Guest blogged by Winter Patriot
Not for nothing is Chris Floyd one of my favorite journalists. He's one of my favorite bloggers too.
Why? Because he cares so much, because he writes so well, because he pays such close attention. And because he never fails to mention things like this:
Want to know why the government shouldn't have overweening, unrestrained, unchallengeable "unitary executive power" to act as it pleases, even in the name of "national security?" Here's why – because such powers are always, always, always going to be abused, in ways large and small. This is an absolute, unalterable given of human nature, like the requirement for oxygen or the need for food: unchecked power will be abused, and innocent people will suffer. Only a cast-iron, gold-plated, copper-bottomed fool would think otherwise. Unfortunately, such specimens are swinging from the rafters in every branch of the government these days.
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. The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.
"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.
… 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…What kind of impact would it have for a flying individual to be named in an SDR?
"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.