Dahr Jamail is back, but there’s little new.
TSA is one of several security gifts from the Bush administration, or rather, from the twisted conjunction of corporate business and state power that oversees and safeguards our â€œfreedomâ€ and â€œdemocracyâ€ through an elaborate system of control mechanisms.
Immediately in front of me, an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair was trying to reason with the security guard who was asking him to take off his sandals. â€œWhat do you want me to do? I didnâ€™t wear socks so you could see my feet since Iâ€™m unable to bend over and take off my sandals.â€
â€œSir, you must comply with policy,â€ the guard said in a raised voice, as three other TSA agents moved in behind him, arms folded ominously across their chests, and surrounded the elderly man in the wheelchair who requested their assistance, doing what he could to â€œcomply.â€ None of the guards stepped forward to take off his sandals for him in order to check his feet.
In exasperation he shouted, â€œIâ€™m asking for help, and you wonâ€™t do it, so what do you want me to do? What the Hell am I supposed to do? What are you afraid of? Iâ€™m an old man in a wheelchair! Are you afraid of my sandals?â€
The guards would not allow him through the x-ray until he eventually lowered his voice. We must never upset the status quo, because that is an important pillar of a system that holds change in dread. Do not rock the boat, and donâ€™t you dare speak up, lest it indicate that something is wrong.
It requires no crystal ball to see that we are embedded in a system that has no qualms about harassing old men in wheelchairs or making pregnant women walk through x-ray machines. It is the same system that is killing scores of Iraqi and Afghan civilians daily, and killing the planet systemically. It is a system that requires us to be sleepwalkers, rather than alert and sensitive humans.
We have an African-American president, but let us also bear in mind that he is but a symbol, and our need and faith may not suffice for the symbol of change to deliver real change.
There is a tremendous schism between what Barack Obama is saying, and what he is doing. Already, he is gathering around him a group of people that are not only likely to maintain status quo, but worse, cause our current catastrophic situation to worsen.
On November 17, Obama promised on CBS News 60 Minutes to shut down the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, while his advisers are simultaneously crafting a plan to create a brand new system of â€œPreventive Detentionâ€ and â€œNational Security Courts.â€ Preventive detention facilities do not give people the right to challenge their own detention, which is essentially what the Guantanamo Bay gulag has been all about – detaining people without charging them with a crime, and without trial. All we have at the moment is a suggestion of brand change, but nothing about policy change.
Obama promises to restore the moral stature of the United States. He has John Brennan and Jami Miscik, former intelligence officials under George Tenet, leading his review of intelligence agencies and making recommendations to the new administration. Brennan supported warrantless wiretapping and kidnapping (extraordinary rendition) and Miscik was involved with the politicized intelligence alleging WMDs in Iraq. They were both part of the team that provided the phony intelligence when Tenet informed Bush during the lead up to the Iraq invasion that the intelligence to support it was a â€œslam dunk.â€ The incoming administration has also revealed that there will be no attempt to bring criminal charges against government officials who authorized or engaged in torture during the Bush presidency.
Barack Obama announced on CBS that immediately upon taking office on January 20, he and his security advisers will â€œstart executing a plan that draws down our troopsâ€ from Iraq.
What we never hear him mention is the massive US military infrastructure being developed in Iraq. The US â€œembassyâ€ in Iraq is the largest embassy in the world and the most secure diplomatic compound in the world.
At a construction budget that now exceeds $1 billion, the â€œembassyâ€ is a self-sustaining cluster of 21 buildings reinforced 2.5 times the usual standards, with some walls as thick as 15 feet.
Plans are for over 1,000 US government officials to work and reside there. They will have access to gyms, swimming pools, barber and beauty shops, food courts and the commissary. There will also be large-scale barracks for troops, a school, locker rooms, a warehouse, a vehicle maintenance garage, and six apartment buildings with a total of 619 one-bedroom units. The total site will be two-thirds the area of the National Mall in Washington, DC. And, luckily for these â€œgovernment officials,â€ their water and electricity supplies and sewage treatment plants will be independent of Baghdadâ€™s city utilities. Meanwhile, one of four residents of Baghdad, a capital city of over six million, are now displaced from their homes thanks to the so-called surge. Of those lucky enough to still have a roof over their head, they receive an average of 3-4 hours of electricity on good days, and recent reports show that at least 45 percent of Iraqis lack access to safe drinking water.
Then there are the permanent military bases in Iraq.
BONDSTEEL is the prototype