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All US Border Crossings Now Require A 'Terrorist Risk Profile' 710

Posted by Zonk
from the just-wow dept.
conlaw writes with a somewhat intimidating Washington Post article. "The federal government disclosed details yesterday of a border-security program to screen all people who enter and leave the United States, create a terrorism risk profile of each individual and retain that information for up to 40 years ... The risk assessment is created by analysts at the National Targeting Center, a high-tech facility opened in November 2001 and now run by Customs and Border Protection. In a round-the-clock operation, targeters match names against terrorist watch lists and a host of other data to determine whether a person's background or behavior indicates a terrorist threat, a risk to border security or the potential for illegal activity. They also assess cargo."
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All US Border Crossings Now Require A 'Terrorist Risk Profile'

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  • So (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:38PM (#21555969)
    Obviously this only applies to people crossing the border LEGALLY. People who for whatever reason cross the border illegally will never get a "terrorist profile". Well done, America, well done. Who advised you on this, the RIAA/MPAA/copy protection industry?
    • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:55PM (#21556091) Homepage
      You are aware that all the terrorists on the 9/11 attacks had valid visas right? And if there was an article about stopping illegal border crossings someone would quickly point out that fact. While I think the US is going overboard, it's fairly clear that:

      1. What you don't know you can't assess
      2. If nobody collects data there's no data to analyze
      3. Unless it's analyzed you can't connect the dots

      Now, this does not mean you have to build a new Berlin wall, resurrect the inquisition and make KGB/Gestapo's archives look like child's play. But quite frankly it's not entirely outragous if a country would like to regulate who's permitted to enter the country. Making everyone go through the door if the door is wide open and unattended wouldn't help anything.
      • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

        by omeomi (675045) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:21PM (#21556263) Homepage
        You are aware that all the terrorists on the 9/11 attacks had valid visas right?

        I'm pretty sure they didn't enter via the Canadian or Mexican borders...a fact which nobody ever seems to mention when discussing the security of our borders...
        • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Bartab (233395) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:48PM (#21556767)
          I'm pretty sure they didn't enter via the Canadian or Mexican borders...a fact which nobody ever seems to mention when discussing the security of our borders...

          A completely irrelevant distinction. Our "borders" are the areas you arrive in the country at. Ellis Island was once our "border". LAX is our "border".
        • Re:So (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2007 @12:31AM (#21557009)
          "Border security" is about keeping poor Spanish-speaking Mexicans out of the white communities. You can try to reason and rationalize it until you're blue in the face, but this is the impetus behind the immigration and "border security" debates going on right now. Terrorism is merely a convenient PR excuse.

          If you think this post is a troll, guess again. Try going and talking to the people who feel most strongly about border security, and probe deeply about the reasons for it. They pretty quickly forget about the idea of terrorism, and start talking about jobs, communities, culture, language differences, and so forth. (This is why there is no fence on the North side, and no serious discussion of building one.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by garcia (6573)
        Now, this does not mean you have to build a new Berlin wall, resurrect the inquisition and make KGB/Gestapo's archives look like child's play.

        Of course not, that would be counterproductive to the goals of the administration that's pushing for all of this. People of today equate physical barriers to the Cold War and that's exactly what this administration doesn't want -- transparency about what's going on. What they would much prefer, is a veil of secrecy that is as impenetrable as the walls of years passe
      • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CptNerd (455084) <adiseker@lexonia.net> on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:07AM (#21557213) Homepage
        Actually, they didn't all have valid visas, some had expired. Others bought ID at the 7-11 in Falls Church down near Seven Corners shopping center. Bought from the same kind folks that sell fake IDs to illegal aliens.

        And our current "security theater" is as absurd as the "tollbooth scene" in "Blazing Saddles".

      • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Monday December 03, 2007 @02:04AM (#21557553)
        You are aware that all the terrorists on the 9/11 attacks had valid visas right? And if there was an article about stopping illegal border crossings someone would quickly point out that fact. While I think the US is going overboard, it's fairly clear that:

        There was a book written a while back (of which I wish I could remember the name) where the author basically argued that anti-terrorism measures were basically useless because any measure to mitigate threat we put in, they would think some way around it.

        Case in point - probably some of the earliest hijackings the terrorist simply carried a bomb or a gun on board.

        Want to fix terrorism - maybe we should fix or foreign policy. These people honestly believe they are fighting for a cause and their freedom.
    • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:04PM (#21556145)
      Is there really a danger of a Mexican terrorist? The only terrorists in my lifetime in the US have all been here legally. A couple of white Americans and some Middle Eastern fellows, IIRC. I suppose a Mexican could be behind the Anthrax scare, but I'll take that bet and give you odds.
    • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hax0r_this (1073148) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:09PM (#21556173)
      No, it was the public. The public is scared of terrorists, so those in power have responded.

      The problem, of course, is those in power are democrats and republicans. The republicans aren't going to do anything to tighten down the border because they want cheap labor. The democrats aren't going to do it because they need the hispanic vote.

      Without a tightened down border the most they can do about terrorism is attack it elsewhere. So they have devised a simple strategy:

      1. Appear to be attacking terrorism elsewhere (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc)

      2. Appear to be securing the country here (terrorist watch lists, terrorist risk profiles, etc)

      As usual, its about power, and as usual the two parties are in collusion to maintain control.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:38PM (#21555973)
    Good job, slashdot.

    Also, one would presume there is SOME level of checking at the borders, else there isn't really any need for borders or the concept of a nation-state, is there?
    • by Elyscape (882517) <elyscape AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:42PM (#21555997) Homepage
      This was posted by the Washington, er, Post on November 3, 2006. Whoops.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jamstar7 (694492)
        It must have just gotten declassified.

        Fear not, Citizen, our beloved government will rectify this by reclassifying it momentarily.

      • Considering this is a year old (feel ashamed that I overlooked the date when I read the article), I apologize for overreacting. Age or no age, I'm still not happy about this policy, but the date of the article does certainly take some of the sting out. I don't buy into the whole idea of editors trolling, so I'm just going to attribute this to a mistake. I wish I could tone my earlier comment down, but I can't. I apologize and I hope Zonk feels sorry, too considering he also postedthis [slashdot.org].

        However, just as an
  • Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:40PM (#21555983) Homepage
    In a round-the-clock operation, targeters match names against terrorist watch lists and a host of other data to determine whether a person's background or behavior indicates a terrorist threat, a risk to border security or the potential for illegal activity.

    So what they're saying is that they are going to use a high-tech facility to match names to a list of people known to cause false positives and is based on poor information at best so that a list of names can be created for the next half century for the government to track the travel habits of its citizens.

    Now, the vast majority of people coming in and out of this country are legitimate and yet our freedoms are being restricted for a handful of people worldwide that would most likely not appear on that list as there are new "freedom haters" popping up every second -- especially when news, like this, keep coming to light.

    I'm ashamed that my future tax dollars and my children's future tax contributions will be going to pay for this fucking horseshit and no one is doing anything to stop it. Hey, politicians listen up... Want my vote? Put a fucking stop to this waste of time, energy and money. Thanks.
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:42PM (#21555993)
      Want my vote?

            The problem is there is no one else to give your vote to anymore. It's all the same bullshit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        The primaries haven't even started yet. And there is a certain candidate from Ohio [dennis4president.com] that may try to roll it back. He is the ONLY candidate to have voted against the Patriot Act. In theory there's still hope. In practice? Well, that's different. Most people will vote to keep things the way they are out of fear, greed, or some other self interest. Here's hoping for an epiphany.

        Where's the damn reset button?
      • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:34PM (#21556345)
        That's true for the most part, but some of it is that you adopt that defeatist attitude, and you basically let them stay in power.

        In the 2008 Presidential election, there are a few candidates who are mostly sane: Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel. Most people seem to actually prefer these rather than the lunatics promoted by mainstream media -- but what answer do people give whenever you ask them about it? "I don't want to waste my vote on someone with no chance of winning."

        Well, of course, idiots. If you don't vote for them, then they can't get elected.
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by caitsith01 (606117) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:52PM (#21556071) Journal
      Now, the vast majority of people coming in and out of this country are legitimate and yet our freedoms are being restricted for a handful of people worldwide that would most likely not appear on that list as there are new "freedom haters" popping up every second -- especially when news, like this, keep coming to light.

      I have come to the conclusion that the current plan is to make visiting the US such a privacy-invading, presumption-of-innocence-reversing, bureaucratic ordeal that the number of legitimate visitors gradually diminishes towards zero. At that point it will be safe to assume that anyone who actually wants to come to the country despite all of the above is a freedom hater with murder on his/her mind, and should be 'processed' accordingly.

      Seriously though, to a non-American there is such a phenomenal... arrogance to all of this. It's not quite the right word. But there's a presumption that the US is fabulous and sacred and utterly superior and different to all other nations, and that people will accept whatever probing and scanning and recording Washington decides to impose simply for the honour and privilege of visiting.

      It might be the case now, but let's see how things stand in 20-30 years.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thirdrock68 (538466)
        I have come to the conclusion that the current plan is to make visiting the US such a privacy-invading, presumption-of-innocence-reversing, bureaucratic ordeal that the number of legitimate visitors gradually diminishes towards zero. I must disagree. The US Government does not give a flying fuck about terrorism. No, the USG is concerned about tax evasion and drug importation. This is not a plan to annoy 'foreigners', this is a plan to watch citizens who have the gall to leave the glorious and wonderful Uni
      • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday December 03, 2007 @12:23AM (#21556959)

        It might be the case now, but let's see how things stand in 20-30 years.

        Oh, I think if you ask around, you'll find a great many non-US citizens don't take the view you described even now. I, for one, have actively refused to travel to the United States simply because I object to the government's treatment of foreigners as second-class humans, not deserving of the same basic rights and respect as a US citizen, starting with the whole fingerprinting and photography thing the moment you arrive. Welcome to the United States, suspect #1,075,375!

        It's interesting how often on Slashdot we get some discussion going on about infringement of privacy or the like, and a load of US citizens pipe up with how it's an infringement of their Constitutional rights. Screwing over the foreigners is apparently OK, because they don't have any rights under the US Constitution. The rest of the civilised world calls them human rights, and extends them to everyone; draw your own conclusions about how US policy looks to the rest of the civilised world.

        • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Informative)

          by CoolMoDee (683437) on Monday December 03, 2007 @02:04AM (#21557559) Homepage Journal
          You should also mark Japan off your list of places to go too - as of last month all foreigners (except a select few permanent residents I believe) now get finger printed upon arrival. In Japan's case it is not wanting terrorists (of course) but also making it much more difficult to make get in with fake paperwork. More than once anyways.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hax0r_this (1073148)

        But there's a presumption that the US is fabulous and sacred and utterly superior and different to all other nations, and that people will accept whatever probing and scanning and recording Washington decides to impose simply for the honour and privilege of visiting.

        No offense intended, but it seems similarly arrogant to assume that for some reason the US should care whether or not you visit. Except insofar as we can take your money while you're here.

        No, I think you have most likely been given that impression by the media wherever you live. American's are not "arrogant" as you describe them, it is simply that a tremendous portion of our population is mind-blowingly self absorbed. All day long my roommate watches these football (American football I should say) games

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Hey, politicians listen up... Want my vote? Put a fucking stop to this waste of time, energy and money. Thanks.

      They don't want your vote, they want the votes of the ignorant masses that think knee-jerk idiocy like this will actually achieve something, because there's more of them than there are of you.

      Your (and our) only option is to educate people, tell the general public what's going on, because the longer the masses stay ignorant, the longer the politicians will keep getting away with things like
      • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by garcia (6573) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:58PM (#21556105) Homepage
        Your (and our) only option is to educate people, tell the general public what's going on, because the longer the masses stay ignorant, the longer the politicians will keep getting away with things like this, because - as sad as this sounds - people will genuinely think this is a good idea.

        The douchebag politicians have coerced the public into believing that people, like us, who are trying to educate them on the reality they have created are nothing more than crackpot terrorist sympathizers who belong disappeared and tucked away from the prying eyes of any oversight groups and proper legal advice.

        Someone needs to shut down TV networks so that the reality TV drugs for the masses end and the riots against the mind-numbing political machine can commence.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)

      Hey, politicians listen up... Want my vote? Put a fucking stop to this waste of time, energy and money. Thanks.

      I think you're confusing being right with being in majority. I think that's why everyone has a little mini-dictator inside them that says "If only I could decide, I would..." not seeing all the issues where we'd probably be wrong. But sometimes, just sometimes you can swear you'd at least do less things wrong. Unfortunately, so do many who should not be put in a position of power even if hell froze over.

  • ...Well. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Elyscape (882517) <elyscape AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:40PM (#21555985) Homepage
    I was trying to think up some kind of response to this but, honestly, it's so infuriating and, more importantly, so stupid that I simply can't.
  • Great plan... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CrAlt (3208) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:41PM (#21555987) Homepage Journal
    They will keep records of the fact that some collage kids took a trip up to Montreal to go drinking for 40 years... But they will do nothing about the drug smugglers and millions of illegals pouring over the southern boarders.
    If some terrorist wants to do harm here he isnt going to give a crap that he is being logged in some database. Heck he will just cross over from mexico with out being checked at all.
  • Delusional (Score:5, Insightful)

    by explosivejared (1186049) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (deraj.nagah)> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:42PM (#21555999)
    "We gather, collect information that is needed to protect the borders," Agen said. "We store the information we see as pertinent to keeping Americans safe."

    It's sad but there are people that think this will result in tangible safety. They don't stop to think that just maybe people coming into the US through the proper means aren't the major threats. I've talked about this is in other posts, but this takes the cake. Every one is to be viewed as a threat. The government is forcing a paranoid world of survivalism on us. I hate being alarmist, and I hate ragging on the government for nothing, but this is serious. This a fundamental challenge to the idea of personal liberty, innocence until proven guilty, and pretty much every other tenet of the philosophical basis for our nation. This is a gross, paranoid, unrealistic power grab. After reading the article I don't have a whole lot of hope. It was a calm rational piece, which is normally what I would want, but this needs to be shown for what it is.

    So to all newcomers... welcome to America where we aim to alienate and tread over any and everyone!
    • Re:Delusional (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dunbal (464142) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:46PM (#21556019)
      Don't worry, I have been purposefully avoiding the US whenever I can for the last 5 years or so. Makes travelling to Canada a bitch (I have to stop in Mexico City), but it satisfies me. My understanding is that I am not the only one, either. One day the US will realize how much its irrational behavior has cost it.
      • Re:Delusional (Score:4, Insightful)

        by G Fab (1142219) on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:49AM (#21557475)
        Your reaction is legitimate and reasonable.

        But one day, I think the US will have no trouble getting back to respecting liberty.

        We have lost a lot/ A lot of respect, a lot of freedom, and a lot of business to people like you.

        However, history shows that even the most wretched abuses (far beyond what is going on here) are quickly forgiven. I doubt you would mind traveling to Germany or Japan. And perhaps not Britain, which no longer fully recognizes human rights (in my opinion), but doesn't impact the world like the USA does.

        So I hope you're right and we Americans realize what it's costing us. On the other hand, the war we're in is not fictitious. There really is a danger out there. The restrictions have very little ability to protect us (and are largely based on a misunderstanding of who our enemy is), but it's kinda natural for people to freak out and for government to do bad stuff in these times.

        We are not killing all the Jews, raping the Chinese, giving smallpox to the natives, or rounding up the Japanese. We are totally in the wrong, but it's not something we can't come away from.

        Largely, the improvement in abuses (that they are historically minor) gives me faith that mankind, as ugly, selfish, and clumsy as it is, can truly improve over time. Civilization is actually better now than ever.

        But feel free to travel to Canada instead of the USA. I love Canada, but I hope you reconsider the States in several years when we are reacting less to fear. We're good people, and we've got a lot to be proud of.
  • Great... (Score:5, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:46PM (#21556021)

    They also assess cargo.

    Great, I can see it now:

    Agent: It says here you have a truck full of... "baklava"?

    Trucker: That's right.

    Agent: Hold on, let me just run it through the ole' computer here...

    (interminable wait)

    Agent (to the crate of deserts): OK Mr. Bahklever, lay on the ground or we'll shoot!

    Trucker: Dude... you're yelling at a pastry...

    Agent: ON THE GROUND!!!

    Trucker: I don't think it can hear you, man.

    Agent: (incinerates truck)

  • 1984? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jonr (1130) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:46PM (#21556029) Homepage Journal
    Jesus Christ on a moped. What is wrong with you people? The emperor truly has no clothes and nobody dares to point it out.
  • Profile? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by david_thornley (598059) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:51PM (#21556063)

    In a case like this, with so many people and so few terrorists, a profile is not going to accomplish much. If as many as one in ten thousand people crossing the borders were terrorists, it would make a bit more sense.

    Of course, if this program were worthwhile in the first place, it wouldn't be if Canada didn't do something similar. There is absolutely no way to stop anybody from crossing the northern border. It's thousands of miles long, unpatrolled, unfenced, and passes through some pretty wild territory.

    So, it's another pointless exercise. All it will do is hassle assorted people, many of them innocent, and do nothing to prevent terrorism.

  • by topham (32406) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:54PM (#21556083) Homepage

    Ok, if they track so much information could they inform the airline what happened to my luggage? I was flying from Winnipeg, Canada to Chicago, Il; and on to Norfolk.

    Somewhere in here United lost my luggage. They don't have a clue what they did with it.

  • Rendition (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobinH (124750) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:55PM (#21556087) Homepage
    ...and if you happen to show up as a high terrorist risk because your name matches someone else's or you recently received a phone call from a business acquaintance in the middle east, then they whisk you off to a foreign country, remove all trace that you even attempted to enter, and you get tortured until you tell them what they want to hear.

    Sounds like the collapse of the US to me.
  • Travel statistics (Score:3, Informative)

    by kylegordon (159137) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:59PM (#21556113) Homepage
    It will be interesting to see how the figures change in the coming years, as border security gets worse (ie, more restrictive), whilst the yankee dinar gets lower and lower, thus making it more appealing to holiday makers.
    There's already some revealing figures for 2006 [doc.gov] and 2007 [doc.gov]. Something to keep an eye on for sure.
  • by Phrogman (80473) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:13PM (#21556191) Homepage
    Well, I have been reluctant to want to visit the US given the rampant paranoia and siege state that seems to be prevalent down there recently, but this pretty much guarantees I won't ever visit again. Its not that I am a terrorist, its not that I am any sort of threat to anyone, and its not that I have anything to hide in fact, its that I don't want to have a profile that will be retained for 40-years, that will undoubtedly end up being incorrect in some aspect, which I can't update, correct, or most likely even view at any point during that period. Its that I don't want to risk having some mistake result in my being whisked away to some foreign country for a torture session that will produce whatever they want me to say (as erroneous as it will be) because I recognize I wouldn't stand up to sustained torture for very long. The chances are admittedly very very small, but why take any chances. When the mad dog in the junkyard is unpredictable, its better to just stay away from it.

    Weighed against the benefits of visiting the USA, I would rather go to just about any other country in the world right now. I sincerely hope you folks manage to straighten things out, find your constitution again, resurrect Habeas Corpus and the rights of the individual, and perhaps find your sanity. As it stands the Terrorists out there are winning the so-called war, because they have convinced your government to turn the US into exactly what the Terrorists claimed it was in the first place.

    Its so sad to see all this coming to pass. You folks down in the US have my sincere sympathy :(
    • by cliffski (65094) on Monday December 03, 2007 @08:39AM (#21559057) Homepage
      Agreed 100%. I love the US, I got married there, I long to return to see Vegas and Yosemite again. But no way am I going to have my fingerprints taken and be treated like a terrorist when I'm on holiday. Not when Europe has great scenery too.
      I would HATE to work in US tourism right now.
  • by zaydana (729943) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:16PM (#21556227)
    The US won't be able to keep the data for 40 years, it won't exist by then!
  • by no-body (127863) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:26PM (#21556295)
    From the article:

    "According to yesterday's notice, the program is exempt from certain requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974 that allow, for instance, people to access records to determine "if the system contains a record pertaining to a particular individual" and "for the purpose of contesting the content of the record."

    Who is going to rein back those idiots?

    America has no dream - only a nightmare.
  • Time to Leave (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:31PM (#21556321) Journal
    If our current government would have spent some time in between debating pointless things such as the question of when a fetus is considered a baby, and when it's ethical to end the pointless suffering and grotesque indignity of a human puppet show by disconnecting a feeding tube, maybe they could have found some time to fit in a discussion of the abomination of the PATRIOT act, or the legislation that mandated we track the travel habits of normal law abiding Americans in an effort to stop some vague threat they call terrorism. I'm not one bit afraid of terrorists! Stop trying to protect me from them by taking away the rights that I value.

    Every day it seems I get more confirmation that I was right in deciding I should leave this country as soon as I can. A few generations ago my family came to America to escape communism in East Germany after the war, and now I'll be leaving the USA to escape the encroachment of my rights. Things aren't that bad here yet compared to many places in the world, but my family already made the mistake of waiting too long to leave once, I'm not going to make that mistake too. Better to get out early than not at all.

    The Republicans are authoritarians and religious zealots, the sane ones either left their party or are such a small voice that they're completely drowned out by the chorus of insanity from the party at large. Ron Paul, who is a real Rep. and not a Neocon, doesn't look like he will be popular enough among the wealthy, the war-hawks, and the religious--or as they call it "the Republican base"--to win. The Democrats are too spineless to stand up for their core values, favoring a centrist stance to garner support from the left leaning Republicans, Independents, and various minorities and they end up acting like Republican-Light(TM). There is virtually no minority party voice in this country that anyone takes seriously. Both sides spend outrageous amount of money, although one actually attempts to pay for it by increasing taxes where the other just spends and passes the debt off to their kids and grandkids. Meanwhile no one is willing to put a stop to America's current adventure in the desert even though we're spending enough money on the war to fund what could be the best health care system in the world, even after you account for typical government waste and inefficiency. The soldiers that come back maimed, crippled, or psychologically scarred are given a standard of care that we should all be ashamed of. And then there are the ones who only come back draped in an American flag.

    I would recommend everyone take a serious look at the idea of leaving the US. Figure out what it would take to leave, and how fast you could do it in. There may be a time soon when you have to put that plan into action.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:46PM (#21556417)
    The purpose of these laws is not to stop terrorism. They are to restrict the law-abiding so the government can become progressively more authoritarian and the instruments will be in place to quickly eliminate those who pose a threat.

    Furthermore, this is the purpose of pretty much all recent anti-terror laws. Across the pond, extension of detention without trial, anti-free-speech laws, compulsory biometric identity cards, these are all designed so that, come the need to stand up against an increasingly oppressive government, resistance will be impossible.

    In case it's not absolutely obvious, the whole "war on terror" - which is like a "war on guns", since terrorism is a strategy, not an identifiable enemy - is engineered to create the kind of fear that makes these laws appear legitimate.

    (That's not to say there aren't some groups which pose a threat to American security which need to be dealt with. Germany and Italy overran most of Europe and were dealt with in 6 years. The sixth year anniversary of 9/11 has come and gone.)

    Humanity has never faced a greater threat to its continuing freedom. We've had governments oppress with hands, with ears, with guns; but never with the sort of technology we have today to monitor, to track, to profile, in my home county and across the world. And every technologist is to blame who does not vigorously oppose government use of his creations beyond government's mandate, who will not quickly abandon any project so co-opted. That's includes you, reader. For it is better to halt the technology's progress entirely than to build a weapon that will ultimately point at you.
  • by NetSettler (460623) <kent-slashdot@nhplace.com> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:46PM (#21556419) Homepage Journal

    The federal government disclosed details yesterday of a border-security program to screen all people who enter and leave the United States, create a terrorism risk profile of each individual and retain that information for up to 40 years ...

    This reminds me of encryption key escrow, where some bright guy thought we'd all be safer if there was just a big list of passwords all in one place so that the guy with the master root password could get anything he wanted when he wanted. It's the superficially appealing but should-be-scary notion that government would be better if more efficient.

    It's as if we think the entire world is scary but the one thing we know is a universal constant is that whoever holds the keys will not be compromised. And yet, to listen to radio DJ's, if Hillary takes office it will be as if a coup had taken place. Whatever you think of that claim--legitimate or ridiculous--the one thing that should not be in dispute is that whatever information is amassed against The People is available for use by anyone who has the keys even if a hostile regime change happens. Some people think electing the other party is such a thing, and others don't. But even if you believe an election is benign, there are potential events in the world that are not neutral and that would be bad. We all draw lines in different places, but we all draw lines. I have my own political biases but they are not relevant here--people on both sides of the present political divides should be equally concerned on this one.

    What if someone manipulated an election? What if the value of the dollar fell so low that the only people who could fund an electable candidate were foreigners? What if someone successfully attacked the center of government? What if someone bribed a politician? What if a hacker or a worm/virus/whatever snuck in and found all this data? Surely everyone has some scenario they can think of in which the person sitting in the White House might not be someone they wanted to trust with the kind of data being collected here.

    Although many people are made nervous about abuse of information, the scenarios discussed usually seem to focus on an isolated individual doing a little inappropriate peeking or a bit of overzealous prosecution or menacing. But that's not the worst case. The worst case is someone getting past the safeguards of the nation and getting to the seat of power and then having at their fingertips the knowledge of who is a threat and who is not, so they can't be re-taken because they have defensive knowledge on everyone who might oppose them.

    The government seems obsessed with the notion that centralization is the key to success, but it doesn't realize that the designers of the original republic did a brilliant job of coming up with a distributed structure that made us all safe--the notion of each state having its own way of doing things, and having all of those states be relatively autonomous. Even to the point of allowing state militias, which as I understand it had the potential duty to protect the state from the federal government if it got uppity. In effect, what they implemented was genetic diversity, which makes it harder to attack the US because there are a variety of defenses in play unevenly and it's hard to devise a uniform plan of attack that will take down every state at the same time. But one by one, we're turning our states into clones of one another, so that a single plan of attack will be more likely to succeed on everything at once. That won't make us safer.

  • by PineGreen (446635) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @10:49PM (#21556433) Homepage
    What is the problem? I am on a J-1 visa in the states and go in and out regularly. Why shouldn't they keep a profile of me? At least someone who cares... ;)

    I think USA would be a much better country if people learned that coffee should be drank from a porcelain cup rather than a paper one and that beer should be drunk from a glass rather than a bottle. Next you should fix the medical insurance or at least regulate it more seriously if you don't think universal insurance is not good enough. Then you should do something about taking mentally ill people off the streets, this is really quite bad. There are real things that need to be fixed in this country, rather than worry about privacy!
  • by carlos92 (682924) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:07PM (#21556543)
    This enormous expenditure of resources in such an unreliable defense is ridiculous. I was hoping to visit the US sometime, but what I heard of the security checks at the borders makes me scary, even though I've got nothing to hide.
  • Is it just me... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:09PM (#21556565) Homepage Journal
    or it seems that George Bush is rushing to make the US as totalitarian as possible before leaving the chair?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by photomonkey (987563)

      Unfortunately, you can't blame this on King George squarely. He has a more than compliant Senate, House of Representatives and Supreme Court (all full of Democrats and Republicans) willing to let him do whatever he wants while they debate whether or not next Thursday should be the National Purple Day or National Yellow Day (in a non-binding resolution kinda way).

      In the 18th and 19th Centuries, throughout Western Europe and the New World, this was the stuff revolutions and uprisings were made of...

      I gue

    • by mikelieman (35628) on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:22AM (#21557311) Homepage
      Just wait until you see what the NEXT totalitarian to hold office does, now that Bush has lowered the bar....

  • Gladly... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CptPicard (680154) on Monday December 03, 2007 @08:11AM (#21558961)
    ... I decided not to go to the USA any time soon right after GWB came into office. Fortunately, I haven't had to break my principles (I'm in Europe, of course).

    The funny thing about these profiling things is that they can be used for so much more. For example one of my treehugging hippie political activist friends is on some kind of a terrorist watchlist to the US, and the funny thing is she wouldn't resort to violence to defend her own life, not to mention she's a small woman in a wheelchair... Another activist friend of hers always gets his book shipments from Amazon crudely opened along the way and then resealed. Mine always arrive untouched.

Almost anything derogatory you could say about today's software design would be accurate. -- K.E. Iverson

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