Today’s guest blogger is S. Francis Thorn. Thorn teaches homeland security at a university in the United States. He has a military and intelligence background. This is his first post for Homeland Security Watch.
First off, the “picture” is fake. It is digitally manufactured.
This “art” is taken from a Wired.com article regarding promotional marketing for a medical imaging company. With technology being so pervasive, dare I say promiscuous, it may be more common to see medical imaging technology -or technology in general – being cross-pollinated with other disciplines for different uses. After all, if GPS is good for munitions finding their target, it is also good for helping people find the nearest hospital.
That said, the recent concerns surrounding TSA screening techniques is an indication further discussion is necessary, especially as it relates to the pervasive use of technology and its impact on privacy. When a commercial airline pilot is willing to risk his job – during one of the worst economic periods in American history – over TSA screening techniques, this pilot may be saying ‘I’m no longer willing to ride in the back of the bus.’ And should we blame him? TSA itself has abused the technology.
Additionally, how much confidence does DHS/TSA leadership inspire when a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ security model is projected?
At a recent event at JKF International airport, where Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano was showcasing the new Advanced Imaging Technology (ATI), she apparently did not participate in demonstrating the efficacy of the technology, but instead used “volunteers.”
But let’s not skirt the main issue – which is protecting the American flyer from terrorism. Let there be no doubt, the threat is real.
In the context of threats to U.S. Airlines, there may be some common denominators – like citizenship (…or the citizenship of packages). Poor Juan Williams…
Marwan al-Shehhi (United Arab Emirates)
Fayez Ahmad (United Arab Emirates)
Mohald al-Shehri (Saudi Arabia)
Hamza al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia)
Ahmed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia)
Mohamed Atta (Egypt)
Walid al-Shehri (Saudi Arabia)
Wail al-Shehri (Saudi Arabia)
Abd al-Aziz al-Umari (Saudi Arabia)
Satam al-Suqami (Saudi Arabia)
Hani Hanjur (Saudi Arabia)
Khalid al-Mihdhar (Saudi Arabia)
Majid Muqid (Saudi Arabia)
Nawaf al-Hamzi (Saudi Arabia)
Salem al-Hamzi (Saudi Arabia)
Ziad Jarrahi (Lebanon)
Ahmad al-haznawi (Saudi Arabia)
Ahmad al-nami (Saudi Arabia)
Saeed Alghamdi (Saudi Arabia)
Richard Reid (Great Britain)
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (Nigeria)
One challenge with aviation security — as last week’s air cargo incident illustrated — is that there is a significant international aspect. The U.S. has integrated itself into the international system (i.e. globalization) to such an extent that external security threats are having an impact on internal freedoms. In the context of aviation security and its affect on privacy, the conversation regarding America’s relationship with the international community has been anemic.
For example, if individuals are traveling from overseas to kill Americans, is it appropriate to revisit programs like our visa wavier program before placing tighter security restrictions on the internal movements of American Citizens? Internationalism, in many ways, is antithetical to the American ethos.
For those curious about how America might interact with the global community, President George Washington’s Farewell Address is a necessary primer. As a suggestion, pay particular attention to Washington’s council “to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” Essentially, with certain caveats, Washington’s prescription for preserving American freedom is for the United States to interact with the global community in the most detached manner possible.
In the context of America’s approach to aviation security or National/Homeland Security writ large (i.e. international security partnerships/alliances/collaboration), it seems a question we need to answer as a nation is – whether Washington’s council is relevant or obsolete?
For those who consider Washington’s council is obsolete – strike a pose.