More on Airport Security, and a Dash of Conspiracy Theory…

In my initial rant about airline security, I pondered the civil liberties trade-offs associated with a security clearance ID card for frequent air travelers. I still haven’t decided whether I’d opt into such a program or not – it’s bad policy, as a rule, to make decisions about your basic rights based on convenience issues, I think. I’m not the only one thinking about this question, as it turns out. An article in today’s NY Times (“ID Cards for ‘Trusted Travelers’ Run Into Some Thorny Questions”) looks at the idea, and in addition to considering the civil liberties implications, it also talks a great deal about the basic efficacy of such a program. It’s certainly worth a read, especially for anybody who has to travel.

But as I type this, a wonderful conspiracy theory presents itself. Say I’m somebody like John Ashcroft. And being a fascist, I want to know everything I possibly can about everybody in the world. But I’m also smart enough to know that overt intrusions upon people’s rights draw attention and resistance, so the sneakier I can be, the better.

But hey – what if there were a program that would subject people to all kinds of unreasonable investigative scrutiny, and better, they would beg to be included? How sweet would that be? I mean, hell, we’ve already dropped the term “shadow government” on them and they didn’t even flinch.

But how to get them to buy in? Well, if they get hassled at the airport often enough…

Of course, I’m being silly. John Ashcroft doesn’t control airline security, and imagining all these dark networks of power connecting like-minded paranoiacs throughout the government… well, that’s just one episode too many of “X-Files,” ain’t it?

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