Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another Case of Overzealous "Security" Searches

Here is a Global TV video of an 82-year old cancer survivor with her horrifying story of being put through a humiliating "security scan". Here is the key bit from the associated Global TV story:
As she was going through security she was asked if she had any liquids or gels. She said “no,” not mentioning that she had a gel-filled prosthetic breast.

When the airport scanner detected the gel a rigorous pat-down was begun and she was forced to show the prosthesis.

“I definitely didn’t want the world to know I had cancer and a mastectomy. It’s embarrassing, no matter what age you are,” she said. The security agents also asked her to lift her arm, which she found difficult due to the surgery.

“There were two involved, a male that asked me questions and a female that actually chuckled when I said I can’t lift my arm. And I really can’t because of the mastectomy.”

After her story gained national prominence, she said she received two phone messages from agents from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. She wasn’t home at the time to receive them, but Strecker said they contained an apology and promise to investigate the incident.
This is yet another story of a "police" organization that has lost all judgement and sensitivity. With authority goes great responsibility. Society expects its police/security agents to use intelligence, sensitivity, and appropriate judgement. Sure it is a hard job. But if you are given the position you have to rise up to the level of responsibility and authority given to you. It is wrong to simply accept bad behaviour and let authorities to run roughshod over people.

People are at their best when they show empathy and band together. People show their most contemptible properties when they attack the weak and defenseless:
Since her story garnered national publicity, Strecker said she’s received several anonymous voice mails accusing her of using the incident for personal gain.

She said the calls were ridiculous.
I have no doubt that the anonymous callers are full of self justification and think they are on a "holy mission". But they are vampires feasting on the spilt blood of a victim. They hide under anonymity. There is nothing wrong with holding back your identify so that you can freely express your opinion, but you need to use intelligence and sympathy. To use to cloak of anonymity to attack the weak and defenseless is reprehensible.

If you want to see the kind of vampires and monsters that pick on the weak, watch this video from CBC's The Fifth Estate called Justice for Nadia, where a Minnesota man lures people into suicide. This story focuses on a Canadian girl who was encouraged by this Minnesota male nurse urged on to suicide and how a retired teacher in the UK with tenacity solved the mystery and found the man who had pushed so many to suicide. Watch the video. Here's the description of the video posted on the CBC site:
William Melchert-Dinkel, a 47-year-old licensed nurse and married father of two teenaged girls, allegedly used multiple pseudonyms in the hopes of watching someone take their life online. Investigators say he may have convinced dozens of people to kill themselves, over years, contacting more than 100 people on the web.

It's the fall of 2007 and Nadia Kajouji has no way of knowing she is about to fall into the clutches of an online predator when she turns to the web for help. She is just eighteen years old, pretty, self-confident; a talented and ambitious student. Her sights set on a career in law and politics, she's in her first year at Ottawa's Carleton University. Nadia's bright future soon takes a tragic turn. She succumbs to a crippling depression that sparks suicidal impulses—impulses nurtured and fed by an online counsellor named Cami D. Nadia doesn't know it, but Cami D is alleged to be a web predator, a "cyberpath". He pretends to be a young woman, also battling depression, to gain her trust, then encourages her to commit suicide while he watches on a web cam. Driven to the edge by the stranger, Nadia jumps from a bridge and is found drowned in the Rideau River.

The fifth estate follows Cami D's trail to Wiltshire, England, where a 64-year-old grandmother makes an astonishing discovery. The amateur sleuth unmasks the cyber predator's true identity while trying to help another teenaged girl being urged to make a suicide pact. The fifth estate catches up with the real Cami D - William Melchert-Dinkel - in Faribault, Minnesota, where he now stands charged with two counts of assisting suicide. If found guilty, Melchert-Dinkel may be the first person ever successfully convicted for persuading a person to commit suicide over the Internet.

The fifth estate takes an in-depth look at the upcoming trial and the complex legal questions it will address. Can a suicide voyeur be convicted for their online role in another’s death? How do you regulate or legislate against such horrifying web-based acts? What are the implications for jurisdiction when borders are crossed with the click of a cursor?

Back to the issue of "airport security". Here is a bit from a post by The Atlantic journalist, James Fallows:
The issue also has a feature by Jeffrey Goldberg that is interesting, like everything Jeff writes, but is to my mind completely wrong-headed. And wrong-headed in a way that I think Jeff would be the first to recognize if it concerned a field he was more familiar with.

He talks about taking a private-plane flight -- in a rich friend's twin-engine jet -- from Teterboro airport, outside New York, to Dulles airport, outside Washington. Jeff's surprise is that he didn't go through the formal impedimenta of "security" as we have come to know it in the TSA era. Therefore this must constitute a gaping hole in the nation's security structure. Ie, Security you don't see is security that's not there.
Think about all the "little people" who are subjected to degrading "security" checks while those who can afford a private plane can hop in their planes and go for a joy ride. Any security threat? What about this guy with a grudge against the US IRS and flew his plane into a building resulting in 2 deaths and 2 serious injuries, but could have been much worse. No security required for private planes, right? But an 82 year old woman... well, nothing less than a strip search before it is "safe" to let her on a plane as a passenger!

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