Tag: Terrorism

Open Doors: 4300 Christians Murdered in 2018

Ralph Tiberius Augustus | Brazil

What does it mean to be a Christian? To some, it means finding shelter and strength through our Lord’s word in order to overcome our daily challenges. To others, it means helping those in need. Whatever are your reasons to be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, being a Christian isn’t always an easy task; our faith has tests all the time. To be a Christian sometimes means having to face hatred and persecution. During hard times, it’s quite important for we Christians to keep our faith strong and stay united. 

 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 

 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

– John 15:18-19 (KJV) 

Christian Persecution in the World 

When I say persecution, not only do I mean that Christians are being oppressed through violent means, but also through less obvious means such as biased laws and psychological bullying. A good example of this is how in several countries in the Middle East, laws force Christians to restrict their expression of faith. 

Schools commonly teach about past oppression and violence against Christians. Unfortunately, many of these issues still occur today in parts of the world. Without action, it may only get worse. Currently, persecution of Christians happens mostly in theocratic Muslim countries and areas where terrorist cells have control.

For example, extremists in Syria levied a jizya on any non-Muslims. Those who could not comply had to either convert to Islam or face death. where Christians are a minority and are forced to live under strict regulations such as paying special taxes and not being allowed to practice their faith in public. Moreover, Islamic Saudi authorities violently imprisoned 35 Christians in 2012 for holding a prayer circle.

In several other countries, Christians and other minority religions may only practice their faith in private. In fact, nations with Sharia law often ban items and articles from other religions such as Crucifixes and statues. The mistreatment of Christians is not exclusively in Muslim countries. It also occurs in the Jewish state of Israel and dictatorships such as North Korea. According to Open Doors, the totalitarian state holds some 50,000 Christians in forced-labor camps. 

Open Doors: Christians Murdered in 2018

Sometimes the dedication we have for Christ can even lead to murder. In 2018, 4300 Christians were killed across the globe, according to Open Doors, a non-denominational mission with the goal of helping Christians in countries where Christianity is oppressed for cultural or political reasons. Sadly, the number is only going up. In 2017, there were 3066 murders of Christians for religious reasons. This represents a 40% increase from the previous year.  

However, Open Doors is attempting to eventually bring this number to zero. Andrew van der Bijl founded the group as a small operation to illegally smuggle Bibles to Soviet-controlled Poland in the cold war. Later on, they expanded, smuggling Bibles all over the Communist bloc. Nowadays, Open Doors helps Christians exert their rightful will of regularly practicing their faith in over 70 countries where oppressive laws still exist.

An Increased Danger 

As stated above, the murder rate of Christians drastically increased last year. Unfortunately, the coming years may spell out even more danger for the world’s most common religion. Several factors are leading to this. Michel Varton, the current director of Open Doors, stated that ”The number of vandalized Churches in regions where Christianity is a minority, has highly increased in the past few years”. 

Clashes with Christianity 

In the internet age, information is at everyone’s hands. So, it is becoming more difficult for dictatorships to dumb down the masses. But unfortunately, many countries still use religion as a tool by teaching a twisted, radicalized version of Islam. 

Governments of Muslim-majority countries often see the spread of Christianity as a threat to their power. As a result, they tend to discretely marginalize Christianity through Sharia law. For some of them, Christianity is a symbol of Western imperialism. Thus, they perceive it as a sign of disrespect to their local cultures and customs. 

Some oppressive governments in Asia also see the expansion of Christianity as a threat. This has been a notably growing trend in several parts of Asia with Hindu fanaticism and Buddhist radicalism. Both have taken an aggressive stance towards foreign religions in recent years.  

The Spread of Radical Islam

The vast majority of the incoming immigrants and refugees from the Middle East just want to mind their own businesses and have a chance for a fresh start in the Western world. Unfortunately, a small minority are violent radicals. With a recent uptick in radical Islam in Sweden and other countries, persecution of Christians may increase.  

Moreover, radical Islamic movements have been gaining strength in Asia and Africa. Particularly, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Somalia have seen drastic increases.

An End in Sight?

At this time, it does not appear that the next few years will bring an end to these horrific murders. However, groups like Open Doors and others hope to minimize the casualties and enrich religious freedom. We have only scratched the surface about this, but as the internet thrives, it appears that awareness for Christian persecution may also rise. With this, awareness groups may hope to raise more funds and rally more people to their cause to end intolerance.


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Tulsi Gabbard Is a Hawk in Dove’s Clothing

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Already, the 2020 election cycle is beginning to heat up. After a 2016 rift in the Democratic Party, the political party is seeking to reunite against President Trump. Yet, eight candidates have already declared their own shots at the presidency. One of these candidates is Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard.

A veteran of the Iraq War, she claims to be of the non-interventionist wing of the party. In many ways, she hopes to cater to those who voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016. Gabbard does happen to be like Sanders in many ways, but this only reflects her deceit and double-sidedness.

Is Tulsi Gabbard Really Antiwar?

One of Tulsi Gabbard’s biggest talking points so far is that she opposes wars. In particular, she has criticized continual actions on the part of the United States in Syria and Afghanistan. However, it would be foolish to equate these limited responses with truly opposing the practice on its face. There is a clear difference between opposing a particular war and opposing the very concept of war.

An excellent place to begin searching for Gabbard’s true position is her voting record. But rather than portraying the 37-year-old congresswoman as a dove, it suggests that she is more mixed on the matter. Admittedly, she did oppose two key defense funding bills in 2018. Yet, the same is not true for the bill that would appropriate this funding.

On September 26, 2018, Tulsi Gabbard voted in favor of a key defense appropriations bill that, quite frankly, had some absurd elements. First of all, it appropriated a grand total of $670 billion for the military in 2019. Though she seemed to oppose gargantuan spending levels previously, it appears Gabbard had no problem voting for it the next time it came through.

Moreover, the bill prohibits any funding to be used for the release or transfer of individuals at Guantanamo Bay. Amnesty International has long since called the detention camp “The Gulag of our time“, and the inhumane modes of torture that the base forces on its prisoners are no surprise. Even the United Nations, an organization in no way fervently dedicated to peace, has tried to get the United States to close Guantanamo Bay. Tulsi Gabbard, though, voted for an appropriation bill that would make it much more difficult to remove those detained from the subhuman conditions that the camp does little to hide. Such a move shows blatant disregard for human life, a value generally necessary to truly be antiwar.

A Hawk on Terrorism

In addition, it is worth noting that Gabbard has even admitted to not unilaterally opposing war. Particularly, she proudly supports wars against terrorism. In 2016, she told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that “When it comes to the war against terrorists, I’m a hawk”.

The interesting thing about this statement is that it undermines her very opposition to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria. Without a doubt, there are active terrorist groups in both of those areas. By her own definition, therefore, she logically favors wars in the Middle East that fight terrorism. Yet, these have had disastrous effects. In particular, our actions in Afghanistan led to a surge in Al Qaeda membership. At the time of 9/11, the group only had about 400 members, but at the height of the war, they boasted tens of thousands.

Wars against terrorists, and specifically, the War on Terror, usually lead to the terrorists winning. And considering that the definition of terrorism is violence for political gain, it is unclear just at what point Gabbard’s own military interventions would qualify as acts of terrorism. Being a hawk against terrorists is not an admirable trait.

In Favor of Drone Strikes

Furthermore, Tulsi Gabbard has very clearly stated that she favors the use of drone strikes against military opponents. Admittedly, this is preferable to supporting an all-out ground war, but it is also a far cry from being anti-war. It appears that her concerns more closely are for the lives of exclusively Americans. This position blatantly disregards the lives of the many foreign civilians that American drones kill every year.

In this way, Gabbard appears to more closely mirror the tactics of Presidents Trump and Obama. After all, Obama’s drone strikes have killed many civilians in eight countries. There is absolutely nothing that indicates that Gabbard’s use of drones against “terrorists” (I use the term in quotations because they are the ones defending their homeland, while the American military ravages their cities) would produce a noticeably different result.

All in all, it appears that Tulsi Gabbard is not truly opposed to war. Though she may be slightly less hawkish than some other candidates, this is an easy task; it does not, in any meaningful way, show a real dedication to peace. Do not let her words fool you, and do not expect a sudden policy of peace if she wins the presidency in 2020. Tulsi Gabbard, through her support of wars and drone strikes, is little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.


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Twenty Minutes to Landing, Seven Seconds of Silence

Ryan Lau | United States

In many ways, Dan was unlike those around him. With an incredible intellect, lithe build, and handsome face, the young man of 22 was certain to make it big. Already, he had amassed a small fortune on a number of critically-timed investments, and it showed. An impeccable Ralph Lauren polo framed his narrow shoulders and an exquisite Salvatore Ferragamo belt kept his Vineyard Vines from slipping to the dirt of the aircraft floor.

All around him, commoners, as he so liked to refer to them, bore sweats and faded tees. A faint smell came from the economy cabin, which Dan chose to maintain his riches. Jammed-in crowds of businessmen, families, foreigners, and vacationers packed the plane to its capacity, all yearning to touch down in Los Angeles after a turbulent flight from Montreal.

Suddenly, the seatbelt sign buzzed twice, and the loudspeaker began to crackle. “Attention all passengers: at this point, we will be beginning our initial descent into Los Angeles International Airport with about twenty minutes to landing. Please stow any loose baggage and power down all large electronic devices. Thank you for ch…”

But before the pilot could finish the customary remarks, two gunshots rang through the air from the front of the craft as it started to tumble out of the sky.

Screams of pure terror rang through the craft. Some scared passengers threw themselves to the floor, while others raced to occupy openings in the plane’s rear. One fearful woman even went to the trouble of closing herself into the overhead storage bin.

While yells and frantic attempts at phone calls flooded the plane, the intercom stayed silent. Dan, too petrified to move, momentarily thought himself so lucky for not choosing a first-class seat. He then remembered his predicament with a thought of horror. I’m going to die here, he thought.

Miraculously, or so he believed, the plane soon stabilized, guiding itself back into a standard trajectory. Seven seconds of silence followed. But when a gravelly voice barked commands in an unrecognizable language, the entire aircraft filled with dread.

***

Fadel sat in the cockpit, autopilot switched on, door locked. Prepare for Phase Two, he had just announced. With heightened security, he was shocked by how effortless the operation had been. Not that there were many opportunities, but he had seldom seen this much success in a takeover. In fact, he recalled, it has now been nearly two decades…

Glancing at the floor, he looked at his Liberator. The tiny, 3D printed handgun had proved successful. The pilot and copilot lay strewn on the floor, bleeding profusely from tiny wounds in the backs of their heads. Fadel fleetingly hoped that the two were alive and just unconscious from the weak firearm. But thinking of Phase Two, care for his victims vanished into the air.

Flawed as these Americans are, they sure know how to produce weapons. The thought made him chuckle briefly before remembering his mission. If successful, God himself would praise him. Fadel would be a hero, worshipped in the streets by peasants and elites alike! His heart filled with pride as he shouted some more Persian into the mic. “Almarhalat Alththania!”

Stage Two.

***

Back in the main cabin, tears streamed from Dan’s face like water gushing from a spring drain. For once, he didn’t care if they landed on his designer clothing or caused him to break out. At that moment, he sought but one thing: a phone call with his father.

Dan’s mother had died tragically, years before. His sister Amy and he had severed ties three months prior after a particularly nasty fight. Dan viciously believed the doctors mistreated his mother after her heart attack. But a member of the medical community, Amy defended the doctors’ actions to a T. Her resulting heart failure, she believed, was an incalculable side effect of a generally reliable medication.

As the plane sped through the air faster than Dan’s own thoughts, he forgave his sister in a heartbeat. It was no use, though. Not a device on the plane had cell service, and the internet was suddenly down. As he wept silently, seeking solace from the frantic plane. But out of the corner of his eye, he couldn’t help but notice something.

Two men, both dressed in black, were walking away from the rear. They both had long beards and olive skin. And they both held small white handguns. Though they looked plastic, Dan shuddered at the thought of more weapons, more hijackers on the plane.

As they passed Dan, he could tell that the two were harshly whispering in another language, heading for the front of the craft.

He looked around. The other passengers appeared not to notice, too busy in their own suffering. Those that saw didn’t care. After all, their own stories had ended from the moment the first shot rang.

“Commoners”, he muttered to himself, trembling slightly. His fear of perishing intensified as the two walked to the front of the plane, tearing back the curtain separating economy and first-class and vanishing to the front of the plane.

***

In the cockpit, Fadel heard a knock on the door. tap tap TAP tap TAP. He smiled, opening the compartment for his two compatriots. Gesturing to the now-open seat, he congratulated them on their quick work. One of the men, Bari, took the seat excitedly, guiding the nose of the plane down ever so slightly and reducing the thrust in the same manner.

“Eshrwn daqiqatan ealaa alhubut!” The new pilot looked happy as a saint, but equipped with a falling plane.

Twenty minutes to landing.

***

Dan, horrified by the men, poked the woman next to him and gestured to the front. “Terrorists. It’s 9/11 all over again!”

The woman responded only with a defeated sigh.

Angered, Dan vowed vengeance against the three men in the plane. He crept forward, rummaging around seats as he moved. Enraged but outwardly calm, like a volcano ready to explode, he found a safety pin and a plastic knife. Hardly a gun, he thought, but as he sensed the plane beginning to dip, he had few options.

Creeping forward, he drew back the first-class curtain. Empty. The entire section was a desert, devoid of all life. Bags littered the floor and made his walk more difficult, but for the oasis that followed, it was worth it. Quite literally sitting on a silver platter in the front row was a half-eaten section of prime rib, complete with fork and knife. Dan hurriedly but silently pocketed both and prepared himself for what may lie beyond the cabin door.

***

As Bari guided the plane lower, the Los Angeles skyline broke into view, buildings racing to the clouds. Fadel and the third man, Khan, stood watch, their Liberators focused squarely on the door in front of them.

Despite their readiness, they were not expecting the youthful American to barge through the door with a weapon of his own. He caught them off guard, slashing at Khan, who howled in pain as the steak knife left a shallow gash in his thigh.

***

Wresting the door open, Dan pretty much knew what to expect. Yet, that didn’t make an ounce of it any easier on the young man. A brown belt in karate, he had some defense training, but not to take on three armed men, one of whom was his only chance of survival.

Two of them, however, were unlikely to be flying the craft, and at least one must not. So charging in, he was slightly relieved when he caught the bearded guard by surprise. With an expert slash to the leg, he fell to his knees.

Bang. White-hot pain raced through Dan’s knife hand as he dropped the weapon. Stars ran through his eyes as he fought back the pain. The guard, though, aimed a swift kick to Dan’s ribs and he fell beside the pilots, conscious but unmoving.

***

Stupid American boy! Fadel cursed silently after the shot rang out. Though momentarily incapacitated, the grimacing heap on the floor was at no risk of dying. A blow from a Liberator to the hand was painful, but not life-threatening.

Khan, regaining his composure, looked with contempt at the young man. “Bism allah! Ymknna ‘na nufasir.”

In the name of God, we can explain.

***

As the bearded guard spoke to Dan, he panicked suddenly, fearing a second, more lethal shot would be soon to follow its predecessor. But out of the corner of his eye, he saw a compact backpack laying within reach.

A parachute. His escape.

Mustering all of the strength he could, which surprisingly was a lot, he snatched the pack off the ground and bolted to his feet. Amidst rampant shouting in the foreign language, which he thought must be Arabic, he hauled himself through the door, slamming it shut while ignoring the throbbing pain in his injured hand.

Making his way back through and drawing the first-class curtain, he turned around. Amazingly, none of the hijackers had followed him through the door. Perhaps, as long as he steered clear of the cockpit, he was no threat to them. Or maybe they were tending to the bearded guard’s injury. Dan didn’t really care, making his way to an exit row for his escape.

Two rows away, an elderly woman, caked with dirt and raggy clothes touched his shoulder lightly. He turned, fist extended, ready to punch his assailant. Seeing the woman, however, he lowered them, apologizing with a pained facial expression. The woman smiled gently.

“Is that there a chute? Could you hap’n to allow my granddaughter here to have it? She’s ne’er been in a plane before and has got so much in’a young body, ya know.” The woman’s eyes were beautiful pools of gray, her smile laced with years of suffering. Behind her, the little girl tugged on her blouse, a near lookalike of her grandmother.

Dan, though, did not afford either of the two a passing glance. Upon realizing there was no threat, he swung open the exit hatch, filling the cabin with a roaring wind. As he departed the aircraft, flight attendants rushed to close the window, narrowly avoiding being sucked out themselves. The girl clung tighter to her grandmother’s shirt. Silent tears streamed down their faces as the door slammed back into place.

As this occurred, Dan breathed a sigh of relief, feeling little guilt for the strangers. After all, he had taken a bullet for that parachute. Smiling for the first time in what felt like weeks, the young man began his controlled descent to Earth.

***

Bari had his sights set on the city. After the skirmish with the American boy, he wanted to complete his mission as soon as possible, avoiding any other…complications that may ensue. He threw a stack of papers that had blown in his view aside. On top laid a confidential email from the slumped pilot to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Director Hoffman:

Message received. target set. U.S. bank tower will be compromised.
This operation is weather dependent, though I imagine results by 07:00.
Once I have safely exited the craft, I will communicate my location.
Three Arabs will be on board. They are to be responsible for our attack.

-PIC Brandon Michaels

Casting it aside, Bari smiled, knowing he had done a good deed to his own name, to God, and to the world. Landing with ease in Los Angeles, his heart warmed with the businessmen and families and foreigners and vacationers aboard who would all live to see another day.

***

Falling through the sky, Dan smiled. His escape, though difficult, had been quite rewarding. Reaching a comfortable altitude, he yanked sharply on the parachute. It extended suddenly, but his speed did not decrease. Shaking the straps, he frantically tried to get the chute to extend. But looking up, his heart fell faster than the rest of him.

On the inside of the parachute, a giant image of the bearded guard stared down. Where his mouth should have been, however, was a massive, gaping hole. Dan had a mere seven seconds of silence remaining.


Other creative works by Ryan you might enjoy:

Inevitable Death at the Hands of the Former: A story of paranoia and insanity

The Last Thoughts of Delavan, Killed by an American Bomb: A story of loss and sorrow

71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

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Abolish The TSA

By Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury

“Something has to be done. Everybody’s fed up. The people are fed up, the pilots are fed up and I’m fed up. What we are accepting at the airport is symbolic of us not standing up and saying enough is enough!”Ron Paul

In the months that followed 9/11, the American people were scared, confused and angry. The ruling class was not. They had been waiting for that very moment when the people would be dependent and weak. For the anti-imperialist majority, it was hard enough to wrap their heads around why people from thousands of miles of way held such a crowning vendetta against The United States. Who the hell was so mad at us and what had we done to make it so? After all, it wasn’t the mechanic or farmer or dentist or professor who had instructed the century-long conquest of democratic interventionism behind the towering force of a nuclear arsenal. With the people’s psyche at their most fragile, The United States government took control of the narrative and labeled what would be the new enemy of the 21st century: anti-western terrorists who were willing to do anything to watch America burn into smoldering ash.

Nevermind the century of global policing carried out by the American Empire that saw us play another man’s terrorist in stolen lands and throughout sovereign nations. Nevermind the belligerent, hawkish interventionism that had sewn seeds of hatred and rebellion in peoples far and wide and of no relation to the engineer or arborist that both call Pennsylvania home. Nevermind the pervasive wars in the countries of Kuwait and Iraq and Iran and Syria and Libya and Afghanistan. Nevermind any of it. Americans let themselves be hypnotized into believing that brown Muslims wanted to kill us because of our freedoms and George Bush was the bald eagle messiah to lead the whole, spiteful, deviled world into a bright new dawn of democracy and peace.

Yeah, right.

To save us from these threats of a World War, the Bush administration pushed aside the fundamental tenets of our constitution as The Patriot Act, the NSA, and the TSA were all hastily rushed through Congress in what is now clearly the single greatest seizure of federal power since the end of WWII. In one broad swoop, the branches that had anchored our patently slow-moving enterprise were unceremoniously cut and the new drivers of the military war machine set ablaze. Under the guise of warding off some great, undefinable terror that suddenly existed today where it had not the week before, the American empire began its swift attack on the natural and unalienable rights of Americans. Over 60,000 federal TSA jobs were created, the largest federal mobilization since 1946, and a whole new opportunity for invasive, authoritarian access to the lives of peaceful American citizens was afoot. In the years since 9/11, we have come to accept this government’s preening with an eye roll and a shrug. What power does any of us have in the fight against it? And don’t we all have somewhere to be anyways? Better to let the agent get on with their prodding and questioning so we can make the puddle jumper to Cheyenne to see the parents over the weekend.

Which brings us to the big news that has been kept relatively quiet in mainstream media. Earlier this week, The Boston Globe blew the top off “Quiet Skies,” a secretive TSA program that has tracked over 5,000 US citizens on domestic flights throughout the past year. “Dozens of air marshals,” told The Globe that they were instructed to report in minute detail on the behaviors of passengers exhibiting peculiar patterns. These patterns included routine sleep, bathroom, and eating habits that would make potentially any passenger in The United States a target of surveillance. Many of the marshals have suggested that “Quiet Skies” netted zero serious targets and was a complete waste of time and resources.

The late Gore Vidal was one of the sharpest critics of the Bush-era policies that gave expansive power to the surveillance systems of centralized intelligence. His reign was only the beginning of a vast reduction of Americans civil liberties and constitutional rights that have been sustained through Obama and now Trump’s presidencies.. Railing against what he saw as an opportunistic and parasitic state, Vidal often cried afoul of a national security apparatus that ran wild on the psycho fanatical nightmares of a ginned up public. When Congress passed the meticulously crafted 350+ page Patriot Act in the early months after 9/11, Vidal was one of the loudest voices to suggest that this new, abrasive surveillance state had been waiting in the wings for an event of this scale.

We were entering a bit of a depression around 9/11, so if it was Osama’s timing, it was very clever. They hit us when we were really quite off balance. These Presidents, as they get worse and worse – proving that Darwin was wrong – the wars get more surreal. We blow up Afghanistan when all of our enemies who struck at us in the airplanes that day were Saudi Arabians. They weren’t Afghans. And the Afghans were rather hurt that we were blowing up all their cities when we should’ve been taking out the Saudi Royal Family. We hit the wrong people.

The sinister side is the speed with which Clinton, after Oklahoma City, was ready with an anti-terrorist act. The speed of light and it had the most venemous dialogue. They decided, immediately, that many of our freedoms would be diminished starting with the 4th amendment. Now we have the Patriot Act, which was passed after the infamous September 11th. Congress passed it and as is their wont, didn’t read it. That was a terrific piece of legislation remeniscent of one of my favorite emperors: Tiberius.

Tiberius, when he became emperor, the Senate sent him some legislation saying that they would accept, in advance, sight unseen, any legislation that he wanted to send up to the Senate. He sent back a message and said “you’ve lost your senses. Suppose the Emperor has gone mad. Suppose the Emperor is a raging enemy of Rome and you didn’t know it. You can’t do that in advance.”

And they sent it back to him again “anything Glorius Ceaser, that you send us, we will endorse.” And he said, and I feel myself wanting to repeat Tiberius’ words: “how eager they are to be slaves.”

In the era of aviation before the towers fell, never would Americans have suspected that armed, plain-clothed officers were following them or fellow passengers onto flights because a person was deemed to have “taken a long nap” while awaiting their departure. Now, American citizens are forced to bitterly swallow intrusive searches of their person and property for the right to board a routine flight from St. Louis to Trenton. What’s worse, they are being systematically reduced to a state of intellectual paralysis where they can no longer remember a time where they were without the prying eyes of big government nosing through their suitcases and listening in on their bedrooms. “What can you do?” we think.

The very name ‘Transportation Security Administration’ strikes an anxious chord with most Americans. If there is an institution that expressly ‘secures’ transport, then there must be also an inherent suggestion that there is some great unknowable risk to our personal security at any given airport in any given city from Rochester to Sacramento. Is this true? Is flying that dangerous of an affair? Over two million passengers fly across the United States on any given day. Are the TSA really protecting us or are humans naturally peaceful and without an intent to harm? Is there a proven need for government agents to follow thousands of unsuspecting passengers as they travel freely around the country? Do we now hold such little trust in the decency of each other that we are happy to let federal officials encroach on our civil liberties for the perseverance of such an undefinable ‘security’? We can see clearly from research and media coverage that the TSA’s success rate in the past decade is a hotly contested issue with many suggesting overreaches without due cause or process.

In 2015 alone the TSA “missed 95 percent of weapons and explosives in security tests.” Even more ironic is a report after 9/11 that suggested 500 more people were killed a year as a result of automobile accidents after plane passengers opted to drive instead of the long waits and intrusive searches at the gates. This all signals what we already know to be true – the TSA does little in terms of protecting passengers from a terrorist attack. In fact, the more prodding you do of the TSA the more it appears that it’s nothing more than a carte blanch, federal cattle call that acts as an eye in the sky operation to survey and collect data on American citizens who have done nothing to warrant suspicion or investigation.

In our hearts and minds, we know as American citizens that these warrantless actions by the TSA are completely unjustifiable. We can still remember a time before the ever-present threat of a lurking, unspeakable terror threat. Programs like the TSA are simply another notch on the belt of the all-powerful state authority apparatus that cannot and will not be challenged. In the houses of Congress, where days should be filled with the thundering voices of vexed patriots, instead, career politicians smile and nod in happy cooperation. When it comes to the big stuff, they’re all on the same team, each being bought long before the first day they arrived. Their vote merely another casino chip.

As with many federal programs, before long the whole charade just becomes so mundanely every day that an entire generation of younger Americans grow up in the malaise and accept it as normal. The whole lot are indoctrinated through sheer, dramatic, routine, coaxing habit. Today, it’s commonplace to accept the ridiculous assertion that a bottle of shampoo could be a credible national security threat. It’s considered normal to allow another human the right to touch your body and investigate your property in the name of some worthwhile freedom on the other side. To live in America, the great land of liberty and happiness. No one dares step out of line. There’s family to be seen in Dallas.

Institutions should be judged on a basis of their merits. Does the TSA keep us safer? Is the TSA necessary? Or does it cut at the heart of our fundamental rights of travel and speech as Americans? Nobody trusts the TSA. And why should they? Every time you go through their surveillance systems you are made a target within your own homeland and that’s just the way it is.

Or is it? At what point does the American public justifiably ask for clarity on the subject at hand. How long will we remain criminals in our own country for crimes we have not committed? How long will we accept culpability for the violence of a rogue group of militant terrorists 17 years ago? How many of our civil rights must be trashed so that the state can keep us secure? How long before we send a clear and cutting message to Congress that they do not own the identity and soul of the American populace?


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The TSA: A Threat to Transportation Security

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Earlier this morning, I had the great privilege of travelling through the airport. To my mild surprise, the TSA had granted me pre-check status. Walking through the security line, I did not need to remove my shoes and laptop, among other personal items. Ultimately, the line was not much faster, though this was simply due to the fact that there were not many people in either line. However, I was still through before the rest of my party, so I sat to wait for them.

Saving Americans From… The Injured?

As I sat, facing the security line, I noticed a young woman sitting in a cast near its exit. She appeared to walk with a slight limp, and clearly was in discomfort. I brushed it off as injury pain, or flight anxiety, but then, noticed the TSA agent approaching her. From a distance, I saw his face, stone-blank with apathy, as he forced her, hobbling on one foot, to remove the cast. He then met her grimace of pain with the same lack of emotion. Following this, and without assisting her, he guided the woman away from the line for a full-body pat-down.

Ultimately, the agent returned her to line shortly before the rest of my party got through. All in all, the process may have taken 5-10 minutes. Now, some may say that this is a small price to pay for American safety. But, just how safe are we?

A Not-So-Grand Success Story

Since the TSA’s conception in November of 2001, it has been profiling, flagging, and grabbing individuals in ways that they do not necessarily consent to. These often extend far beyond the incident of this morning. Without a doubt, there are some clear downfalls to the agency. Despite this, many defend it on the grounds of keeping America safe. The thing is, though, that America is not any safer. With all of the flagging and grabbing, the agency has caught a grand total of zero terrorists.

Throughout 2015, the Department of Homeland Security performed undercover tests on the TSA. Across, the country, they sent 70 different agents through security checkpoints carrying fake weapons. Of the 70, the local TSA agents successfully stopped three. Thus, the other 67 made it through the lines without any problems. With malicious intent, of course, they would have been a serious threat to security. How can an agency be imperative to national security when it cannot secure even five percent of simulated threats?

The TSA, in addition to their normal security procedure, also has a program known as SPOT. The program attempts to identify suspicious behavior in passengers, but again, simply fails. The Government Accountability Office looked into the effectiveness of this plan. Once more, the agency was entirely unsuccessful. The study found that of the many that the TSA flags, they only arrest 0.6 percent – yes, a less than 1% guilt rate. And of those arrested? The same study shows police did not designate a single one of them as related to terrorism.

Why Keep the TSA?

So, why must such a blatant failure exist? It appears that the agency has no functional purpose for the American people. Of course, it is possible that the illusion of safety may make some travelers feel more secure, and that isn’t a bad thing. However, this is no excuse to flag and grope American people. It further is not an excuse to take money out of Americans’ wallets to fund the agents’ useless work.

There are means of pacifying a nervous traveler that require less force, such as the private security that existed prior to the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. Yes, these measures were not able to prevent those attacks. But it appears, neither is the TSA, especially considering the hijackers did not use a gun or knife, but box cutters. Though imperfect, private security did not entail the groping and flagging of innocent citizens. It also cut down on security waits, as each airline had a separate line.

The benefits of private security are evident, as are the pitfalls of the TSA. But, there’s one thing left to fuel it, the same fuel that the rest of the government uses.

Oh That’s Right. It’s Profitable.

Without a doubt, the TSA is able to obtain massive amounts of money from American travelers. Let’s look at some numbers. In 2017, 48% of Americans reported that they had flown at least once in the past year. 88% had flown in their lifetime. This means that of the 325.7 million people then in the United States, roughly 156 million of them flew in an airplane in 2017, and 287 million had done so in their lifetime. These numbers are only increasing every year.

A TSA pre-check currently costs $85 for a five year membership. A survey in 2017 found about one quarter of American flyers use the program “all the time”. So, if that is the case, then in 2017, the TSA processed 39 million pre-check passengers. Each spent $19 a year on the service, for $85 over five years, making a grand total of $663 million in annual TSA pre-check revenue.

This is no small sum of money. But by the agency’s own standards, these people are unsafe. They leave their shoes on, and leave their computers in their bags. Yet, the TSA permits this to happen, provided they pay a fee. So, is this an admission that the regular screening process is unnecessary, if anyone can dodge it by fueling the government a little bit more?

In a free society, individuals do not have to pay the government to not be flagged and groped. Thus, the TSA is a clear and direct threat to American freedom. Quite ironically, the agency for security only makes us less safe.


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