, also provides plenty of demonstrations of how to do this without making it explicitly illegal: A central element of the Cultural Revolution was to build up a "social movement" that would fight supposed capitalists and counter-revolutionaries, but implicitly also anyone opposing Mao, and let a bunch of misled youth do the dirty work (not unlike Hitlerjugend). A lot of their work then later led to trumped up charges or various people recanting or "voluntarily" relinquishing their power.
If you want to make it look like you have popular support, it's much better to let "social movements" harass the opposition than to do it yourself, but not any less authoritarian.
> When there is any political ideology it is illegal to espouse that does not involve directly inciting people to commit crimes?
Most Soviet-era dictatorships would argue that they did just fine on this. You could espouse anything that wouldn't incite people to commit crime, they'd say. Of course espousing capitalism or actual democratic rights would be interpreted as inciting people to commit crimes.
> When it becomes illegal to stage mass protests about anything?
Even most Western democracies require permits for mass protests, and this is easy to exploit. A typical authoritarian government response to this is to make it legal, but only give permission when the protests are not seen as a threat, or to copy approaches also used by democratic states: Kettling, "Free speech zones", or simply refusing permits on security groups, or approving it for a time/date that kills its impact.
But a smart authoritarian government will welcome demonstrations that are not seen as a threat, or that are aligned with their interests. Mao's Cultural Revolution is a good example of mass demonstrations being used in support of an authoritarian government.
> When the media is directly owned by the state, as it is in many places?
What about when the media are owned by companies that know full well they exist only at the grace of government and "behave" and/or are owned by people beholden to the government? The effect is entirely the same.
> When journalists and activists are jailed, as they are in many places?
Inventing other crimes is easy. So is intimidating them instead of jailing them. Jailing them is the unsophisticated approach.
> When the media feels in any way uncomfortable roundly criticizing the government?
There's a sliding scale here that is incredibly hard to judge, because a lot of the time the media is "uncomfortable" criticising the government because they care about access, or because they don't think their audience or their advertisers will want to read/hear/watch it. Arguably the US is already in a situation where it takes extreme situations before the major media outlets wants to rock the boat.
> When the media feels too uncomfortable to openly publish government secrets which were previously leaked?
I'll grant you this is probably a good indicator - I can't think of any examples of obviously authoritarian governments that'd tolerate this other than for documents obviously "leaked" with permission.
> When most people think the government is authoritarian and needs to be reined in?
> When enough people think the government is authoritarian that, under a democratic system, they would be a powerful voting bloc?
This doesn't make sense to me as it's incredibly hard to judge, and a government can be authoritarian but still be roughly aligned with the interests of a majority in a way that makes it seem relatively open on the surface. By the time a government is authoritarian, you won't be able to get good data on this.
> When at least enough people think the government is authoritarian for the idea to be given serious consideration in mainstream debates? (Debate about specific programs that need to be curtailed, without a general sense that the government is comparable to a police state, do not count.)
> When we don't see things happening like
> a rightwing antigovernment political movement becoming very popular and taking over a significant portion of the legislature;
You mean like the NSDAP? (Yes, I know what you're actually referring to, and no, I'm not trying to compare them to the NSDAP other than the fact the NSDAP also campaigned massively on how bad the establishment were doing, and got substantial public support, as have many other movements that have had both good and bad intentions).
This is making assumptions about the power structure of an authoritarian government that are too simple. There's been plenty of authoritarian government where "mass movements" were built promising massive change and an opposition to current government practices, but where they were used simply for internal power struggles and getting a "clean slate".
Again, Mao is a good example - the Cultural Revolution was used as a means to imprison or disgrace a long list of high powered opponents of Mao, some, like Deng Xiaoping, who later eventually managed to run China despite never taking the posts that would have given him official leadership (making him another good example of how looking at formalities of who are officially in charge doesn't work very well).
> a leftwing anticapitalist political movement staging provocative long-term demonstrations around the country with, at the end of the day, mostly pretty reasonable interactions with various municipal police departments, and managing at least to significantly influence the debate;
Occupy was never a threat to anyone - it was horribly disorganised, had no understanding of actual left wing politics or the history of these kind of struggles in the US to the point where they were largely a joke. If anything "occupy" was a useful outlet to let people take out their frustrations without achieving much. A smart authoritarian government should "encourage" demonstrations like that - if nothing else they'd be greatly useful in charting "persons of interest".
Mao is again a perfect example of why "influencing the debate" in itself is meaningless: His "Hundred flowers campaign" is a textbook example of how to encourage debate, give the debaters room to get their frustrations out, and then shut the door (option extra for advanced authoritarians: carefully observe the debates and take note of who might be a continued threat, and find ways of making sure they aren't - up to and including arrest, or simply ensure they are ridiculed).
> a judge placing harsh limits on a practice by a city's police department that was found to be unconstitutional?
What about high level officials being arrested for corruption and abuse of powers? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-23776348
China prosecutes or persecutes even high level party officials on a semi-regular basis, and has since Mao's time (e.g. again Deng Xiaoping is a good example) - it's a great way of getting rid of people that have lost internal power struggles while giving an aura of accountability. It's also just good practice to apply harsh limits on parts of governments that does not impact your ability to rule - the more people are led to believe that the government does actually abide by the rules the less impetus there is to rebellion even if everyone realises that they live in an authoritarian state.
As long as you're in a "free speech zone".
Since the US is basically a corporatocracy, we're already there.
Already happening. Assange abroad, Barrett Brown here in the US.
That's been happening here for years. Why does the US not have it's Jeremy Paxman?
> (3) Political mobilization is fine. No repression.
You're joking, right? The Occupy protests in Texas? Infiltration of protest groups and false flag events? Tch.
In the USA, it'll be when discussion becomes moot. The ruling elite need not prohibit free speech when no one is listening.
For example, when ever someone say the word torture, there is always someone who would argue that simulated death and forcing up hoses into peoples noses to force-feed them is somehow not torture. By focusing on the general case rather than specific cases, the discussion in this thread has been of so much higher quality.
That said, if any of the statement sound surprising, I am more than happy to re-locate the source which inspired that sentence.
"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution (1996)
She is a well-known libertarian writer, though she seems to have unplugged in the past few years. She has a Wikipedia article for more details.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Doing something now is the only way to prevent things from getting worse. I just wish there was a clearly defined, nonpartisan plan to fight back (peacefully). The sooner someone can create this step-by-step plan, the sooner the masses will know what to do. It must be spelled out for them and packaged right, and maybe advertised on the Discovery channel (little joke).
(It's almost a line from So Long Marianne by Leonard Cohen.)
The US has the highest incarceration rate on the planet and perhaps in history. I'd say we're there.
It is too expensive and inefficient to follow everyone personally. You can instead shoot a satellite in the space that each second takes high-definition infrared photos of Earth and can pinpoint/track/identify each person by their uniquely located veins/blood packets on their shoulders. See? Khazakhstan v. 2.0.
Secret police in kaz aren't very secret, and I feel far more intruded upon and am more careful about what I say in the US than there.
The thing is, they don't need to follow you around the same way as in the 'old days' because, like many things, modern technology makes it easier and more efficient.
The tyranny of the future isn't going to be like that of the past. That makes it difficult to explain the dangers to people.
Rather, the risk is that surveillance, censorship, intimidation, selective law enforcement, and so on are targeted at specific political opponents --- such as Aaron Swartz, Barrett Brown, Glenn Greenwald, Marin Luther King Jr. and so on.
Such authoritarian harassment presents a straightforward threat to democracy because it stifles political dissent.
Democracy is incompatible with the stifling of political dissent.
1. The ignorance on the part of the police and agents was stunning. Conflating Hindu and Muslim?
2. The explosive alarms.... Evidently they are set to detect some very common household chemicals. Based on the story I am assuming the culprit in this case was household ammonia. It isn't clear to me that the agents would have any idea as to what could trigger a false positive either.
The obvious problem is that you get a superposition of spectrums of multiple chemicals from the sample and that the devices being cheap and fast produce "blurry" spectrums, so you get a lot of false positives.
To say that we're the only species to engage in murder and genocide is flat wrong: chimps will happily murder other chimps, even infants . Maybe we're not as civilized as we think we are, and all the narratives and uniforms and laws are just theater to subsume and rationalize our animal savagery.
Nothing is ever simple, so I can't imagine this tells the whole story, but it's a big big factor, and it doesn't help anyone to ignore it.
Hell, casual racism is basically an (awful) American tradition. Unreasonable search and seizure most emphatically isn't.
Anyone who has been investigated for a DWB might disagree.
Casual racism and unreasonable search and seizure have been pretty consistently tied together as a common standard in policing, not just in the U.S, but across the world. There is something in the way that police organisations operate that makes them particularly susceptible to treating racist stereotypes as probable cause.
I grew up in a communist totalitarian regime and I am not amused at all. We live in different world now and even oppressive regimes do things differently but that does not mean they are less dangerous... I would say exactly the opposite. Some person claimed in this discussion that "the US continues to be one of the most free countries in the world in all respects" - I am not sure I personally believe that but my main point is that this does not matter at all even if it were true. There is huge inertia and a country might still seem relatively free even years after it passed the point of no return on the way to oppressive regime. When the situation is so severe that it is visible to everyone... it is already too late and the most likely scenario in that case is that the whole generations will be lost.
It is my impression that people from countries which in their modern history never experienced totalitarian/oppressive regime severely underestimate (or in most cases are totally blind to) warning signs.
For those who are interested please let me offer personal view of someone who does have an experience with totalitarian regime - you might think I am oversensitive but despite the fact that years ago I had spent few months in the US and I loved it and despite the fact that I believe there is nothing about me that could trigger their attention I would still be afraid to visit again and I decided to strictly avoid even flying over the USA.
P.S. The fact that the guy was even refused water just makes me sick.
She's right, and like her, I have found it next to impossible to explain this to Americans who think the US is turning into a police state.
People making this claim should spend a few hours reading on history and learn about the Gestapo or the Stasi.
What's happening in the US occasionally produces unfortunate episodes, such as the one above, but by and large, the US continues to be one of the most free countries in the world in all respects.
Most especially, better than the fucking Nazis is not good enough.
Tyranny does not happen overnight, and it's helped along by people like you who scoff and say "oh, it's not that bad really" until it's too late. "First they came for the Communists..."
I'm pointing out a logical mistake in someone's reasoning and now I'm helping tyranny?
Don't you think you're taking this a tad too seriously?
Those words echo through my head every time I click open one of these threads on HN. It's like suddenly the rich white guy is getting oppressed, so we're obviously in a police state! Never mind for the years leading up to this point, the US was doing much worse shit; they just happened to be doing it to minorities.
And you can see it in this thread. Everyone concentrating on the fact he was detained, not the reasons, when the whole damn article is about how the US treats people who look like they're from certain countries like default terrorists.
I'm half-black. There was never a glorious past that would have suited me better than this moment, right now. Yes, I do worry about total surveillance.
US involuntarily have all pieces of the puzzle for a very high quality totalitarian state. The question is whether someone will be able to assemble them before the immune system of the american society activates in full force and dismantles them.
Surveillance capabilities: check
Militarized police: check (Balko has some scary data, but haven't checked it thoroughly)
Obedient propaganda machine: not quite there, but as the lead up to the Iraq war showed - achievable.
Secret laws: check
Btw - KGB means "Комитет Государственая Безопасност" which translates into " Committee for State Security" not that far from "Department of Homeland Security"
As John Oliver said a few weeks ago about NSA: "We don't say you broke any laws with what you did, we are surprised you didn't have to."
Lets just hope that the US society will be able to reverse the trend.
The word 'Homeland' actually creeps me out more than 'Heimat'.
The Gestapo and the Stasi were evil because they were dedicated to preserving the power of a very small section of the population.
That hasn't happened in the US (yes, it is true that some sections of the population are victimised more than others but nevertheless the US is still a mostly functional democracy).
OTOH, it's not 1981 anymore - they don't need to physically follow people around. Additionally many things that are happening at the moment in the US are reminiscent of the very things that former-communist states were criticised for.
Some specific examples:
* There was outrage when the Berlin wall fell and people discovered that the Stasi had records on 1/3 or the East German population. Now the NSA probably has record on close to 100% of the US population.
* The US used to believe in the idea that everyone had to obey the law and especially the constitution. Now it is accepted doctrine that the President can evade this by using executive orders. That appears to mean that the president has complete, unchecked power and is almost completely above the rule of law.
* Eastern block countries were criticised for the fact that police could stop people and demand to see their papers.
I suppose if you ignore the fact that we have an order of magnitude more prisoners than any other country that is true. You cannot claim we are one of the most free countries in all respects when we have so many people in jail (which is basically the polar opposite of freedom).
"People making this claim should spend a few hours reading on history and learn about the Gestapo or the Stasi."
So if we have not yet descended to the level of the Nazis, we could not be a police state? This kind of "race to the bottom" attitude is dangerously misguided. We already have soldiers enforcing the law. We already have combination law-enforcement/intelligence agencies. We know that the police are lying to judges and prosecutors about how they gathered their evidence. Peaceful political protesters have discovered undercover police spies sent to their groups. Even if we accepted your extreme definition of a police state, we are in a lot of trouble as things stand right now.
No, no, what is troubling is when you look at the system as a whole and how it is evolving, and you start to ask questions:
1. Is there a best effort attempt at justice for all?
2. Is there any ongoing program to limit and reduce .gov security organs?
3. Is there anything to be done peacefully if the .gov security organ decides to attack dissenters?
4. What is the cost of non-peacefully reigning in a malfunctioning .gov security organ?
1 is far from sure, 2 is a no, and 3 is an empathic "oh shit", and 4 is just a shitshow.
The concern must not be "how bad are the outliers today"--the concern must be "are we setting up a system which will be infeasible to repair in the next five to ten years".
If this is true, then why does it jail more people per capita than any other country by a long, long way?
Your population can't be simultaneously one of the most free and be the most incarcerated, as that makes no sense.
If the effectiveness of a justice system is seen in terms of rate of incarceration, then the society that takes that view does not sound particularly as though it believes in freedom as a fundamental value, but rather prefers values like retribution and security through deferment to authority.
"US inhabitants are that much more disobedient to the same laws than those of other countries"
This doesn't hold any water either. For one thing disobedience is an aspect of freedom itself, so that a free society would presumably have a reasonable tolerance to simple disobedience and wouldn't use disobedience in and of itself to justify incarceration and would need to establish harm and public interest. Also, the rate of incarceration in the US is so massively higher than other countries that it becomes patently ridiculous to try and justify it by claiming people in the US are that much less moral than other people and so need locking up more.
I know you don't subscribe to these stances and say that they are just other possible explanations, however I do not think they qualify as possible explanations, as they have some incompatibilities with the general concept of freedom, and the actual situation in the US.
There are certain behaviors that the society has to be protected from, right? After all, freedom doesn't mean much if i.e. you can be attacked, killed or have your properly stolen without consequences. Incarceration might not be a particular effective method, but how else do you propose such cases should be dealt with?
it becomes patently ridiculous to try and justify it by claiming people in the US are that much less moral than other people
Not saying that people in the US are "less moral", as this could create the wrong impression, still US do appear to have significantly higher rates in homicides and violent crimes. I.e.
"In 2004, there were 5.5 homicides for every 100,000 persons, roughly three times as high as Canada (1.9) and six times as high as Germany (0.9)"
"I know you don't subscribe to these stances and say that they are just other possible explanations
The reason that I am looking for other possible explanations is that I don't feel the massively higher number of incarceration that you are mentioning is reflected by a similarly massive difference in the laws, culture and practices of the US compared to other developed countries. I mean, simply put, what are the things that in the US would get you in jail and they wouldn't in, let's say, the UK? Somehow I don't feel they are that many to justify a massive difference in incarceration numbers.
There is no way in the UK to get a life sentence from a small crime in the way that the three strikes laws do in the US.
In general our jail sentences are much shorter for equivalent crimes in the US and we have nowhere near the rate of incarcerating children either and are much less likely to get the police involved for misbehaving in school.
We are also much less likely to incarcerate for drug possession over here.
There are also crimes that simply do not exist in the UK, such as jaywalking, which got the Oxford historian, Professor Felipe Fernández-Armesto, locked up for the evening when he visited Atlanta for a conference. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/jan/11/highereducation.ed...
The US also has a habit of handing out sentences far longer than the possible lifespan of the accused even for non-violent offences, such as the 124 years that Hector Monsegur is being threatened with for his role in lulzsec, or the 150 years handed out to Bernie Madoff, which the Judge stated was "to send a symbolic message".
Overall, for the same acts, in the US you are much more likely to be jailed than in the UK and also, even if you would have been jailed in the UK, the length of sentence is far far higher in the US.
We stopped and chatted for a few minutes on the border from Russia to Kaz, and they let us go on their way. No in-depth search, no bribes, no nothing. Oh, and they take their border security seriously - they just don't do security theatre.
You know, it strikes me that one of the large differences between most of these countries, and the US, is the relative size of the population to the government+military. For having a population of 300mm people, somewhere less than 5 million people (~1.7%) work in the US public sector.
What this means is, we could have just as many secret police following people as happens under any repressive regime--but the vast majority of US citizens would never be aware of it, since in relative terms "being followed around by a black van" would be about as rare per capita as "being struck by lightning." You wouldn't personally know anyone it had happened to, you'd only read about it--and so you'd think it wasn't really a thing that happens here.
wow - what a brilliant way of describing it
That's the NSA's job, or so they think....
I've never been there but would expect from any post-soviet country a great deal of nobody caring about you and not many secret police anywhere.
You may be thinking of the former Eastern Bloc countries, which with a few notable exceptions have followed a much more democratic path after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
In terms of personal freedoms, average life in Kazakhstan is on par with the US, if not "freer" than the US. It's certainly no police state.
I think that she may have mistaken overt police corruption for a police state. The two are not synonymous.
Tajikistan is different as the president's power is somewhat limited the further away you go from the few important cities.
Don't know much about Kazakhstan, but I suspect it's more or less like Uzbekistan.
Mexicans, Americans, Ecuadorians, what's the difference?
> The ex-soviet central Asian republics are packed full of secret police.
Put it this way - at the border between Kaz and Uzbek, we...
Stole the border guard's hat.
In front of him.
Stole his gun.
Then all sat around together laughing and joking eating pot noodles.
Had we done the same in the US, I would not be writing this, as I would likely have been shot dead on the spot.
I'm not saying anything about "democratic path". That I am saying is about nobody caring about anything (probably with an exception of taking bribes) in most of ex-USSR countries.
Or you can take the train.
"With little fanfare, the agency best known for airport screenings has vastly expanded its reach to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos, highway weigh stations and train terminals."
I was afraid I was going to be put on the no-fly list afterwards and would have to travel back to NYC by train (a four-day trip).
Even before this experience I used to avoid flying in favor of taking the train. I don't know what I'd do if the TSA became commonplace at train stations.
I suspect that they only bother to do the random searches if they've gotten some specific alert or warning.
Many, many trips between Chicago and SF, Portland, and Texas, or rather, California Zephyr, Empire Builder, Texas Eagle, and Spirit of New Orleans etc. Haven't had any need to go through Bloombergville, though so ymmv.
It's not that simple. It's very very hard to travel if the government doesn't want you to.
There's a permanent roadblock across northbound lanes of interstates in New Mexico (and, I think, Arizona), and across many of the smaller roads in southern Arizona (and, presumably, New Mexico).
> if I'm a US citizen. Then I was free to go.
It also helps to be white, fwiw.
Logic like this means you essentially hide from the problem until there's nowhere left. What happens then?
The point is, I think we still have travel alternatives and legal protections from abuse.
The federal government only has the authority to affect travel between states, not within a single state. If the TSA starts interfering with movement in a single state (like on the NYC subway system), we'll see pushback from the state and local governments.
You mean, if the TSA starts screening (and, thus, assuming the power to reject) passengers for intrastate air travel, like they have been since day one of TSA operations?
Nope, in fact NYC welcomed the Terrorists' Surrogate Army invasion of the subway.
When you travel by air, you are cramming yourself into a small metal tube with 300 other people. The other 299 people want everyone there to be checked for weapons, so the government does this.
If you want to be able to travel without being screened, there are tons of options available to you. But the reality is, you have no right in the US to travel, and the government can set whatever standards they want for public spaces. There are plenty of options available for traveling without being screened. They cost more than the mainstream ones. (Buy your own plane and see how many TSA checkpoints you go through.) But just because something is expensive doesn't mean that you are being deprived by the government of some right.
If you want to fight the TSA, shouting "police state" just makes you look stupid. You should figure out how to examine the effectiveness of the TSA numerically, and explain that to your elected representatives. Has the TSA slowed the growth of the air travel industry? Are there racist patterns in the TSA's profiling? If you can prove something with data, people will listen. But whining about the end of the world on a website nobody reads isn't going to solve any problems. It just makes you look like an out-of-touch anti-authoritarian teenager.
Look: I really believe that you can get around the TSA and that it isn't a police state. This is not the Holocaust. This is not the end of the world. It's just an inconvenience you have to pay to get a $200 round-the-world flight.
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/, article 13.1: "Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state."
"and the government can set whatever standards they want for public spaces"
So, in your opinion, a government can decree that whites can't travel first class in planes, or that women must wear a burkha on the street?
For me, all that hyperbole makes it hard to see what value your arguments have.
Show me the line that says it has to have such a line.
Article the eleventh .... The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Article the twelfth ... The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights)
Further, show me the line of the constitution that specifies the technology by which any of its rights are to be executed.
Show me the line that says it has to have such a line.
If I want to fly and apply myself fulltime, I can have my flying license in a month, being free to roam most of the national airspace (as long as I tell some people where I'm going, so they can help me prevent collisions).
I would surely expect it to be the same in the US: everyone has the right to travel by air, provided they adhere to a minimal set of guidelines to prevent them from endangering themselves or others in ways obviously directly related to the 'flying' itself (and not to e.g. the suspicion that someone might have a 1% higher change of using the plane for a terrorist attach).
What happened? Did you have a stroke? Are you actually jrockway's brother-in-law, "borrowing" his handle?
All I can say is that the hysteria is at an amazingly-high level. I am not sure why I even read TSA-related articles anymore.
I think the reason people are incredulous because your claims are blinkered. You're a sharp dude. I like most of your posts. But you are just not aggressively shortsighted enough to be excusing this with a straight face.
And your argumentum ad leaderboardum sucked transcendentally. You are totally, totally better than that.
But I do think that the answer to someone being mistreated at airport security shouldn't be to "take the train". It is true that the train will probably not have as onerous security requirements, but then that isn't really the point either.
If we put restrictions on a mode of transportation those restrictions should in general be in keeping with some legit governmental goal. "Airport security" does meet this, but I don't think we can say the same for all of the treatment OP actually received.
It should be at least part of the answer; a big part of the idea of the TSA (and one of the reasons the airlines got on board to help lobby for it) was that it moved the responsibility and potential liability from the airlines to the government (who, incidentally, has a whole host of immunities to deal with the "liability" aspect.)
Voting with your dollars away from industries whose services require being subjected to the TSA sends a message -- not directly to the government, but to the industries involved.
That's not to say its the only response, but voting-with-dollars ought to be part of the response.
(EDIT: I misquoted you from memory)
First, it was easily three times the cost of a round-trip ticket. Okay, I'm willing to pay. Second, we're talking about four or five days worth of travel, which, again, might be okay, except that I end up at Salt Lake City (yeah, that far north) on a bus headed south to Las Vegas.
So much for a train to Las Vegas.
Okay, how about Seattle? The company I work for (in Ft. Lauderdale) is headquartered in Seattle. That was an easy $2,000 train ticket taking a week to travel one way.
If I wanted to take the train to Washington, D.C.? No problem there. Same with a train to New York, New York. Boston. In fact, if you are somewhere along the east coast of the US and want to head to the major northeast cities, you will probably have no issues taking the train. Elsewhere? Probably not.
Edit: If you think posts with lol are a good thing please say why.
People won't realize the problem until it is too late.
Get some perspective.
And like jrockway said, he is somehow on the leader board. That probably ought to mean something.
By analogy - should someone automatically be pardoned for a crime they commit today (let's go extreme and say murder), because they had displayed good behavior in the past?
All of this said, I am a bit surprised by some of jrockway's comments in this thread, given his posting history. Almost enough to wonder if someone else has taken control of his account.
Plenty of other people have been banned for saying "Fuck you" on here, and it's interesting that jrockway silently edited his comment to remove his swearing at someone else on here, as well as removing his invitation to check that he's a huge karma accumulator - which he seems to think actually means something.
Anyway, I"m not a mod, just someone who's a bit tired of one set of people being treated differently.
losethos is a talented programmer with schizophrenia. The reason his posts deserve to be killed is because they are 98% content free and occasionally disturbed, paranoid, and racist, hallmarks of schizophrenia. But losethos the person, as a human being in distress, doesn't deserve any of that.
With AQAP's bomb-making experts (who can make bombs with no metal parts whatsoever now) I can see why they need to make super-duper sure that a hit for explosive material is absolutely a false positive.
But that doesn't explain the rude treatment, the confiscation of gear, the refusal to provide water, or having 5 different government agencies (and JetBlue) all gang up on him.
There has to be a more "public serving" way to handle the necessary task of public safety.
(Side note, who the hell comes up with these names, and why hasn't somebody with some experience with marketing and PR talked to them?)
Oh, they have it. You're just not the TSA's customer.
Rail's handling of TSA should be a model
Besides, they'd probably comply willingly. The airline companies and airports do; hijackings just ain't good for business.
The main way to fight these "administrative searches" is to show that they are too invasive, or not narrowly tailored to achieve their purpose, both of which are criteria US courts have shown they care about.
> The operation resulted in several arrests by the local transit police, mostly for passengers with warrants for prostitution and minor drug possession.
Not really meeting the criteria you're talking about.
Meanwhile, universal searching (at first by metal detector, later by other means) of passengers at airports has long been held constitutional by courts; if they step outside the boundaries of what's permitted, you can haul them into court over it.
;..whereupon they will promptly grant themselves immunity.
You need to speak up and protest _before_ it is too late. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came…
tbh, terrorists are kinda stupid.