Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 16, 2010

Why I Hate Freedom

Filed under: Aviation Security,General Homeland Security — by Deirdre Walker on March 16, 2010

Dee Walker has appeared in Homeland Security Watch several times.  Her initial and subsequent posts about her experiences with the Transportation Security Administration continue to ripple. — Chris Bellavita


I was recently quoted in a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The column was a re-hash of my on-going struggle with TSA.  I have struggled over many months to elevate the debate about TSA above the “why can’t I keep my water”  and “why does my grandma have to get out of her wheelchair” dialogue.  Apparently, my struggle has been in vain.

In a comment posted to Daniel Rubin’s column, a reader asked, “Why does Deirdre Walker hate freedom?”

Wow.  I didn’t know I hated freedom.  Then, I began to think about it and I realized, yup, I do hate freedom.

Here are my top 10 reasons: (Well, I was going to have 10, but since everyone in the public sector is cutting back, I’ll cut back to 5.)

  1. I am a hedonist. Freedom requires work and sacrifice.  As a former police officer, I worked rotating shifts, weekends, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s.  I worked midnights and then got up after two hours of sleep to sit in court all day, then returned to work the street a few hours later.  I worked snowstorms and tropical storms, undercover and sometimes unarmed in order to arrest drug dealers and pimps.  Later in my career, I jumped from bed at 2am or whenever the phone rang on my birthday, on Christmas and during vacations.  Until very late in my career, none of this felt less a privilege than a sacrifice.  Then I looked back at an adult life characterized by missed birthdays, funerals, family dinners and some seriously dysfunctional personal relationships.  Only then I realized what sacrifice looks like and more importantly, I understood what it feels like.  I don’t just speak of it.  I did it.  Generally, it kinda sucks.  It makes you older faster and more cynical than most.  I hate sacrifice, therefore, I must hate freedom.
  2. I am adventurous. Freedom, apparently, requires that we all have the same, safe perspective on freedom.  This apparently means neither questioning authority nor challenging conventional wisdom (an oxymoron that I love).  Clearly, those irritating activities were good enough for our Founding Mothers and Fathers, but why should I get involved?  I have built a life and career on asking “why” and challenging the answers I received.  That is how, I think, we step into the abyss of change.  Change, it seems, is a threat to freedom.  I love change.  Therefore, I must hate freedom.
  3. I am agnostic. I was not raised in a religious family, and I see that as a good thing, personally.  I am generally very ignorant regarding most forms of formal religion.  Due to my interest in all things homeland security, I probably know more about Islam than I do about Buddhism or Christianity.  I have deep and abiding respect for the rights of my fellow citizens to worship as they please.  I do not see a commensurate tolerance for those of us who choose not to worship formally; in fact, we are often viewed with pity, regarded with suspicion and spoken of with bile.  Religious freedom is a foundation of our Constitution, and apparently, God loves freedom.  I do not believe in God and therefore, I must hate freedom.
  4. I am comfortable. I have no room for learning from people with whom I disagree.  I cannot fathom that I might not be right, all of the time, and why on earth anyone with half a brain would bother to disagree with me when I am so very clearly right.  As a retiree, I recently enrolled in a graduate studies program so that I might more effectively plumb the depths of my lack of tolerance for new ideas; but really, I already know everything I need to know.  Therefore, I must hate freedom.
  5. I am disingenuous. I made a career of being a good “second”.  As an assistant chief of police, I did not aspire to my bosses job.  I got to do the work, and he got to take the heat.  Well, it seems I say I like to fly under the radar, but I currently miss no opportunity to step into the light to rag on TSA.  Unfortunately, I am very deeply concerned about the agency trajectory and have spent quite a bit of time composing my thoughts on this topic.  I have tried to ensure that this dialogue is informed by my education and experience, not just my emotions.  Challenging a key component of the Department of Homeland Security has led many people to quite reasonable offer that I because I do this, I must hate my country.  Fortunately, I like it when people question my motives and label me as unpatriotic.  I thrive on reflexive insults.  I am rebellious not robotic and therefore, I must hate freedom.

So, I hope I have made clear why it is that I hate freedom.  Freedom is overrated and undermined.  It is perishable.  It takes too much thought and debate.  It requires a lot of work.  It breeds humility and tolerance.  Who has time for any of that?

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Comment by Dan O'Connor

March 16, 2010 @ 7:42 am

Wow…a refreshing, candid piece. Somewhere along the line the lines between freedom and security blurred. Freedom, often ill defined and nebulous is sticky, complex, and defined by any number of points of view. To question authority is freedom. To take risks is freedom. To wonder, aloud and in prose; yes, freedom. And unfortunately, to do absolutely nothing and allow others to dictate your behavior is also freedom. Our growing national penchant for complete security all the time is counterintuitive to the axiom of freedom. In an unintended or perhaps unforeseen consequence, our liberties and freedoms have elevated our collective expectation; entitlement. I think we all suffer some degree of it from time to time. However, it’s within that entitlement mindset that we begin to expect, no demand complete safety and security. And of course this is done by legislation, expenditure, and expectation.

For every decision and/or action we take there is a consequence. Our expectation of no fault or zero defect freedom is an epic fallacy. In our hyper connected, 24 hour news cycle, ratings grabbing media machine, we are bombarded with all that is wrong and how vulnerable we are. We are told constantly how much debt we have, how bad our food is, how rotten our health care is, and how inept our government is. Ladies and Gentlemen, citizens and beneficiaries’; this is freedom at work. I don’t care if I agree or disagree with Diedre. As is often the case, I do on some things and others I don’t. Can we both be right about the same thing and disagree? Perhaps. Freedom is not math or physics…there is no exacting formula and every bias, prejudice, and point of view shapes the definition of it.
However, if we choose not to empower our intellect and impassion our point of view, we will, over time lose our collective voice and drift into acceptance of status quo. Again, freedom at work. I think Marianne Williamson captured it best in a few select words;
Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.
I think we are at a crossroads of sorts. The combination of many factors have left us both physically and existentially vulnerable. Do we have the collective mettle to push back and challenge poor decisions and policies? Are we actually more secure than in the past?
If you believe our way of life and our freedoms are under attack and choose to do nothing, you are a contributor to its descent. If you choose to do nothing, your consequence is nothing. I don’t have to agree with Diedre or anyone else for that matter. They do not have to agree with me. But if we do not understand that our privilege to be “free” is lessening than we no longer deserve it. I innately know that there is a risk with independence and freedom of choice. I also know that things beyond my scope of control happen around me, all the time. Life’s a risk. Let’s try to make the most effective, choices we can. We cannot protect everyone all the time from everything.
Sticky, uncomfortable, and ill defined, freedom and security don’t have a perfect fit. Decisions and compromises are required. Are we prepared for the work that lies before us?
Thank you Diedre for a most excellent post.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 16, 2010 @ 9:44 am

Thanks to Diedre and Dan for wonderful post and comments. “Escape From Freedom” [was that Hayek?] seems to be apt to some degree.

Disclosure! I am now in love with a woman who I have never seen and never met and know only through her HLSWatch.com posts.

And DAN there do seem to be limits to “Cause and effect” analytical frameworks although to some degree underly the Newtonian revolution in science [natural philosophy then] and the scientific measure.

The bottom line is that federal programs, functions, and activites are often political solutions to problems or even political compromises. But there are some basic reasons for TSA wandering in the darkness and fearing the light. First, no one seems to have thought through the first principles of transportation security. Second, what are those principles? Leave that to others more expert in transportaton security than myself but certainly the identified weaknesses in the current set up should be studied and corrected. What seems to be the case is that TSA is not a learning organization. Also the politicization of TSA runs deep with almost 25% of the top positions politically vetted formally or informally and workers with few rights and therefore malleable to each boss’ whims. Retention and recruitment statistics should reveal part of the problem for rank and file. What are the actual backgrounds of the rank and file and leadership? How many had as the primary fact that they were unemployed when hired as the reason for their being hired? And what do most do when they depart?

The airlines heavily lobbied for creation of a TSA post 9/11 and they continue to manipulate it even though by every standard imaginable they are the last to want a “free market” economy. Are other nation’s airlines just not doing TS or are there more effective models? How would TSA know whether other models are better or not. I do like the fact that some attenton now being paid to sniffers and puffers even while TSA and DHS continue to invest in documented failed technology or unproven technology. One might ask why this bias?

Comment by Dan O'Connor

March 16, 2010 @ 10:47 am


Completely concur with your comment on cause and effect. Black Swans and randomness aside, I was drawing a metaphor of sorts…. excellent comments and I’ll await the Disclosure! accolades in the future.

Good Day

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 17, 2010 @ 10:07 am

Cupid has struck HLSWatch.com! Certainly unprepared for such a scenario unfolding….

To have spoken to special ops soldiers first to kick in the doors of concentration camps, to listen to the stories of their findings, to talk with a woman who as a little girl, watched her entire family mauled down by Germans, SS troops whose leadership was required to trace back their roots as far back as the 17th century to become SS commanders…oh, how many I spoke with under attack at Pearl Harbor as Japanese planes hovered above and then came straight towards them, the stories of US military officers being duped by Jaspanese officers who stated they wanted to surrender and later their heads cut off placed on their rifles with helmets on – not a pretty picture Life without freedom….also, just how crude and outright damned in hell mankind truly portrays….The numerous fellas I spoke with over many years reflecting on the day they hit the beaches in Normandy, the horrid stories they shared, the cost of Freedom….

What really disturbs me is that mankind’s brutality is ever more present here in the US as its government, those we have “entrusted” by precious vote, where today people in other parts of the world standing in line waiting to vote will be killed by suicide bomber, out elected officials, folks like Kerry and people whose smug smile like Pelosi and “Mr. Barney” and of course the illustrious Harry Reid, a President whose pop-culture popularity helps him through each day, while his broken promises, an economy stalled and on the verge of swooping down on its U-shaped recession causing numerous “good ‘ol beltway boys” to bailout, not to seek another term, a gridlocked Washington, afraid to lead, to portray strong leadership. The Israelis have God on their side who will always protect them, do we have God by our side when you Mr. President, knowing the Constitution as you do, allow Nancy Pelosi to cirumvent the Constitution in her self-agenda – I call for her immediate resignation for the indignation of her by the American populace and my dislike of her smug smile is quite evident –

A young woman, a Persian woman, whose preciousness in a rcih history of an educated, wonderful people, her blood spilled on the streets of Tehran murdered because she chose to protest…The dastardly deeds continue today by the “Brutes of Tehran” – Will it be Israel that attacks Iran, the Americans, the Brits, well my bet, it will eventually be the Germans who are leading the EU with a fast deployment Army, new shiny naval vessels sailing the Meditarannean, a thirst for oil and thus, the new Middle East power broker to go head to head with the Iranians, the same whose hands are so bloodies with the preciousness of our youth who as US soldiers are found everywhere professing the story of Freedom versus evil-doers, those seeking our demise in every way possible, never to be underestimated.

No, we cannot assure that this great nation under God, based on Judaic-Christian values, a country founded by pioneers, innovators, men and women who chose to stand up to the King and say, no more taxes and fees as we will no longer tolerate such abuse, such dysfunctional ruling and fled to find a new world, a beacon of hope in Freedom which has captured the minds, the souls of so many from our shores and beyond, a Freedom which has afforded many like me tha opportunity to stand in the street with protest against the injustice of those whose power has crippled them and placed us in such peril once again as every form of manmade government since Babylon
has failed for man’s lust for power, greed, self-agenda, the same we see with the beltway gridlock today, the partisanship, a German-led revival which will unleash a worldwide conflagration…Freedom is so precious and your vote “entrusting” those at the helm, so taken for granted….

God Bless America!

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA

*Interestingly I visited the “Wall Street fellas” last week asking for $200 million dollars as a loan to reach out to Africa, the Middle East, to the Gndges River in India “invest” in the infrastructure -substantial and profitable – wastewater development, water purification project development, the opportunity to make a difference and give another a clean glass of water, “to make a difference” and apparently the turning of cheek, the frowns, the opportunity to reach out to the less fortunate – to do a humanitarian deed is overshadowed for any checks I could see written were bonus checks “Mr. Barney” for it was you standing at the podium standing and making pleas for “bailout fiat bucks” and later finding no explanation as to the whereabouts of $750 billion in first checks to Hank Paulson et al….

The present mentality –

“Let the people go thirsty for they are mere servants, underlings, – so what if federal employees on the Hill, senate workers and others directly involved with our elected decision-makers owe millions in back taxes Representative Lynch (MA) – tell the press just how much is owed as they will be shocked – so what if the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (MA/DOR) replies to my inquiry that it only certifies employee filing each tax season, however MA/DOR officials have no idea who may owe taxes within its own rank while good citizens, taxpayers who are in proper appeal have their bank accounts levied, principal residence placed lien and their Right to drive their automobile stripped of them placing them in peril, unable to go to grocery store, to pick up meds, to help spouse transport the family, so what, obviously Freedom today is dealt from a stacked deck….

….Freedom as afforded by the vision of our forefathers, clouded by you Mr. President as you do not stand up and speak out against Nancy Pelosi and her outragious statements –

How dare you, Sir, allow the US Constitution to be so compromised and you, a scholar in Constitutional law, have not an excuse!

It is not the one term Presidency you will serve which is unfortunate given the promise to address the demeanor of Washington, but our fear here on Main Street USA that the likes of those so felonious to the principals of man, will tear us to shreds and as already a – bankrupt state – anguish and despair to pervade our family, community….

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