Sunday, November 26, 2006

If I cover my eyes, they can't see me

An interesting tidbit for today, my friends.

Browsing around the Intarweb tubes with the help of ‘the google’ I happened upon the following story (published yesterday, 11/25/06) from Reuters by way of the Washington Post:

“The Transportation Security Administration said yesterday that it will charge $28 a year to process background checks on each airline passenger who joins a privately run traveler registry.

Congress created the Registered Traveler program after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in response to complaints about long security lines that became common at airports with stepped-up passenger and bag screening.

The program is mainly aimed at frequent fliers, which include premium-paying business travelers on major airlines at busier airports.

The fee, charged to the private companies that run Registered Traveler, would cover the TSA's costs for performing the checks and overseeing the program, the agency said.

Previous TSA fee estimates of up to $100 had generated a backlash from airports and companies interested in the program. They said higher cost would sap passenger interest.

Supporters say Registered Traveler will lead to a faster and easier trip through airport security for those who sign up and agree to submit personal information for background checks and fingerprints or other biometric information to be embedded on an identity card.

The program has been slow to get going and so far is in place only at the Orlando airport. There, passengers pay $99.95 for a one-year membership, which covers expenses for TSA vetting. Verified Identity Pass Inc. said it has registered more than 30,000 people for its registered traveler programs, most from the effort in Orlando.

The company, which is privately held, , said it plans to expand the service to Cincinnati, Indianapolis, San Jose and the British Airways terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport by January.”

[Let’s seeee, $99.95 x 30000 = 2,998,401. Not bad for the first launch at the first airport. Not too bad as an annually replenishing passive income stream, either. As this becomes more intertwined with the airline and DHS way of doing things, one can’t help but wonder how high this fee will eventually rise, what with inflationary concerns, more stringent security requirements as time goes on, and new measures deemed necessary to protect future data after an invariable “data loss”. What happens to someone who joins and then doesn’t want to renew? Is that person now “suspect” as trying to avoid this thing that “is for our own good”? Just some questions worth pondering…..]

Security and Convenience for just a bit more cash. Who wouldn’t want that? I decided to dig a wee bit deeper to check for “monsters under the bed”, if you will.

First, a trip to the website of Verified Identity Pass, Inc. The main page greets potentials with fantastic news, namely that it has the backing of Michael Chertoff. If it’s good enough for Chertoff and the Ministry of Truth DHS, it good enough for me.

Moving on.

A search of the address listed on the website reveals some information that should be of note. In looking at the list of associated businesses, one name in particular jumped out:, Kroll (in its many forms). Severely underwhelming, you say? Who cares, right?

Indeed, who cares, except for one small detail. Kroll was the company responsible for security up to the attacks that illuminated the imminent, ever-present, and “for the foreseeable future” terror threat. Boy, thank goodness they’re in our corner. (Also enjoy, with compliments, these tasty morsels from The Center for Public Integrity or Demopedia)

What about the folks at the top? Such people will surely have no motivation other than the altruistic sort. In the interest of time let’s take a brief look at the two persons at the top of this latest venture to contribute to the public well-being.

In the first Director Chair we have Samuel Berger, who happens to be a former National Security Advisor. He also happens to have been recently convicted of a misdemeanor. It is the details of said misdemeanor from a Justice Department document that are of particular note—yet another innocuous coincidence in a world filled with so many, no doubt.

(While certainly no law expert, I have the sneaking suspicion that had you or I been the ones removing, destroying, and/or otherwise altering National Archive documents, much more serious charges and penalties would have been levied and enforced. Congratulations! You’ve won a free trip to a secluded and rustic location of our choice!)

In the second Director Chair we have Steven Berkenfeld. Mr. Berkenfeld is a managing director of Lehman Brothers. He is a Director of RSI Holding Corporation (who acquired Employment Solutions, Inc. in 2002, who are “…in the business of locating and providing labor to industrial companies.”), and is a Member of the Corporate Financing Committee at the NASD. (this information comes from Tiger 21, itself an interesting site).

Start reading. Begin recognizing the chains that increasingly bind.


Just what is all this trying to imply? That it’s all a big shell game? Perish the thought.

We are informed, ad nauseum, by our elected parents that these monsters under the collective bed do not exist. Who to believe? Our dependency on the ‘rents is strong. Will we grow up and learn to depend on ourselves once again or will we regress further still? Will we continue to retreat to the fake comforts of a televised reality that says what we so desperately want and need to hear because glimpsing the beginnings of truth means facing an ugliness we never really thought possible?

I wonder why our media ringmasters think it unnecessary to let us know these things. I wonder why digging for said information never seems to have occurred to them in the first place.

Okay, that’s a lie. I don’t wonder at all. If these “little” bits of information were actually sought after and reported in the main, it just might lead people in a truly informed democracy to think that they might not need all of these new measures, costs, and restrictions in order to be safe in the almighty scam that is the War on Terror. People just might be very averse to the idea that this is yet another way to extract from them more flesh, less in pounds, but more in survivable and sustainable ounces. It is the bar mitzvah of our new microfleshcash economy, transforming people into the new and improved, more frightened and easily controlled, money machines they always knew we could be.

Basil, this coffee smells like shit.

It *is* shit, Austin.

Oh, good, then it’s not just me.