“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, January 01, 2007

"Your papers please."

Watch any of the old black and white spy thrillers of WWII or the Cold War and there invariably appears the scene of the "papers check." Some sinister government or police agent politely but sternly demands to check the papers of some fearful traveler. Life, death or freedom hang on the scrutiny and the instant decision of the inspecting agent.

The tension and consequences would get worse if the target was selected for further interrogation.

The film or print technique was meant to build tension and highlight to the audience, the insecurity of the time. The scene always had a particularly strong affect on American and English audiences because such high handed authoritarianism was unknown in the Anglosphere. Over the centuries, millions of English speaking peoples fought and died for civil rights. Law was made to presume innocence. Kings, great lords, police and petty politicians were forced to restrain their urge to exercise powers of investigation and intimidation. Individual rights were balanced against intrusion and repression.

Since 911, a paranoid insanity has infected government authority. Balance and common sense has been lost. I travel regularly and it is nothing to see obviously innocent and non-threatening people facing the indignity of intrusive searches by government agents, not because they are a threat, but because political correctness demands it. Group guilt suspicion and doubt focused on innocent compliant citizens, by government that has slipped the bounds and restraints forced upon it by our noble ancestors.

Do not assume it will not affect you and should not be a concern. Many people over many times have made that fatal mistake. Freedoms hard won and at great cost should not be discarded because of government claims of working for a greater good. Government claims of working for the people? Think about it. It is time to place the focus on the logical source of the problem. Muslim extremists are the problem and they are easily identified and should be subjected to additional scrutiny and if need be, repression.

The Telegraph has a story about government demanding to, "see your papers."

US 'licence to snoop' on British air travellers The Telegraph

By David Millward, Transport Correspondent
Last Updated: 1:35am GMT 01/01/2007
Air passengers face having credit card transactions and email messages inspected by the American authorities

Britons flying to America could have their credit card and email accounts inspected by the United States authorities following a deal struck by Brussels and Washington.

By using a credit card to book a flight, passengers face having other transactions on the card inspected by the American authorities. Providing an email address to an airline could also lead to scrutiny of other messages sent or received on that account.

The extent of the demands were disclosed in "undertakings" given by the US Department of Homeland Security to the European Union and published by the Department for Transport after a Freedom of Information request.

About four million Britons travel to America each year and the released document shows that the US has demanded access to far more data than previously realised.

Not only will such material be available when combating terrorism but the Americans have asserted the right to the same information when dealing with other serious crimes.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the human rights group Liberty, expressed horror at the extent of the information made available. "It is a complete handover of the rights of people travelling to the United States," she said.

As the Americans tightened security after the September 11 attacks, they demanded that airlines provide comprehensive information about passengers before allowing them to land.

But this triggered a dispute that came to a head last year in a Catch 22 situation. On one hand they were told they must provide the information, on the other they were threatened with heavy fines by EU governments for breaching European data protection legislation.

In October, Brussels agreed to sweep away the "bureaucratic hurdles" preventing airlines handing over this material after European carriers were threatened with exclusion from the US. The newly-released document sets out the rules underpinning that deal.

As a result the Americans are entitled to 34 separate pieces of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data — all of which must be provided by airlines from their computers.

Much of it is routine but some elements will prove more contentious, such as a passenger's email address, whether they have a previous history of not turning up for flights and any religious dietary requirements.

While insisting that "additional information" would only be sought from lawful channels, the US made clear that it would use PNR data as a trigger for further inquiries.

Anyone seeking such material would normally have to apply for a court order or subpoena, although this would depend on what information was wanted. Doubts were raised last night about the effectiveness of the safeguards.

"There is no guarantee that a bank or internet provider would tell an individual that material about them was being subpoenaed," an American lawyer said.

"Then there are problems, such as where the case would take place and whether an individual has time to hire a lawyer, even if they wanted to challenge it."

Initially, such material could be inspected for seven days but a reduced number of US officials could view it for three and a half years. Should any record be inspected during this period, the file could remain open for eight years.

Material compiled by the border authorities can be shared with domestic agencies. It can also be on a "case by case" basis with foreign governments.

Washington promised to "encourage" US airlines to make similar information available to EU governments — rather than compel them to do so.

"It is pretty horrendous, particularly when you couple it with our one-sided extradition arrangements with the US," said Miss Chakrabarti.

"It is making the act of buying a ticket a gateway to a host of personal email and financial information. While there are safeguards, it appears you would have to go to a US court to assert your rights."

Chris Grayling, the shadow transport secretary, said: "Our government and the EU have handed over very substantial powers to gain access to private information belonging to British citizens."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Every airline is obliged to conform with these rules if they wish to continue flying As part of the terms of carriage, it is made clear to passengers what these requirements are.

The US government has given undertakings on how this data will be used and who will see it."


  1. Like most everyone, I was critical of internal security before 911. I thought young Arab men, already in the sights of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, wanting to learn how to fly, but unconcerned at landing, should have been looked at.

    I welcomed and accepted greater government security at points of entry. I also scoffed at civil libertarians and Left wing paranoia over the subject. During the fifties the FBI investigated and infiltrated the Communist Party and other left wing groups. They used common sense and did not apply equal scrutiny to include the boy scouts for instance.

    Today we have a situation where the need to monitor potential terrorists is juxtaposed by a government and society besmitten with political correctness. I am calling for some common sense and balance and restraint on government intrusion into obviously non threatening honest people.

  2. 2164th wrote, "I welcomed and accepted greater government security at points of entry."

    The Bush administration wants to check the papers of our British friends, but wink and look the other way when millions of illegals slide into jobs here and make a mockery of every immigrant who followed the rules. How about some everyday enforcement actions in the trenches, below the radar, that aren't high-profile set pieces for media consumption? No, won't happen, those companies know which palms to grease in Congress to get the heat off their back.

  3. Rufus, here is a reason that may attract you:
    International tourism receipts grew by 11% in the Americas due in particular to the recovery of North American destinations (+13%). Results were positive in North America for the first time since 2001 as all destinations bounced from the setbacks of the previous years, in particular the USA, the region's as well as the world's major tourism earner, where receipts grew by a remarkable 16% to a total volume of US$ 75 billion or 12% of the world's tourism receipts.

  4. Gradual incrementalism.
    First the airplane seats, then the trains. Soon school buses will require iris scans before kids can take a ride.
    GALVESTON — Technology developed to keep track of prisoners by scanning their irises became available Thursday to identify missing children or elderly people afflicted with Alzheimer's disease in Galveston County.
    The addition of Galveston County is part of an effort to image the irises of 5 million children into a nationwide database over the next few years, said Robert Melley, vice president and CEO of Biometric Intelligence & Identification.

    "We have 1,800 sheriff's departments representing 46 states who have committed to participating," Melley said. ..."

    A brave new world, indeed

  5. It always bothered me that after military service, the FBI kept fingerprint records on me and evey other veteran, yet student radicals on every college and university were not required to have their finger prints taken and stored? Someone will have to explain that one to me.

    TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2000 202/307-0784


    WASHINGTON, D.C. Male military veterans are
    incarcerated in the nation's prisons and jails at less
    than half the rate of non-veterans, the Justice
    Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced
    today. In a new study BJS found that there were 937
    incarcerated adult male veterans per 100,000 U.S. veteran
    residents in 1998, compared to 1,971 per 100,000 among
    adult male non-veterans. Males make up 95 percent of the
    U.S. veteran population.
    Between 1985 and 1998 the number of veterans in the
    U.S. population dropped from 28 million to almost 25
    million. The number of veterans in prisons or jails
    increased by 46 percent, while the number of incarcerated
    non-veterans rose by 172 percent.
    At the end of 1998 there were an estimated 225,700
    veterans in the nation's prisons and jails. About 13
    percent of state prison inmates, 15 percent of federal
    inmates and 12 percent of local jail inmates reported
    having served in the U.S. armed forces.
    These data are based on personal interviews with
    nationally representative samples of prison and jail
    inmates during which they provided information about
    their military service and criminal and personal
    backgrounds. The BJS study also found that:
    --Fifty percent of these incarcerated veterans had
    served during a period of wartime 35 percent were
    Vietnam-era veterans and 12 percent were Gulf War-era
    veterans. Twenty percent had seen combat during their
    military service.
    --Veterans were more likely to be in a state prison
    for a violent offense (55 percent) but were less likely
    to be serving a sentence for a drug law violation (14
    percent) than the non-veteran inmate population (46
    percent and 22 percent respectively).
    --About 35 percent of the veterans in state prisons
    had been convicted of homicide or sexual assault,
    compared to 20 percent of the non-veterans.
    --Thirty percent of the veterans in state prisons
    were first-time offenders, compared to 23 percent of
    non-veterans. Thirty-seven percent of veteran inmates
    and 44 percent of non-veterans had three or more prior
    sentences to probation or incarceration.
    --Among violent state prisoners, the average sentence
    of veterans was 50 months longer than the average of
    --About 70 percent of the veterans, compared to 54
    percent of other state prisoners had been working
    full-time before their arrest.
    --Among state prisoners 12 percent of the veterans
    and 10 percent of the non-veterans said they had been
    homeless at some time during the year before their
    Veterans (45 percent) were less likely than other
    state prisoners (58 percent) to report having used drugs
    in the month before their offense and less likely to
    report being under the influence of drugs when committing
    their offenses (26 percent, compared to 34 percent).
    About a third of the veterans in state prisons and
    local jails had a history of alcohol dependence.
    Fifty-nine percent reported having driven while drunk.
    Since their admission, veterans in state prisons
    reported similar levels of substance abuse program
    participation (34 percent) as non-veterans (32 percent).
    Twelve percent of the veterans had received anti-drug
    abuse professional treatment or counseling since
    admission, 29 percent had taken part in a self-help group
    or education program.
    Veterans who had not been honorably discharged from
    service accounted for 17 percent of the veterans in state
    prisons, 15 percent of the veterans in federal prisons
    and 14 percent of the veterans in local jails. They
    reported more serious criminal and substance abuse
    histories than other incarcerated veterans.
    Combat veterans had less serious criminal histories,
    as well as lower reports of prior alcohol and drug abuse
    than other veterans in state prisons. But combat
    veterans in state prisons had rates of mental illness
    similar to those of other veterans (22 percent,
    compared to 19 percent).
    The report defines a veteran as any person who has
    served in the United States armed forces regardless of
    the type of discharge.
    The special report, "Veterans in Prison or Jail"
    (NCJ-178888), was written by BJS policy analyst
    Christopher J. Mumola. Single copies may be obtained
    from the BJS fax-on-demand system by dialing
    301/519-5550, listening to the complete menu
    and selecting document number 187 Or call the BJS
    clearinghouse number: 1-800-732-3277. Fax orders for
    mail delivery to 410/792-4358. The BJS Internet site is:
    Additional criminal justice materials can be
    obtained from the Office of Justice
    Programs homepage at:

  7. Tourist do not flock to Miss., so we can check the papers and credit card records of plane passengrs, arriving in NYCity, but the thousands that cross the southern frontier, each night, without even a name check, well those are an economic asset, to rufus. Keeps his costs down, eating where criminals prepare the food.

    When will the GOP stalwarts demand the same level of security on all modes of transportation into the US?

  8. 2164th wrote: "It always bothered me that after military service, the FBI kept fingerprint records on me and evey other veteran, yet student radicals on every college and university were not required to have their finger prints taken and stored? Someone will have to explain that one to me."

    Veterans give up any number of their civil rights when they serve, so that others may keep those rights. That makes it all the more galling when the long-haired smellies spit on returning troops.

  9. But, duece, as doug so often tells us, the illegal migrants to the US are overflowng the prisons of California. Allowed into the US without even a name check. Just a short dash across the desert.

    Criminal actities ignored, even promoted, by the varied levels of Government. A conspiracy of lawmakers to ignore the law.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. WC said:
    "Veterans give up any number of their civil rights when they serve, so that others may keep those rights. That makes it all the more galling when the long-haired smellies spit on returning troops."

    All true, but were is the justification for the FBI keeping veteran's finger prints after the completion of honorable service? An honorable discharge should mean something and not be accompanied by a federal "just in case, we will hold onto your finger prints."

    They do not finger print you when you vote or get a driver's license, or apply for and receive welfare or other forms of government assistance. They do not finger print and maintain records on college students. If the government does that to honorably discharged veterans, what are they going to do with the private financial transactions and emails of passengers who use airlines?

    I guess I trust government less than most.

  12. and young Arab men, one and all.

  13. Not less than me, duece.

    The moral stature of the people that are the permenant "Government" is no greater and often less than that of the average illegal migrant.
    Laws are things to ignore, if needed, for personal or professional betterment.

    The battle in Jilib began at 5:00 pm local time on New Years Eve, with an intense artillery dual. The Ethiopian Air Force pounded Islamic Courts positions. By 2:00 am New Years Day, just nine hours after the fighting began, the Islamic Courts retreated, and also withdrew from Kismayo without a fight. Both sides are said to have taken heavy casualties in the fight. A source indicates a significant element of the Islamic Courts army mutinied during the fighting, and others deserted.

    Garowe reports the remnants of the Islamic Courts army and its leadership have fled Kismayo for the island of Ras Kamboni (see our report from yesterday for more on Ras Kamboni). Shabelle indicates "senior leaders along with nearly hundred battlewagons and troops" left the city for areas unknown. A Somali source tells us the Islamic Courts are also moving into the forests west of Kismayo, to regroup and initiate an insurgency. Ethiopian forces are no doubt pushing southward yet again in pursuit of the Islamic Courts remnants.

    The Islamic Courts Abandons Kismayo by Bill Roggio

    Lucky for us that the Ethiopians are not listening to the US State Departmnt spokesmen.

  14. Skepticism about government power was a conservative core belief.

  15. you got to love the smell of cordite at the Elephant Bar......

  16. The German sabatours came by boat during WWII.
    Why expect the same M.O. from the Enemy each time the US is attacked?
    Why expect them to repeat past tactics?
    Mr Rumsfeld and Mr Bush have both said that the Enemy "THINKS" and "ADAPTS".
    Since the air routes are now better secured, why would they not use a "softer" routes instead, this time?

    Prayer rugs have been found outside of Naco, AZ, along the migrant's infiltraton trails. The Mohammedans are using the southern frontier to infiltrate the US. They are obtaning forged documents in Venezuela. Or so say Congressional Investigators.

    But what would they know?

  17. Good one-Yes, even those that weary of the "battle," return after a few days R & R.

    Mon Jan 01, 11:27:00 AM EST

  18. 2164th said, "They do not finger print and maintain records on college students. If the government does that to honorably discharged veterans, what are they going to do with the private financial transactions and emails of passengers who use airlines?"

    Suppose Senator John McCain went on a crusade to purge all veteran's fingerprint data from FBI data banks. In 2008 Hillary would trot out a mother whose husband was killed by some clown who remains at large because there's no way to trace the prints on the knife to the vet who did it. Suppose Senator Hillary Clinton went on a jihad to block the government from looking at credit card information from passengers arriving from overseas. In 2008 McCain would trot out the families of the victims of the toppled Space Needle because no one saw the hijacker's Visa purchase from of five plastic zip guns made to resemble ballpoint pens.

  19. Sounds like "cavity creep" to me.

  20. Ya know if the AQ and the other bad guys in Iraq were smart they would import some of that opium from Afghan and just leave it for free all over the country, especially near our troops.
    Start out with low potency and then over time gradually increase the "kick".
    Or they could just leave it in the "tar" form to be smoked.

    Our guys wouldn't last a year.


  21. Now on our side if we could just use a few small nuclar devices on Afghan/Pak border and a few BLU's in Sadr City....well cheeks up ( as in smile not cavity search)

  22. Trish,

    What are you talking about? Please elaborate.

  23. trish,

    I do not speak for "Israelis". The internal conflict described is solely my own.

    Before writing off Israel, I suggest a review of such things as Israeli patent applications. The US is particularly beholden to Israel the areas of IT, pharmacology, medical research, and defense research. The operating system I now use and the cellphone on my desk, for example had their origins in Israel.

    It has always been my position that Israel should wean itself of it dependence on American largesse.

  24. Allen,

    Then we would be competitors. Israel prefers cooperation with the 3000 pound US gorilla.

  25. Whit,

    Liberal American Judaism spells trouble for everyone, short and long term.

  26. First whit said, "I also see the biggest threat to US/Israeli relations coming from the left."

    Then Trish said, "I think that US support has done it great harm in the long run. It ought be, must be a dependency of no one."

    If the Left ruins US/Israeli relations such that they are forced to rely on no one but themselves, then the Left is doing Israel a favor.

  27. Ok, trish. Give me an example.

  28. Whit,

    You know my opinion. I think all you religious types belong in a freak show.

  29. Whit said, "When Jews and Christians drift away from the Torah and Bible all hell breaks loose."

    There is evidence that drifting away from the Torah and Bible has done some good:

    But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you. (Deut. 22:20-21)

    If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and seizing his genitals, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity (Deut. 25:11)

  30. Trish,

    Military secrets are the most fleeting of all. So the Ethiopians are using Russian weaponry. That's no reason to be a sourpuss.

  31. Mətušélaḥ said, "Then we would be competitors. Israel prefers cooperation with the 3000 pound US gorilla."

    Three thousand lb US gorilla in a tu-tu playing house with the Islamists, drinking State Department koolaid and making funny brownies in the easy bake oven. Not that Olmert prefers playing with G.I. Joe either.

  32. CW,

    You're right. There's something extremely perverse when Saudi money has our 3000 US gorilla doing an Arabian belly dance in a tutu and a ten gallon hat.

  33. Well, there is just a decade between now and the magic year of 2017. rufus's target date for energy independence.

    Have to brdge that gap, somehow

  34. Maybe if the US cut its subsidies to the UN, Egypt, Jordan, Palistan, Saudi jihad, etc., Israel wont feel so helplessly captive to US foreign policy.

  35. Whit said, "The Solar Industry has got to do much, much better than that before the market will embrace it."

    Solar cells are expensive because they are essentially just big IC chips. What we need are some Class 1 Nanotechnology we can spray in a sandbox that will turn it into a perfect photovoltaic array without clean-room conditions. Then we need to spray the stuff on the whole Middle East from the air.

  36. Trish,

    Why do you need to guess? I made it clear and plain. Make it an even playing field.

  37. You spend 100 if not a 1000 times more protecting Arab dictators (you know, the ones Bob likes to call Kings), than pocket change spent on Israel. But what do you get in return?

  38. What can I tell you. Keep subsidizing Jihad. Eventually it will come to bite you in the ass. Hard.

  39. Trish,

    If you wear a burka or a shawl, it makes little difference to me. I can't stand either. So, if it's the religion of peace™ you prefer, enjoy.

  40. Thank you, Rufus. And think of how things would look like if that half trillion dollars (per year!) was spent on R&D. Think if Israel got 1/100th of that R&D money to codevelop with US companies and do its thing in nano technology for example, what the world would look like.

  41. Bob,

    They might be our SOBs, but they're still SOBs.

  42. Rufus,

    A billion or two is still pocket change compared to a trillion.

  43. Rufus said, "We spent Two Billion last year, and Saved $8 Billion in Corn Subsidies to Farmers."

    Saved eight large in corn subsidies? Rufuster, you remind me of some salesman calling me up trying to sell me an electric banana straightener for only $39.95, thus "saving" me twenty dollars from the list price. That $39.95 is still accounts payable, you see.

  44. CW,

    But couldn't you really use a straight banana. C'mon, admit it. :D

  45. Wouldn't it make sense for industry sectors to secure alternate fuel sources, say the airlines, trucking, shipping and heating oil suppliers. If these technologies are available and economical, why are they not doing it?

  46. Last week a B-52 was tested using a 50/50 synfuel mix. Testing goes on.

  47. Trish,

    You might want to look at this:

    Just so you clearly understand who you're keeping company with.

  48. 25,000 schools funded by KSA

    If only 1,000 students every 4 years per school = over 20 million radicalized Muslim every 4 years.

    50 million more in the next 10 years!

    When does the West see that as a problem worthy of a response?

  49. [url=][img][/img][/url]
    [b]adobe creative suite 4 downloads, [url=]software to buy for[/url]
    [url=][/url] desktop software canada adobe photoshop cs3 free trial
    software to buy [url=]oem software licence[/url] microsoft software company
    [url=]place to buy computer software[/url] download acdsee pro free
    [url=]software shopping[/url] buy dvd player software
    office 2003 bypass product key [url=]doctor's office software[/url][/b]

  50. [url=][img][/img][/url]
    [b]windows xp driver updates, [url=]buy my software[/url]
    [url=]buying computer software[/url] download adobe acrobat 9 what photoshop to buy
    sell software in [url=]discounted softwares[/url] discount software house
    [url=]computer software retail store[/url] adobe photoshop cs3 free download
    [url=]download adobe acrobat 8 pro[/url] filemaker pro software
    order software cd [url=]buy free software[/url][/b]