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April 20, 2011

National Security Wisdom from the Joker

Security TheaterCato's Julian Sanchez brilliantly sums up the logic behind the national security policy that leads our government to impose this kind of absurd abuse on its citizens:

Batman's archnemesis the Joker--played memorably by Heath Ledger in 2008′s blockbuster The Dark Knight--might seem like an improbable font of political wisdom, but it's lately occurred to me that one of his more memorable lines from the film is surprisingly relevant to our national security policy:

"You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go 'according to plan.' Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all 'part of the plan.'"

There are, one hopes, limits. The latest in a string of videos from airport security to provoke online outrage shows a six-year-old girl being subjected to an invasive Transportation Security Administration pat down--including an agent feeling around in the waistband of the girl's pants. I'm somewhat reassured that people don't appear to be greatly mollified by TSA's response:

"A video taken of one of our officers patting down a six year-old has attracted quite a bit of attention. Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures."

While I suppose it would be disturbing if individual agents were just improvising groping protocol on the fly (so to speak), the response suggests that TSA thinks our concerns should be assuaged once we've been reassured that everything is being done by the book--even if the book is horrifying. But in a sense, that's the underlying idea behind all security theater: Show people that there's a Plan, that procedures are in place, whether or not there's any good evidence that the Plan actually makes us safer.

And this is not all about civil liberties, either. As David Henderson points out, citizens who throw up their hands in disgust with the TSA's security theater and elect to drive rather than take a short-haul flight risk a fatality rate that is 80 times higher per mile than travelers on a commercial airliner face.

In short, the TSA is killing people.

As with the overcriminalization of American life, the TSA is an ominous reflection of a federal government and major political parties that are increasingly remote and unresponsive to citizens.

Is it too late to change? That would be a good question for someone to ask President Obama, who was famously elected on the slogan of "change we can believe in."


Posted by Tom at April 20, 2011 12:01 AM |


These latest restrictions on our liberty can be traced from the Patriot Act, and that law was a consequence of Bush's illegal wars begun after the false flag operation known as 9/11.

President Blackbush is equally culpable in catering to the greed of the rich people who are heavily invested in the military/security complex.

It is naive in the extreme to think that the corporate media is going to inform the public about why we are always at war, and the connections between the need to feed the war machine with tax policies which hurt only the middle and lower classes, while war profiteering co's such as GE earn billions in profit and pay zero in taxes.

If the public was informed, we could have universal healthcare, and a rising standard of living, rather than millions without adequate healthcare, a falling standard of living, more liberty, and less cynicism about our political system - if rich people and co's were forced to pay their fair share of taxes.

Who will tell the people?

Posted by: Bill McWilliams Author Profile Page at April 20, 2011 8:25 AM

When the laws of the United States were codified as the United States Code in 1925, all of the titles combined occupied a single volume.

75 years later, the same limited scope of authority has risen to the point where NO ONE EVEN HAS ANY IDEA WHAT THE TOTAL NUMBER OF VOLUMES IS!

By 1998, the CFR all by itself contained 134,723 pages in 201 volumes that claimed 19 feet of shelf space. The GAO reports that from 1996 to 1999, 15,286 new federal regulations went into effect. Of these, 222 were classified as "major" rules, each one having an annual effect on the economy of at least $100 million.

The Tax code alone, according to the US Government Printing Office, was 16,845 pages long in 2005!

Since the start of 2000, Congress has created at least 452 new federal crimes. So the total number of Federal crimes as of the end of 2007 exceeded 4,450.

In 2005, it was written that: “Not so long ago, the federal budget was less than 3% of GDP. This was when America was building its infrastructure. Now it is above 20% of GDP and growing at a record pace. Add all other taxes to that for a whopping 43% of GDP

If not to make every act or every citizen criminal or arguably criminal, what are all the 21 million government employees in america to do?

Posted by: cbr Author Profile Page at April 20, 2011 1:05 PM


"If not to make every act or every citizen criminal or arguably criminal, what are all the 21 million government employees in america to do?"

Excellent point, and very good question. As I'm sure you are aware, right here in Houston, "they" seem to be accelerating efforts to get even young children into the LEO/judicial system via arrests
for childish conduct - made criminal.

As always, the key focus should be on WHY.

Posted by: Bill McWilliams Author Profile Page at April 20, 2011 2:46 PM

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