Recently by Becky Akers: Presenting PreCheck: FascistandFurious
You might think the New York Police Department, with its notoriety for abusing civilians and a list of scandals so long it requires its own page in Wikipedia, would avoid furnishing us with yet another reason to despise it.
But no. Like many such forces across the country, the NYPD has grown increasingly fond of strip-searches – and not just of suspected criminals. Cops want to denude all of us, all the time, even when we're merely walking down the street, minding our own business.
The NYPD's Commissioner, Ray Kelly, recently confessed this stunning ambition during a speech at the New York City Police Foundation. He "said the department was working with the Defense Department to develop gun-scan technology u2018capable of detecting concealed firearms,'" the New York Times reported.
The Defense Department? OK, New York City's host of bureaucrats could very well collaborate with Al Qaeda, given how badly they gum up the works. But otherwise, does the NYPD really need to sic the Pentagon on the taxpayers who foot its bills?
Uniformed thugs who expect us to divulge everything suddenly turn shy when we demand the same regarding their mechanical Peeping Toms. We know virtually nothing about Tom except his real name: Terahertz Imaging Detection. The photo the Times ran with its article shows something akin to thermal imaging i.e., the subject's waist glows green thanks to a pistol stuck in his belt.
But this isn't the only gizmo the NYPD and other cops nationwide focus on us. They've also unleashed another, more invasive technology: "whole-body imaging," or, as the perverts at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now prefer to call it, "advanced imaging technology."
You're far too familiar with these scanners. They're the ones at the airport that expose us while also irradiating us – the ones that the European Union banned out of "health and privacy concerns" and that have spawned such groups here as wewon'tfly.com.
What you may not realize is that police nationwide have been wielding these offensive contraptions against the folks they supposedly "serve and protect" for several years now. In September 2010, forbes.com revealed the deployment of "more than 500 backscatter X-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven" around neighborhoods nationwide, "snoop[ing]" into whatever rouses a cop's curiosity. "…the company says law enforcement agencies have … been using them domestically… u2018This product is now the largest-selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,' says Joseph Reiss, AS&E’s vice president of marketing. … The New York Police Department confirmed that it uses the technology but wouldn’t divulge specifics."
Enough to make you stay home except for those trips to the gym, isn't it?
Not surprisingly, cops love these gadgets. And while the New York Times cheerily pretends they'll only violate the Second Amendment with them, we all know the boots on the ground will also aim their X-ray vision at the wannabe actress on her way to an audition. Expect AS&E to profit from hundreds of millions of our taxes over the next few years.
But there's an advantage to the ogling from Your City's Finest, one we've seen with the TSA: punish law-abiding folks as though they're crooks, and they learn to loathe you. TSA now ranks with the IRS as the federal agency Americans most hate; there's no reason that electronic strip-searches will be any more popular on the avenues than they are in airports. Americans' inordinate and craven love for cops may finally end.
Cops' excuse for virtually strip-searching us is the same as the TSA's: we have to thwart the bad guys. And the police-state's apologists are fine with that, claiming that if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear. They seem oblivious to the fact that dragnets don't punish only thieves and rapists but violate us, too.
And they chill all sorts of things we value highly, such as free discourse. Are you liable to mount your soapbox and declaim against Obamacare when you know the van parked across the street is filming you au naturel?
What about travel and socializing? Some flyers figure voyeurism is the price they pay for a break on the Caribbean's sunny beaches – but is a mere trip across town for dinner with friends worth flashing your junk?
Meanwhile, virtually everything the TSA finds on passengers is innocuous, embarrassing, and of no relevance whatever to terrorism. Cops' gawking will produce similar results.
For example, searches have snagged passengers carrying more cash than Our Rulers prefer. Stowing a generous wad in your pocket doesn't break any laws. But the TSA "detains" such victims, forcing them to justify their stash and grossly inconveniencing them – or worse. In 2009, Steve Bierfeldt of the Campaign for Liberty taped his interrogation and bullying at the TSA's hands when he tried to fly home with $4700 from a political fundraiser.
Imagine cops who are still leering over your scan accosting you in front of friends and family, ordering you to assume the position, and then quizzing you on where you got your $600 and what you intend to do with it before finally, grudgingly releasing you.
Often it's not money that triggers a physical frisking but a medical device or a prosthetic limb. The TSA is infamous for tormenting invalids when its "whole-body imagers" pick up "anomalies." Cops will likewise investigate anything unusual their contraptions reveal, despotically shaming tens of millions.
The TSA has annihilated freedom for a decade now; police departments have done so for almost 150 years, since their introduction here in the 1850's. It's past time we rid ourselves of both enemies.
February 25, 2012
Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.