Over the last few months, the citizens, residents, and visitors to the United States have been regaled with stories of how the Government of the United States has been invading their privacy, opening their mail, listening to their phone calls, and generally monitoring their daily lives. Of course, this is all in the name of security and to protect the public from the bad guys.
Up to this point in time, the revelations have been about how the National Security Administration are capturing your metadata, but not actually listening to your calls or reading your mail in real-time - they claim. But we have always suspected that other aspects of our life were under scrutiny.
Today, we got our answer:
The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information. (New York Times)
What starches my socks is not that the TSA is doing this. We pretty much knew they were doing this, even if we did not know they were doing this. No, what really galls me is that the TSA has a new program, called TSA Pre, which:
...allows select frequent flyers of participating airlines and members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs who are flying on participating airlines, to receive expedited screening benefits. Eligible participants use dedicated screening lanes for screening benefits which include leaving on shoes, light outerwear and belts, as well as leaving laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-on bags.
And to get this benefit, you have to fill out an on-line application, have an in-person interview and, most importantly, pay the TSA for the privilege every five years! Currently the fee is $85. Now some frequent flyer programs include this in the ticket price, but for the average Joe Flyer, you are on the hook. Yet the TSA is already doing a complete scan before you board for free! OK, so it is not really free. I have already paid for it with my taxes, fees, and other departure costs rolled into the ticket.
So what is the point? Already, the United States has more secure screening processes in place, compared to the rest of the world. I can leave my shoes and belt on in Europe and Canada. The x-ray machines can already pick out my laptop. And frankly the screening outside the US is much better than what the TSA is doing. So why should I be paying the TSA? They already know more about me than I do. I have already paid the fee, several times over, and they already have done the in-person interview, every single time I fly.
I am opposed to the police state the United States has become. There are a number of reasons for this. But to charge the flying public to go through security is really taking the cake. As the saying goes: There's a sucker born every minute. Clearly the American public is the sucker, and their own government is taking advantage.