illegal searches conducted by the TSA

The terrorists have already won.

That’s right, they instigated a sense of national fear, duped politicians into passing the unnecessary PATRIOT Act, and have managed to keep Americans scared enough that their leaders (Bush, Rumsfeld, ex-AG Ashcroft, et al.) were able to break down existing protections of personal privacy under the more vague than ever notion of national security. That, and the already opaque US Government has found itself in a position where it can deny accountability for its actions, claim that divulging information would be a threat to national security, and call anyone who challenges them unpatriotic. Really, 9/11 was a gift to the intelligence agencies of the US.

John Barlow has himself experienced (alternate link for those who live in places where TypePad is banned) the extent to which intelligence and security agencies feel they can take liberties. During one of his travels, he was subject to an illegal search of his possessions (the TSA is legally authorised only to search for threats to national security, nothing else), was thrown in jail, and was subject to a body cavity search. I recommend you read his story, which is quite disheartening (to say the least).

When federal agencies feel empowered to take these kind of actions, I wonder what kind of privacy Americans expect to have going into the 21st century? Right now, it’s looking like most Americans are willing to settle for little or no privacy, as long as ‘national security’ (whatever this means) is not breached. By the time people realise what they’re giving up it will be too late.

If the terrorists have succeeded in creating an environment in which its become acceptable to erode personal privacy and relax legal safeguards against government interference in personal life, then I contend that they’ve already won.