Enhanced Security: Whatever happened to the SSSS and the Terrorist Watch List?

I reported on July 15, 2008 that the terrorist watch list reached 1,000,665 and growing, based on ACLU tally, and the government’s own reported numbers for the size of list.

The article also discussed the branding of boarding passes of decent and ordinary citizens, activists, journalists, authors, clergy, congressmen, and many others with the ominous sign of  “SSSS” “Selectee for enhanced security screening,” in order to create the illusion of safety and generating a bogus watch list that targets every American citizen.

Ironically, the new ACLU tally indicates that as of March 19, 2009 the watch list is still growing and has reached the 1,163,390 with no end in sight [1], at a growth rate of 24,000 people per month. Eventually, every American citizen will be on this list.

The Democratic congress has been complicit in this abusive process with the Bush administration and has done nothing in the last few years to dampen the misuse of this practice of unaccountable power.     

In 2009, a new beginning has commenced with the new Obama administration that has promised us reform, hope, equality, fairness, liberty, and justice for all. As a result, the Democratic congress with the support of the new president has continued the same policies of Bush.

However, under extreme public pressure to change the course of constitutional abuse, this treasonous and complicit congress that endorsed the contrived Iraq war and the war on terror, as well as the disembowelment of the constitution and the bill of rights, has passed a house bill on February 2009 H.R. 559, sponsored by Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY) to give the impression of action that might cleanse them from their sins and from the continuous violation of the rights of the American public. The new bill requires the secretary of homeland security otherwise known as the Orwellian ministry of Love to create an Office of Appeals and Redress.

The American Civil Liberty Union headed by CFR member Anthony Romero, welcomed this development, but reiterated its call on Congress and the Obama administration to reexamine the nation’s approach to the watch list, because it remains fundamentally flawed.

The mockery in this charade is that the victims who were placed on this list wrongly, randomly, or on purpose to be silenced, harassed, and intimidated will have to carry on the burden of proof to the new Home Land Security Bureaucracy to exonerate themselves from the overreaching tentacles of big brother.

Meanwhile, TSA is continuing to implement their behavioral surveillance program that was launched in 2006, and has spread to every state and every airport. It is known as Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) denounced the SPOT program in October of 2008 in an emailed statement to media discouraging the use of behavioral patterns as a predictive measure.

The TSA program trains screeners to become “behavior detection officers” who patrol terminals and checkpoints looking for travelers who act oddly or appear to answer questions suspiciously.

Critics say the number of arrests is small and indicates the program is flawed.                                 

“That’s an awful lot of people being pulled aside and inconvenienced,” said Carnegie Mellon scientist Stephen Fienberg, who studied the TSA program and other counterterrorism efforts. “I think it’s a sham. We have no evidence it works.” [2]. 


The “SPOT” and the “SSSS” continue to subsist in their dark path of abuse, humiliation, and control of passengers, while, Home Land Security and TSA resume their investment in these programs to justify their own bureaucratic existence, and to expand government control over the people.

So next time you are in the airport, make sure that you don’t have a panic attack, be warm and sweaty, or wear sunglasses, because you might be investigated and considered a terrorist.                       

Untrained TSA employees have become psychological Gurus who can read your intentions and your thoughts.                                                                                                                               

TSA also known as the Orwellian thought police will analyze and observe behaviors and act accordingly. Behavior analysis will continue to target specific groups. In Newspeak terms, the behavioral analysis of passengers is another expression for racial and cultural profiling.  


Finally, I wonder if it is feasible for president Obama to truly govern a nation that is immersed with pundits, mentors, special interests, and financiers who guide him every step of the way.

Can Obama ever have the courage to reduce his bloated bureaucracy and eliminate these parasitic agencies like HLS and TSA that are financed by the blood and hard work of American  citizens?       

Bigger governments do not correlate to efficiency and safety, and new presidents do not correlate to change but more of the same. However, Orwell’s Oceania definitely correlates to today’s America .


  1. http://www.aclu.org/watchlist 
  2. USA Today. (11-19-2008). TSA’s ‘behavior detection’ leads to few arrests

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Articles by: Rev. Richard Skaff

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