TSA’s Pre-Check program convenient, or invasive?

Transportation Security AdministrationThe Transportation Security Agency has quietly rolled out the Pre-Check program that allows frequent travelers to voluntarily submit to a background check, interview and fingerprints in exchange for a much faster experience through TSA checkpoints in airports.  Is this program convenient for frequent travelers or something much more invasive?

Since 2011, the TSA has tested the program at 40 different airports.  It allows pre-screened travelers to proceed through TSA checkpoints without removing their shoes and belt.  Light jackets can be worn and computers / liquids can remain in carry-on luggage.

The program requires an $85 enrollment fee, but there is no guarantee that travelers will pass the background check and get approved – or be provided a reason if denied.  Worse, approved travelers are still not guaranteed to swiftly breeze through TSA checkpoints due to the agency’s random screening of pre-checked passengers and lengthening Pre-Check lines.  Approved passengers can be removed from the program at any time, without notice or reason.  However, their background information remains saved.

The FBI keeps fingerprint records on file for 75 years and are used in the investigation of crimes by local and federal law enforcement agencies.  Along with a background check and personal interview, financial information is also required before passengers are approved for the program, which is NOT protected under the Privacy Act of 1974.  As a result, travelers are not permitted to request a copy of the information that the TSA investigation keeps on them, which makes it nearly impossible for law-abiding travelers to ensure accuracy and protect against abuses of personal information.

Privacy rights activists are concerned over the information that average Americans are willingly giving up to the government.  “I would not apply for one of these trusted-traveler programs, which in the past have involved giving the government more information or authorizing it to get more information about me,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Lee Tien.

Even if you are lucky enough to get approved for the program, there is no guarantee that the “elite-line” will be any faster than the regular TSA checkpoint lines, or more organized.  “Most recently, I was flying Delta from LaGuardia and the TSA PreCheck line at the terminal looked like it was a mile long and not moving very fast at all while the normal and elite security lines were chugging along and a lot shorter,” remarked one traveler.  “The non-TSA agents manning the lines were not checking for TSA Precheck and frankly the whole situation was out of hand. Something is wrong with this picture. Or many somethings.”

After the TSA expanded the Pre-Check program to 60 airports earlier in the year, passengers nationwide have noticed a distinct lengthening of lines through the very Pre-Check areas that were designed to avoid long and frustrating wait periods that the unwashed traveler is subjected to.

Now, 97 airports participate in the program.

FDA-approved drugs kill 100,000 every year

DoctorsMedications approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration result in 100,000 deaths every year from what the federal agency describes as “Adverse Drug Reactions”, or ADRs.  Worse, over 2 million Americans suffer non-deadly adverse reactions to drugs every year that the FDA has approved “safe”.

ADRs refer to negative reactions that Americans suffer from taking drugs as directed by their doctor or the drug’s manufacturer.  These cases DO NOT include overdoses or drug abuse.

In fact, the FDA claims that adverse drug reactions account for the 4th leading cause of death “ahead of pulmonary disease, diabetes, AIDS, pneumonia, accidents and automobile deaths”.  Who is the FDA truly protecting, and what responsibility does the FDA accept in the number of deaths that result from its approved drugs?  These deaths give the phrase “FDA Warning” a whole new meaning.

The bureaucratic mess of the FDA makes the formulation of effective new antibiotics cost-prohibitive, according to Steve Forbes, by changing the rules in the middle of clinical trials and adding significant and arbitrary new requirements into the testing process.  This results in an increase in drug costs for everyone and demonstrably fails to make Americans more safe.

Thanks to the Food and Drug Administration, you are much more likely to be killed by FDA-approved drugs than you are from terrorism.  How many terrorist attacks on U.S. soil would it take to keep pace with the number of Americans that FDA-approved drugs kill every year?

2,996 people died in the September 11th attack.  Doing the math, that amounts to more than 33 9/11-style terrorist attacks every year.

The United States spends around $75 billion every year in its combined anti-terrorism efforts.  The FDA’s budget of just over $2 billion pales in comparison, but what are Americans truly getting for their money?  The real threat to American lives comes from expensive drugs and bureaucratic legalese that makes effective testing expensive and cumbersome, leaving Americans to literally fight for their lives amid a slurry of expensive medications that our government has deemed “safe”.

In a healthcare system considered the best in the world, Americans should expect better than 100,000 deaths a year.  The first step is recognizing that government almost never knows best.

Ron Paul trashes Boston police response, and he is right

It does not take a sitting Congressman or member of government to publicly criticize the Boston police department for their martial-law-style pursuit of the second Boston bombing suspect a week ago.  But perhaps it does take someone outside of Congress to be right in their assessment.  Former Congressman Ron Paul took to the digital airwaves to lambaste how Boston police dealt with the second bombing suspect, which included shutting down transportation systems, driving tanks down residential roads and forcing residents out of their own homes at gunpoint.

And he’s right.  Going house-to-house and forcing people outside of their own homes at gunpoint has no place in a free society.  Treating every man, woman and child in Boston like potential terrorists only makes terrorism win.  Terrorists have already won the battle over fear. They have successfully conned the United States into expensive and never-ending wars overseas. They have conned the United States into establishing so-called “security departments” (like the TSA) that strip-search grandmothers and children. They have conned the United States government into imposing martial law and conducting warrantless searches at gunpoint.

The question here is how much liberty are we prepared to give up to maintain some semblance of “security”? We know that people were forced out of their homes by men with guns during this incident, but as Paul pointed out, after all the police presence, after every person brazen enough to walk the streets was patted down via the use of robots, after all the martial-law style military presence in the area, it was a resident that found the second Boston bomber.

How should we handle these kinds of situations?  How do they handle any other murder suspect that’s on the loose? Do they drive tanks down residential streets and force people out of their homes at gunpoint? No. Do you realize how much help from the PUBLIC that the police department got? Put out a picture of the suspect on television and get the public looking for this individual, and I’d bet my bottom dollar that the suspect would have been found and apprehended HOURS before he actually was. Suspects who are on the run don’t like the public knowing what they look like. They want to blend in. Criminals use the public for their own benefit, and this kind of martial law that happened in Boston is precisely the reason why.