Nov 232010
 November 23, 2010  Surveillance

There’s a good blog post over on I Will Optout of TSA Scan, “Staying On Message Shapes Public Opinion; So Does Dissent

One message, according to Gill, is that we have no evidence that these intrusive methods actually prevent the very type of terrorist attack that inspired their deployment because not enough assessment has been done. There has been no cost benefit analysis, risk assessment, or privacy impact assessment. Gill links to relevant sections of a March 2010 GAO report to support her arguments.

Sadly, journalists covering the controversy often merely repeat unfounded assertions by TSA or administration people without challenging them as to the proof of their claims.

What really struck me as I was reading a variety of articles this morning was one comment by Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Tucker wants Obama to be firmer in supporting the TSA and these methods, and writes, in part:

According to new polls, a majority of people support the procedures because they know they are necessary.

Well, no, Ms. Tucker. You can’t “know” something that isn’t true. Epistemiology 101. So how do you “know” that these procedures are “necessary?” No one argues that security isn’t necessary, but where is the evidence of the efficacy of these procedures that would support calling them “necessary?”

The American public still — despite years of being lied to — wants to believe its government and doesn’t want to be afraid of terrorists. So if the government says “this is necessary” or “this will keep you safer,” the majority may desperately want to believe that. But it doesn’t make the claims true any more than the past administration claiming that there were definitely weapons of mass destruction made those claims true.

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