Communion Of Dreams

TSA: Defining 1% as success.
November 18, 2008, 10:33 am
Filed under: Civil Rights, Constitution, Daily Kos, Failure, Government, Politics, Privacy, Society, Terrorism, Travel

Vice President Dick Cheney is reported to have set forth the “One Percent Doctrine” following the 9-11 attacks.  The basic premise is that if there is just 1% chance that an enemy is planning a serious terrorist attack, we have to treat it as though it were a certainty, and respond accordingly.

So, I suppose it really is no surprise that all the absurdity of “behaviour detection” that the TSA employs at airports leads to just a 1% arrest rate, and that they proclaim this as “”incredibly effective.”  No, seriously:

TSA’s ‘behavior detection’ leads to few arrests

WASHINGTON — Fewer than 1% of airline passengers singled out at airports for suspicious behavior are arrested, Transportation Security Administration figures show, raising complaints that too many innocent people are stopped.

A TSA program launched in early 2006 that looks for terrorists using a controversial surveillance method has led to more than 160,000 people in airports receiving scrutiny, such as a pat-down search or a brief interview. That has resulted in 1,266 arrests, often on charges of carrying drugs or fake IDs, the TSA said.

* * *

TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe said the program has been “incredibly effective” at catching criminals at airports. “It definitely gets at things that other layers of security might miss,” Howe said.

Sure it does.  Because people who are carrying drugs or using a fake ID are really the terrorist threat that you say you are protecting us from. And to achieve that, they had to have over 99% false positives.

It’s just more Security Theater, of course: the illusion of ‘doing something’, not any kind of practical prevention.  I’ve written about this often, and in looking back through those posts it is clear that the real effect of this whole bureaucracy is to make us more and more inured to the systematic destruction of any sense of privacy at the hands of our government.  As I wrote just over a year ago:

Over the weekend, news came out of yet another “Trust us, we’re the government” debacle, this time in the form of the principal deputy director of national intelligence saying that Americans have to give up on the idea that they have any expectation of privacy. Rather, he said, we should simply trust the government to properly safeguard the communications and financial information that they gather about us. No, I am not making this up. From the NYT:

“Our job now is to engage in a productive debate, which focuses on privacy as a component of appropriate levels of security and public safety,” Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, told attendees of the Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s symposium in Dallas.

Little wonder that they’re happy to define 1% as “success” – it gets them exactly what they want.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI and Daily Kos.)

3 Comments so far
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Wonder why this little gem of Republican logic doesn’t apply to global warming? To wit, “If there is just a 1% chance that global warming is real (of course, it’s MUCH higher…), we should consider it to be a certainly and throw adequate resources at the problem to defeat it.” Whaddaya say, “Dick”?

Comment by Paul

Wait, you can’t be serious – expect some kind of intellectual honesty and consistency from the Bush Administration???

Jim D.

Comment by Communion of Dreams

[…] Like I said, surprising. […]

Pingback by Hey, it’s just $900 million … | Communion Of Dreams

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