TSA spends $900m on useless “behavior” program

According to a Government Accountability Office report, the Transportation Security Agency has blown through nearly $900 million on an ineffective behavioral training program designed to teach TSA agents how to spot potential terrorists based on their mannerisms.  Fewer than 1% of passengers spotted by TSA agents have been arrested and accused of terrorist activity.

A federal review of the program has offered no evidence that the costly program has enhanced the United States’ ability to stop terrorism before it starts, leading to the GAO’s recommendation that the government cut the program entirely.  The GAO accused the government of rolling out an expensive program without a reasonable expectation of its effectiveness, typical of many government initiatives.

The program supposedly trains TSA officers to spot suspicious behavior in a crowd of people, distinguishing between normal activity exhibited by passengers simply stressed out by travel and from a nervous person intent on committing a terrorist act.

The program has cost taxpayers $878 million since its inception in 2007.

Read the entire report here.


We don’t have to sacrifice our liberties for security

I wish I could say I was shocked at the reports the NSA is secretly spying on the private phone calls of millions of Verizon customers. However, this is a predictable result of a government that continues to erode our liberties while promising some glimmering hope of security.

The Fourth Amendment is clear; it says we should be secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects, and that all warrants must have probable cause.

I opposed and continue to oppose the Patriot Act because I believe it throws the Fourth Amendment right out the window. It is certainly not patriotic to support warrantless wiretaps, blanket ‘metadata’ collection, and spying on innocent American citizens.

Unfortunately, what is worse than the reports, is knowing that politicians of both parties will continue to defend this practice as necessary to supposedly keep us ‘safe’. We do not have to sacrifice our liberties for security. At times like this, the question must be asked, ‘if we are willing to change our way of life and our very definition of freedom while tolerating the invasive searches at our airports and now of our phone calls, have the terrorists already won?

D.C. prosecutor: Gun bans increase violence, create false security

Gun1Author and attorney Jeffrey Shapiro wrote an eye-opening piece in the Wall Street Journal this week about the effect that strict gun control legislation had on our nation’s capital.  Numbers clearly show an increase in gun violence when gun controls are in effect and a decrease when law-abiding citizens can protect themselves with firearms.

“As a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who enforced firearms and ammunition cases while a severe local gun ban was still in effect, I am skeptical of the benefits that many imagine will result from additional gun-control efforts.”

Although Shapiro admits to personally disliking guns, the city numbers do not lie, and they paint a picture that does not bode well for the nation as regulations on guns become more restrictive.

A 1976 law in Washington D.C. banned firearms from everyone except police officers.  This ban included residents of D.C. keeping firearms in their homes, although some were allowed to keep their firearms under the condition that they remain disassembled or trigger-locked.  According to the city, broken guns were sufficient for private, law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.

Over the years since the ban took effect, gun violence rose.  “It emboldened criminals because they knew that law-abiding District residents were unarmed and powerless to defend themselves. Violent crime increased after the law was enacted, with homicides rising to 369 in 1988, from 188 in 1976 when the ban started. By 1993, annual homicides had reached 454.”

Gun violence nearly tripled during the ban, and people’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms was clearly trampled on.  In 2007, a D.C. appeals court ruled  the ban unconstitutional and subsequently repealed the law, allowing people in D.C. to once again take advantage of their 2nd amendment right.  Gun violence decreased sharply since the law’s repeal.  In fact, less than 100 murders took place in the city in 2012, a far cry from the number of murders during the gun ban.

“The urge to drastically restrict firearms after mass murders like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month and in Aurora, Colo., in July, is understandable. In effect, many people would like to apply the District’s legal philosophy on firearms to the entire nation. Based on what happened in Washington, I think that would be a mistake. Any sense of safety and security would be a false one,” Shapiro wrote.