Posts tagged FAA

Wednesday Lazy Linking

Communications:

I feel safer already… (#2)

… now that I know the bright bulbs within the federal government air travel Securitate are mulling over a privateering firm’s proposal to force all airline passengers to wear a remotely controlled electric human collar. For security’s sake, of course.

The promotional video suggests that some, perhaps many, regular flyers would be willing to wear a shock bracelet like this in order to get the benefits of convenience and increased security that it offers. But the argument isn’t entirely ingenuous, because whether airline passengers would choose to wear them or not, Less Lethal, Inc. prefers its markets captive, and would rather get the TSA and the FAA to do the choosing for everyone, whether the passengers like it or not.

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers (video also shown below).

This bracelet would:

  • Take the place of an airline boarding pass

  • Contain personal information about the traveler

  • Be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage

  • Shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes

The Electronic ID Bracelet, as it’s referred to, would be worn by every traveler until they disembark the flight at their destination. Yes, you read that correctly. Every airline passenger would be tracked by a government-funded GPS, containing personal, private and confidential information, and would shock the customer worse than an electronic dog collar if the passenger got out of line.

Clearly the Electronic ID Bracelet is a euphemism for the EMD Safety Bracelet, or at least it has a nefarious hidden ability (thus the term ID Bracelet is ambiguous at best). EMD stands for Electro-Musclar Disruption. Again, according to the promotional video, the bracelet can completely immobilize the wearer for several minutes.

So is the government really that interested in this bracelet?

Apparently so.

According to this letter from DHS official, Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development, which was written to the inventor whom he had previously met with, Ruwaldt wrote, To make it clear, we [the federal government] are interested in … the immobilizing security bracelet, and look forward to receiving a written proposal.

The letterhead, in case you were wondering, is from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security office at the William J. Hughes Technical Center at the Atlantic City International Airport, or the Federal Aviation Administration headquarters.

In another part of the letter, Mr. Ruwaldt confirmed, In addition, it is conceivable to envision a use to improve air security, on passenger planes.

Would every paying airline passenger flying on a commercial airplane be mandated to wear one of these devices? I cringe at the thought. Not only could it be used as a physical restraining device, but also as a method of interrogation, according to the same aforementioned letter from Mr. Ruwaldt.

— Jeffrey Denning, Washington Times blogs (2008-07-01): Want some torture with your peanuts?

I sure would feel so much safer wearing an electric device that would allow third parties to torture me with immobilizing electric shocks whenever they want to force me to comply with their orders or want to end an argument that they feel has grown tiresome. I feel safer already knowing that the government officials who have the power to force these torture devices on everyone are interested and consider this an acceptable way to treat their fellow human beings.

Jeffrey Denning’s post on the proposal ends with a couple of questions, which no doubt seemed reasonable to him, but which strike me as rather weird questions to ask.

Why are tax dollars being spent on something like this?

Is this a police state or is this America?

The short answer to the second question is Yes. And if you understand why the second question doesn’t pose a genuine dichotomy, then the answer to the first question should be more obvious than Jeffrey Denning might like to think.

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Airport security

Over in Washington, D.C., the usual bellowing blowhard brigade are bickering over what set of orders to give to airlines and airports about how best to run their own businesses. Here’s a little item that I noticed in the midst of it, which it may be interesting to consider in light of what I said the other day about cops and prison guards coming in many shapes and sizes.

I want the American people to understand this, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said at a news conference after the vote. The next time they’re stranded on an airplane and they’re wondering why they can’t get off, or why they don’t have food or water after four hours sitting there, it’s frankly because of Republican obstructionism.

No, it’s not.

Boxer sponsored a provision in the bill that would have required airlines to provide food, drinking water, cabin ventilation, toilet facilities and access to medical treatment for passengers on planes stuck on the ground for hours.

James Hohmann, Los Angeles Times (2008-05-07): Aviation safety bill stalls in the Senate

Hey, I’ve got an idea.

Rather than trying to pass a new law requiring airlines to provide better prison conditions for passengers forced to stay on a plane while it’s grounded for hours, why not let people get off the damn plane while they wait?

If I’m in a restaurant for hours without getting any service, I can get up and leave, and get my dinner somewhere else. If I’m waiting for my car to be repaired and it’s taking too long, and the coffee is bad and the television is blaring Judge Judy (as it always is), I can get up and walk down the street or hop on a bus to go somewhere until my car is ready. If I’m on a bus and the bus breaks down and another bus won’t arrive for an hour, I can get out and walk or call a taxi. I don’t have to worry about angry fellow customers, or bad ventilation, or no food and water, or my medical conditions, or overflowing latrines, because, in any place of business except for those that operate under a special license from the government and its National Security apparatus, I am free to just turn around and walk away, if, when, and for as long as I’m tired of being there, without being locked in, without being threatened, without being tasered, and without being arrested.

But when a federally-licensed flight crew seals the doors of an airplane, even if you are sitting on the ground for hours, you are legally their captives and it is (as they will very quickly tell you as soon as they want to make you sit down and shut up) a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison to interfere with the performance of their duties, which air marshals, the FBI, federal prosecutors and federal courts will happily interpret as meaning absolutely any disobedience to the the arbitrary orders of your smiling, uniformed captors.

If you don’t want people to face unbearable conditions on grounded airplanes, you don’t need to pass more laws and regulations to make their captivity less obnoxious. You just need to repeal an existing law and leave people free to go somewhere else when they don’t want to stay on the plane anymore. If you make flight crews and airport officials treat a grounded airplane as a prison, you shouldn’t act all surprised when passengers end up getting treated like prisoners. The obvious solution is to open the gates and break the chains.

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