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Archive for November 2nd, 2012

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.  –  H.L. Mencken

As I’ve pointed out many, many times before, governments look for any excuse they can find to increase their powers and reach, and once those powers are assumed not only are they never renounced, but also never limited only to the stated purpose.  A perfect example of this is the “War on Terror”; the special powers granted by the PATRIOT Act were supposed to be used only for fighting “terrorism”, but as of October 2011 had been used only 15 times for that purpose, 122 times for fraud and a staggering 1618 times for drugs.  Similarly, though the stated purpose of the TSA’s security theater is to fight terrorism, its actual purpose is to condition Americans “to submit to any indignity inflicted by an ‘authority’, no matter how invasive and arbitrary”; it’s been so wildly successful in that mission, the government has been itching to expand its reach from airports to other means of public transportation.  Up to now, railway officials had successfully resisted the imposition of police state checkpoints on train stations, but the government has now succeeded in securing Amtrak’s cooperation by switching the excuse from one which is rapidly declining in popularity (terrorism) to a new and more popular one.  This article by Wendy McElroy explains exactly what that new excuse is, but I’ll bet you’ve already guessed:

According to Homeland Security Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has forged “a new partnership” with “the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Amtrak to battle the trafficking of humans.”  DHS will train “over 8,000 frontline transportation employees and Amtrak Police Department officers” on how to recognize and report trafficking indicators and suspected traffickers…[these] employees will overtly or covertly examine passengers for the validity of their identification, their level of stress, how they interact, and their conversations.  It is so necessary to treat Amtrak customers as criminal suspects because, according to HS Today, an “estimated 100,000 children are trafficked in the sex trade in the United States each year,” with the average age being 11 to 14, and some being as young as 9.  This means that passengers — and especially men — traveling with children will be subject to enhanced scrutiny.  Perhaps the trained employees will engage children in conversation or demand a statement of their relationship status with the accompanying adults.

I probably don’t need to remind anyone that this supposed “estimate” is roughly six times the total number of underage prostitutes in the entire country at any given time, and that if the “average” underage whore were really 13 that would mean there were tens of thousands of toddler tarts out there that nobody has ever seen the faintest evidence of.

The total police state that operates at airports is spreading to train stations — and beyond.  HS Today states that the Department of Transportation “is currently training its more than 55,000 employees to identify and report human trafficking.”  Even traveling in a car does not exempt people from being treated as criminal suspects.  Last year, Tennessee became the first state to partner with DHS to conduct an exercise in which trucks were randomly inspected, complete with drug- and bomb-sniffing dogs…In theory, people may still be free to exercise their constitutional right against unreasonable searches and refuse to comply.  In practice, as happens at airports, those who resist will almost certainly be denied the ability to travel and will perhaps be detained for questioning by the police…

So now everyone is assumed to be a terrorist, a drug dealer and a pimp unless he can prove otherwise.  It’s for the children!  But McElroy has something to say about that as well:

…According to 2010 census data, the number of children…in the United States was 74.2 million…Assuming an even distribution within the 18 age groups from 0–17, there would be roughly 4.12 million children in each group.  Accepting the DHS claim that the youngest child trafficked was nine years old — and, so, eliminating younger groups — there would be 37 million vulnerable children.  If 100,000 children are trafficked each year, then 1 in every 370 children was a sex-trade victim in 2010.  How many people personally know of a child who has been trafficked?  How many are acquainted with anyone who personally knows of a trafficked child?

Perhaps the claim includes children who are “imported” en masse from other countries.  The 2010 DHS pamphlet entitled “Human Trafficking Indicators” lists its “Anti-Trafficking Successes” (rescued victims), all of whom are foreign-born…Only 85 rescued victims are listed, and the descriptions are anonymous, which precludes verification.  Of those listed, 21 are clearly identified as children, 20 of whom were forced to work in hair-braiding salons, while 1 was prostituted.  An additional 15 “women and girls” were reported forced into sex work.  Even generously assuming that 13 of the 15 “women and girls” were girls, the total of foreign children rescued from sex work was 14…if DHS had examples of more massive raids on child sex dens, I presume they would present them.  In short, the statistic of 100,000 children a year seems wildly implausible, unless you expand the definition of trafficking.  The DHS…does precisely that; it expands the definition to include every minor involved in commercial sex as “a victim of human trafficking, even without force, fraud or coercion.”  Thus, the 8,000 Amtrak employees will have reason to scrutinize children and teenagers even if they are clearly not forced to be with the adults accompanying them…

In other words American teenagers, who are already subject to twice as many restrictions as incarcerated felons, can now look forward to even more restrictions, which will almost certainly include “status checks” (i.e. unwarranted stops without probable cause) once this program expands to the highways as planned.  And if you’re an attractive and youthful-looking woman below 30, that will probably include you as well on the grounds that you “look like you might be underage”.  For your own good, of course.  Nor will it stop there:

…The partnership between DHS and Amtrak allows the government one more avenue of surveillance; it chips one more bit of freedom away from the average person, who is just trying to make it through the day.  In the future, when a man boards a train in the company of a minor or a woman, or when he merely looks suspicious, he may be asked where he is going, for how long, and why.  What is his relationship to the companion?  What is his profession?  The companion may be asked whether she feels free to step away from the other passenger.  She may be questioned separately and her story compared to the other passenger’s.  And heaven help anyone who looks sad, enraged, or stressed out…

Once when my husband and I were travelling through Kentucky, I became violently carsick due to the twisting roads; my husband had to stop the car so I could sit down on the grass in the cold air and attempt to get my head to stop spinning.  While I was so engaged, a cop stopped and even after my husband told him I was sick he demanded (not asked, mind you, demanded) that I walk off with him to a distance to talk where my husband couldn’t hear.  I told him to go to Hell (yes, I really said that; I get very irrational when I’m motion-sick) and that if he touched me I would throw up all over him.  Even so, he still hovered until I literally screamed for him to leave me alone, at which point he seemed to get the hint.  This was in 2003, before “trafficking” hysteria had become popular; I presume he thought my husband was beating me in broad daylight on the side of a highway.  But it’s an example of what might be in store for every couple in the next few years, no matter what means of transportation they use, if either of them does anything which might conceivably attract the attention of any armed busybody in the vicinity.

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