Tuesday, February 21, 2006

6 degrees of freedom -- the update

Back on November 15, 2002, Salon ran a story revealing that the U.S. Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) keeps a list of about 1,000 people who have been deemed a “threat to aviation.”

As the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) tells it:
The November 15th story features interviews with a number of people, including the CCR’s own assistant legal director Barbara Olshansky, who were stopped and subjected to close scrutiny as they boarded aircraft in the U.S. Salon reporter, David Lindorff, investigated the stories of several activists including members of Peace Action and the Green Party, who were questioned, and in some cases, taken off planes. Lindorff contacted the Transportation and Security Administration where an official confirmed that they have such a list stating:

“This list is composed of names that are provided to us by various government organizations like the FBI, CIA and the INS. . . We don't ask how they decide who to list. Each agency decides on its own who is a ‘threat to aviation.’”
That’s a lot of potential terrorists, and presumably if the government has enough cause to keep you off an airplane, it has enough cause to listen to your phone calls under the NSA’s program of warrantless wiretaps on Americans.

That goes for anyone you talk to, also. And anyone to whom they speak.

Now let’s do some math. Assume that each of the “threats to aviation” has 25 unique “affiliates,” by which I mean, not affiliated with any of the people on the TSA threat list or their affiliates. And just for the sake of discussion, let’s assume that each of these 2nd level affiliates also has 25 more affiliates. Then add one more degree of separation, and we’ve got 390 million plus potential wiretap targets.

I am guessing that the number of people on the TSA Threats to Aviation list has increased in the last 3 and a half years. Do you feel secure knowing that the government's program of domestic spying is only targeting “terrorists and their affiliates?”

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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