Wed 26 Jul 2006
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Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.
“The Trial”, Kafka
Stumbled upon this troubling account from Denver’s ABC 7:
You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they’re reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it.
“Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft … and they did nothing wrong,” said one federal air marshal.
“When you see a decision like this, for these reports, who loses here?” Kovaleski asked. “The people we’re supposed to protect — the American public,” an air marshal said. “That could have serious impact … They could be placed on a watch list. They could wind up on databases that identify them as potential terrorists or a threat to an aircraft. It could be very serious,” said Don Strange, a former agent in charge of air marshals in Atlanta. He lost his job attempting to change policies inside the agency.
These unknowing passengers who are doing nothing wrong are landing in a secret government document called a Surveillance Detection Report, or SDR. Air marshals told 7NEWS that managers in Las Vegas created and continue to maintain this potentially dangerous quota system.”Do these reports have real life impacts on the people who are identified as potential terrorists?” 7NEWS Investigator Tony Kovaleski asked.”Absolutely,” a federal air marshal replied.
“When you see a decision like this, for these reports, who loses here?” Kovaleski asked.
“The people we’re supposed to protect — the American public,” an air marshal said.
“There is no doubt,” he said quietly, “that there is some enormous organisation determining what is said by this court. In my case this includes my arrest and the examination taking place here today, an organisation that employs policemen who can be bribed, oafish supervisors and judges of whom nothing better can be said than that they are not as arrogant as some others. This organisation even maintains a high-level judiciary along with its train of countless servants, scribes, policemen and all the other assistance that it needs, perhaps even executioners and torturers – I’m not afraid of using those words. And what, gentlemen, is the purpose of this enormous organisation? Its purpose is to arrest innocent people and wage pointless prosecutions against them which, as in my case, lead to no result. How are we to avoid those in office becoming deeply corrupt when everything is devoid of meaning? That is impossible, not even the highest judge would be able to achieve that for himself. That is why policemen try to steal the clothes off the back of those they arrest, that is why supervisors break into the homes of people they do not know, that is why innocent people are humiliated in front of crowds…
That’s why several air marshals object to a July 2004 memo from top management in the Las Vegas office, a memo that reminded air marshals of the SDR requirement. The body of the memo said, “Each federal air marshal is now expected to generate at least one SDR per month.”
“Does that memo read to you that Federal Air Marshal headquarters has set a quota on these reports?” Kovaleski asked. “Absolutely, no doubt,” an air marshal replied.
A second management memo, also dated July 2004, said, “There may come an occasion when you just don’t see anything out of the ordinary for a month at a time, but I’m sure that if you are looking for it, you’ll see something.”
Another federal air marshal said that not only is there a quota in Las Vegas for SDRs, but that “it directly reflects on (their) performance evaluations” and on how much money they make.
The man has come to the law for the first time and the doorkeeper is already there. He’s been given his position by the law, to doubt his worth would be to doubt the law.” “I can’t say I’m in complete agreement with this view,” said K. shaking his head, “as if you accept it you’ll have to accept that everything said by the doorkeeper is true. But you’ve already explained very fully that that’s not possible.” “No,” said the priest, “you don’t need to accept everything as true, you only have to accept it as necessary.” “Depressing view,” said K. “The lie made into the rule of the world.”
“Well, it’s intelligence information, and like any system, if you put garbage in, you get garbage out,” the air marshal said.