Tag Archives: rights

Oklahoma Action Alert! Big Momma Gov. Wants ‘Local Control’ SB36

nanny state

Kaye Beach

Feb. 17, 2013

SB36 by Sen. Simpson would allow cities to regulate smoking in in public places in excess of what state law allows.

Do we want to give cities more power to infringe upon our rights?

What could possibly go wrong?

King Bloomberg: Ban Everything!

King Bloomberg: Ban Everything!


-Violates rights of property owners
-Violates consumers right to choose

State standards already protect health of non smokers. (by requiring businesses to install what amounts to a BSL 3 area for smokers.  These are expensive, negative pressure, separate ventilation system rooms for smoking patrons!)

Here is the bottom line:

“Private property owners should be free to allow smoking or not. Those who wish to smoke can patronize places that cater to smokers. Those who don’t will have places that seek their business. That’s how the free market works.” (Hat tip to Rob Abeira from Oklahomans for Individual Rights https://www.facebook.com/OKRights )

This bill will be heard in the General Government Committee Monday morning at 10:30 AM

Contact the members of the General Government Committee before Monday morning and tell them to vote NO! on SB36!


Senator Greg Treat – Chair
Senator Roger Ballenger – Vice Chair
Senator Cliff Aldridge
Senator Nathan Dahm
Senator Jerry Ellis
Senator Rob Johnson
Senator Kyle Loveless
Senator Bryce Marlatt

Email grouping for Gen. Gov. Committee

Treat@oksenate.gov; ballenger@oksenate.gov; aldridge@oksenate.gov; Dahm@oksenate.gov; ellis@oksenate.gov; johnsonr@oksenate.gov ; loveless@oksenate.gov; marlatt@oksenate.gov

I can find no compelling reason to further regulate smoking in public places (which includes private businesses!) Maybe the push for more ‘local control’ isn’t just about smoking.

This Mid West City family spent years in a court battle and no telling how much money fighting against the city to keep their Bull Terrier dog.   The city attorney repeatedly  asserted;

“It’s not about about the dogs. It’s about local control,”

Supreme Court overturns pit bull ban 

I don’t care whether it comes from the local, state or federal level, these days it is ALL ABOUT CONTROL!


After you email the committee, why not also give them a quick call in the morning and remind them to vote NO! on SB36

  • Senator Greg Treat – R – Chair   – 405-521-5632 –
  • Senator Roger  Ballenger – D – Vice Chair  405-521-5588
  • Senator Cliff  Aldridge – R – 405-521-5584
  • Senator Nathan  Dahm – R – 405-521-5551
  • Senator Jerry Ellis – D  – 405-521-5614
  • Senator Rob Johnson –  R – 405-521-5592
  • Senator Kyle  Loveless – R – 405-521-5618
  • Senator Bryce  Marlatt – R – 405-521-5626

Logan Co. Comm’n Sharpton Asks Questions About Driver’s License Scanning and Background Check Devices in Schools

Kaye Beach

September 6, 2012
I have been watching the news about Edmond Schools’ new Lobby Guard checkpoint  system that requires visitors to scan their driver’s license for an instant background check..  Schools in Jenks have had the devices for a while but they are new to the central Oklahoma area.  I know there is some concern from parents but I have yet to see any of the concerns addressed by the media. (Correct me please, if I am wrong.)  If you are an Edmond parent who has misgivings about the new systems, you might think that you are alone.  I assure you that you are not.

Mark Sharpton, Logan County Commissioner asks some very good questions about the new system.  Parents in Edmond should be empowered to have their concerns and questions addressed thoroughly before meekly swiping their driver’s licenses and ID cards as well.

Just How Far Should the Government Go

Opinion by Mark Sharpton

Published August 26, 2012

Typically my updates are about county road and bridge improvements but this time I want to address an issue related to liberty. Liberty comes from the Latin word libertas, meaning “unbounded, unrestricted or released from constraint.” It contains the idea of being separate and independent. I have given thought to this lately since learning that several schools in the state have chosen to begin conducting instant background checks on visitors, including grandparents wanting to have lunch with their grandchildren. As I understand it, some schools are setting up a kiosk which scans a person’s driver’s license before allowing them to enter. The scan will check for outstanding warrants, divorce issues and sex offenders, and then action will be taken in response to what is found. While I understand the concept of trying to protect children, is this really the role of school officials? Just how much power do we want government to have in “protecting” us?

Please Read More!

“Dark Skies” Might Be a Hard Sell in Oklahoma

Kaye Beach

*Update June 15,2011

Like I said-Dark Skies might just be a hard sell…Due to an sudden “dark sky” event, the lighting ordinance proposal had to be postponed due to a mighty storm that appeared to centered right on top of the Norman Municipal complex area where the City Council meeting was being held last evening.

June 15, 2011

High winds tear roof from apartment building, snap power poles in Norman. . .

Down burst hits Norman, NWS says

The down burst was centralized in Norman, Pike said.

The storm hit and knocked out the power in the municipal building just before the lighting ordinance was to be considered.  The meeting had to be  canceled.  It has been rescheduled for June 21st.

June 14, 2011

If the idea of “Dark Skies” doesn’t give you are warm and fuzzy feeling all over, it could just be that you are an Oklahoman.

But don’t be so hasty.  There are more ominous aspects to this proposal than just the foreboding connotation of threatening weather that come to mind when dark skies are mentioned in these parts.

“Everyone is a citizen of the world. At some level we should all be its stewards with accountability toward preserving its environment. One component of that is the preservation of dark skies or the prevention of light pollution”

GLOBE at Night . . .enlists the help of students to collect data on the night sky conditions in their community and contribute to a worldwide database on light pollution.

Read more about Dark Skies Awareness

There will be a Norman City Council meeting today at 5:30 pm to include consideration of the controversial lighting ordinance.
TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2011 at 5:30 P.M.

See City Council Agenda

The proposed lighting ordinance is back up for a vote.

Norman Transcript Articles

June 11, 2011

Lighting Ordinance Resurfaces

April 13, 2011

Lighting ordinance draws opposition

The proposed ordinance, O-1011-44, is being presented as primarily an energy conservation measure.


(Established by Ord. No. O-1011-44 — ___, 2011)

1.         Purpose and Intent.  It is the intent of this Section to define practical and effective measures by which the obtrusive aspects of commercial outdoor light usage can be minimized, while preserving safety, security, and the nighttime use and enjoyment of property.  These measures are intended to reduce light spillover, minimize glare, and decrease resource waste.

Council Committee compromise version 6 7 11 Commercial Lighting vers 3 (2)-1

April 15,2011

Norman City Council and Public Discuss New Lighting Ordinance

Almost every seat was full on Tuesday night during the city council meeting; many were filled by students, all dressed in black shirts.

The students of Norman North High School’s astronomy club attended the city council meeting on Tuesday, April 12. They waited patiently in the back for their turn to speak their opinion to the city council. They all wore black shirts to show their support for the lighting ordinance. As the four students and one of their teachers stepped toward the podium, a power point presentation came up on the screen. The students passed forward a petition with 637 signatures in support of the proposed lighting ordinance proposed by the City Council.


Norman Public School teachers apparently are using our taxes to indoctrinate school kids on new   “rights” and using them to instigate the implementation of city policy that offers us these new “rights” invented by international organizations  in lieu of long established natural and legal ones.

The students, however, are to be commended.  They overcame the usual apathy and turned out in force to defend what they are being taught is a right.

The Starlight Initiative

An unpolluted night sky that allows the enjoyment and contemplation of the firmament should be considered an inalienable right of humankind equivalent to all other environmental, social, and cultural rights, due to its impact on the development of all peoples and on the conservation of biodiversity.”
Starlight Declaration. La Palma, Spain 2008.


Too bad the schools aren’t teaching about them about their true rights to life, liberty and property that are recognized and guaranteed to each and every one of us by law in the United States.   For the first time, I am thankful that my daughter chose the more physical and less academic route at Norman North.  I don’t think I could face this sort of  public realization that my tax dollars had been used in this manner.

Outside Agitators

“Grzybowski said the class is Norman’s outside agitators to the city for the issue of light pollution, encouraging City Council to preserve the night sky by passing lighting ordinances”

“The students — steered by Norman North astronomy teacher Eileen Grzybowski — have collected readings throughout Norman as part of Globe Night 2010, a worldwide campaign to fight light pollution —“

(Source March 15, 2010  Star light, star bright  The Norman Transcript)

GLOBE Night 2010 centerpiece of the Dark Skies Awareness Global Cornerstone Project for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) in 2009 a UNESCO initiative.  (More information below)

Mrs. Grzybowski’s husband is the author of this publication;

The Canadian River and floodplain in Norman, Oklahoma: Environmental perspective

Joseph A Grzybowski (Author)

Unfortunately, Amazon.com lists this publication as out of print

Joseph A. Grzybowski, Ph.D. is a Biologist/Ornithologist [scientist who studies birds]and Professor who serves on various local, regional and national committees involving endangered species and environmental management.” link

IYA2009 Boosts Globe at Night to Record Number of Dark-Skies Observations

Source: International Year of Astronomy 2009 Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009

In Norman, Oklahoma, high school students, their teachers and local amateur astronomers produced a map of nearly 500 SQM measurements that canvassed their city. Local teacher and amateur astronomer Eileen Grzybowski, with students Brittany, Emily and Braden, then made a well-received presentation of the results to their local Environmental Control Advisory Board. (Emphasis mine)

They [the City of Norman’s Environmental Control Advisory Board]  want us to partner with them and be the outside agitating voice in the newspapers and elsewhere to put the issue of revising our lighting ordinances front and center, Grzybowski reported.

They[the City of Norman’s Environmental Control Advisory Board] made suggestions as to how the presentation could be revised to make a bigger impact.

They want us to obtain pictures taken from the sky down to the Earth from an airplane and pictures of our ground-based sites of high light pollution and dark oases, and they want us to include data about security issues and cost savings. http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=28094

**See below for information regarding the IYA2009 and “GLOBE at Night”


“Our next step is to go before the City Council and do the light demo and discuss our preliminary results.” Says Grzybowski

Which they did on May 13, 2010.



MAY 13, 2010




City of Norman Environmental Control Advisory Board

Investigates, prepares plans for, and recommends programs regarding the preservation and enhancement of the environmental quality of the City as well as administers variance procedures in the Air Quality Control Ordinance. Meets the 3rd Wednesday; 5:30 p.m., Norman Municipal Building Multi-Purpose Room, 201 West Gray. (3-year term)

US Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement


  • Amanda Rook – 07/14/09 – 07/14/09 – 10/27/12 – 5
  • Mark Jensen  – 11/10/09 – 11/10/09 – 10/27/12- 2
  • Dr. Moira Waterbury – 11/10/09 – 11/10/09 – 10/27/12 – 5
  • Asia Scudder – 04/27/10 – 04/27/10 – 10/27/13  – 4
  • Yves Badaroux – 04/27/10 – 04/27/10 – 10/27/13 – 3
  • Dave Boeck – 04/10/07 – 10/27/10 – 10/27/13 – 4
  • Larry Steele, CHAIR – 10/27/08 – 10/27/08 – 10/27/11 – 7
  • Jane Dye – 10/27/05 – 10/27/08 – 10/27/11 – 7
  • Neil Suneson – 08/09/05 – 10/27/08 – 10/27/11 – 2


About those Dark Skies

2007 First meeting of the Starlight Reserves Working Group.

The overall aim is to discuss the problems of identification of specific catego­ries of natural sites, skyscapes, cultural nightscapes, and excep­tional sites for astronomical observation, as “Starlight Reserves” for their possible nominations on the World Heritage List.



IYA 2009
The United Nations declares 2009 the International Year of Astronomy.

20 December 2007: the United Nations 62nd General Assembly proclaimed 2009 the International Year of Astronomy. The Resolution was submitted by Italy, Galileo Galilei’s home country. The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is an initiative of the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO.

THE STARLIGHT INITIATIVE (Granting all the “right” to observe the stars which will obviously clash with your right to light your property!)

An unpolluted night sky that allows the enjoyment and contemplation of the firmament should be considered an inalienable right of humankind equivalent to all other environmental, social, and cultural rights, due to its impact on the development of all peoples and on the conservation of biodiversity.”
Starlight Declaration. La Palma, Spain 2008.


The initiative is designed as an international campaign in defence of the values associated with the night sky and the general right to observe the stars. It is open to the participation of all scientific, cultural, environmental, and citizens’ organizations and associations, as well as public institutions and other public and private bodies willing to effectively cooperate in the conservation of clear skies and the dissemination of the knowledge related with their observation. The final aim of the initiative is to strengthen the importance of clear skies for humankind, emphasizing and introducing the value of this endangered heritage for science, education, culture, technological development, nature conservation, tourism and, obviously, as a quality-of-life factor.


GLOBE at Night is a fun, international citizen-science event that encourages everyone— students, educators, dark sky advocates and the general public— to measure the darkness of their local skies and contribute their observations online to a world map. The program is a centerpiece of the Dark Skies Awareness Global Cornerstone Project for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) in 2009. Its goal is to raise public awareness of the impact of artificial lighting on local environments by getting people involved. http://www.darkskiesawareness.org/gan.php

GLOBE at Night in Norman

United States: 475 Sky Quality Meter measurements & 475 Orion measurements during GLOBE at Night in Norman, Oklahoma àlighting inventory for city


Dark Skies initiatives are concerned with land development control policies and part of a “Global Assessment” done on behalf of an International Union


The Dark Skies Advisory Group of the Specialist Group works to reduce light pollution and protect a natural night sky. While it focuses primarily on protected areas and sites, the group is also concerned with appropriate design and land development control policies.


IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is the

world’s oldest and largest global environmental network – a

democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and

NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists

in more than 160 countries.


The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognizes the importance of natural darkness to the ecological integrity of protected areas, and to the sustainability of healthy lives in healthy cities.  The Dark Skies Advisory Group has been established within IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas to help advance this recognition. 

“. . .ecosystems and wild species operate 24 hours each day, seven days each week.  They have evolved to cope with, depend on and take advantage of natural darkness.  A night sky without artificial light is therefore vital to the proper functioning of natural ecosystems.  Artificial lighting affects species migration patterns, predator-prey relationships, and the circadian rhythms of many organisms, to name just a few of the consequences of light pollution.”

Web site of the IUCN Dark Skies Advisory Group

The IUCN’s official mission is “to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.”

Members of the IUCN include the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, US Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior National Park Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, and hundreds of other federal, state and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and land trusts

Naturally-The Sierra Club supports the proposed lighting ordinances in Norman.

It is imperative that all Sierra Club members attend this important meeting to ensure that the proposed lighting ordinance remains effective and is even strengthened.

We also continue to urge Sierra Club members to individually contact their council members and the mayor asking them to adopt this ordinance as it is currently proposed or even strengthening the ordinance. Contact information including email addresses are located here for council members: http://www.ci.norman.ok.us/content/city-council and here for the mayor: http://www.ci.norman.ok.us/content/mayor.


 “Dark Skies” Might Be a Hard Sell in Oklahoma 6 14 11 pdf

Utopia Versus Eutopia

by Daniel Hager

Utopianism has a long-running history
that includes turning the 1900s into
the bloodiest century in human experience.
Typically utopian schemes are founded on the premise that individual self interest must be subjugated for the purported
greater public good.

Who’s Really Getting “Green” in Oklahoma? Local Governments for Sustainability

“Private property and freedom are inseparable.” – George Washington


Harvey Ruvin, Vice Chair of the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI),and Clerk of the Circuit and County Court in Miami-Dade County, Florida, has said that

“individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective” in the process of implementing Sustainable Development.”

From “What is Sustainable Development?”

Taxpayer Dollars and Foundation Grants Help a U.N.-Inspired Group
Show U.S. Cities How to Enact Climate Change Policies

“ICLEI- Local
Governments for Sustainability” is a 501(c)
(3) nonprofi t created by a U.N. conference.
Now it’s offering advice to local politicians
and recruiting “strategic partners” to build
pressure for municipal energy regulation” Says The Capitol Research Center.

The City of Edmond is hosting  a Sustainability forum tonight at 6pm.

“Over 1200 cities, towns, counties, and their associations worldwide comprise ICLEI’s growing membership. ICLEI works with these and hundreds of other local governments through international performance-based, results-oriented campaigns and programs”

First of all, what is ICLEI?

It is an United Nations Environmental Program

International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)

Also Known As:

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

“ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations who have made a commitment to sustainable development.  ICLEI provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. Our basic premise is that locally designed initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives.”

“ICLEI was founded in 1990 as the “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives”.  The Council was established when more than 200 local governments from 43 countries convened at our inaugural conference, the World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future, at the United Nations in New York.

ICLEI Charter 2006
“The Association shall maintain its formal institutional relationships with its founder patrons, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA), the latter from 1 January 2004 merged into the newly established World Organisation of United Cities and Local Governments.”
Find out if your city is an ICLEI city-

ICLEI USA Membership List

Residents of cities investing in the ICLEI plan will be relentlessly treated to the upsides of participation, but what are the true implications?

From Freedoms Advocates;

While some of these policies sound good on the surface, they result in consequences such as:

  • High-density housing scams
  • Traffic congestion
  • Open space where access is not allowed
  • Government “partnering” with favored private businesses and non-profit agencies, using your tax money
  • Undermining Constitutional administration of government
  • Managed control over your life
  • Mismanagement of public utilities
  • Prohibitions on natural resource management leading to increased fire hazards, lack of water, and private property restrictions,
  • Increased taxes, fees, regulations and restrictions

Here very good outline of basic steps you can take to find out more about ICLEI and what you can do to oppose ICLEI in your city-

And here is more information on downsides of this plan for “sustainability” collected from various sources;

The American Thinker

UN Agenda 21 – Coming to a Neighborhood near You

Most Americans are unaware that one of the greatest threats to their freedom may be a United Nations program known as Agenda 21. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development created Agenda 21 as a sustainability agenda which is arguably an amalgamation of socialism and extreme environmentalism brushed with anti-American, anti-capitalist overtones.

The American Policy Center

In his book, Earth in the Balance, Al Gore warned that a “wrenching transformation” must take place to lead America away from the “horrors of the Industrial Revolution.” The process to do that is called Sustainable Development and its’ roots can be traced back to a UN policy document called Agenda 21, adopted at the UN’s Earth Summit in 1992.

Sustainable Development calls for changing the very infrastructure of the nation, away from private ownership and control of property to nothing short of central planning of the entire economy – often referred to as top-down control. Truly, Sustainable Development is designed to change our way of life.

Many are now finding non-elected regional governments and governing councils enforcing policy and regulations. As these policies are implemented, locally-elected officials are actually losing power and decision-making ability in their own communities. Most decisions are now being made behind the scenes in non-elected “sustainability councils” armed with truckloads of federal regulations, guidelines, and grant money.

In fact, a recent study reported that elected city councils and commissioners have lost approximately 10% of their legislative power during the past 10 years, while, through the consensus process, the power of private groups called Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has increased by as much as 300%. It is a wrenching transformation, indeed.

Read More

Lots of information and resources here;

Concerned Citizens Against ICLEI

and Here-ICLEI Primer: Your Town and Freedom Threatened /Freedom Advocates

And finally a small collection of documents regarding Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development

City of Edmond Planning Department to Hold Sustainability Forum, Wants Feedback.

Edmond Oklahoma is an ICLEI City

——————————————————Got property?

Want Property?

Like to keep it?


In Brief

ICLEI Primer: Your Town and Freedom Threatened

Right now, in your town and neighborhood, policies are being implemented that will ultimately eliminate your freedoms and destroy your way of life. You need to know what’s going on to stop this process. Many town officials are selling us out to global regional development with help from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI): Local Governments for Sustainability. ICLEI is used as one of the mechanisms to undo the political recognition of unalienable rights.

ICLEI uses the false premise and outright lies of anthropogenic global warming to change our way of life, for the worse!

ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability promotes Local Action 21, Local Agenda 21 and other United Nations programmes implemented through local town councils, planners, mayors and local governments.

ICLEI Primer-read more



Monday Dec 6, 2010 6pm

28 E. Main.

Edmond Community Center

City of Edmond Planning Department to Hold Sustainability Forum

Edmond Planning Department wants feedback on Edmond’s first Sustainability Plan

Issued: November 18, 2010

The City of Edmond Planning Department wants to hear the public’s ideas and priorities to be included in Edmond’s first Sustainability Plan.  The Edmond Sustainability Forum will be held on Monday, December 6th at 6PM at the Downtown Community Center.

The City has been awarded nearly a million dollars in Recovery Act funds from the US Department of Energy and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Staff developed a strategy for allocating those funds, which included the development of the Edmond Sustainability Plan. The remainder of the funds is being spent on energy saving technologies for city facilities and water wells, CNG conversion kits, energy building code training and equipment for inspectors.

For more information about the forum, contact Jones at 359-4518 or go to www.Edmond.com.

Agenda 21, Sustainability-Get Informed.

If you are not quite clear on what Agenda 21 or Sustainable Development is then download this primer and read it.  You will be crystal clear on the problem when you are done.

Historically, the right to own and use private property in America has been considered to be a sacred right. This right is being usurped by government, which now dictates to private property owners how their land may – and may not – be used. This paradigm shift from sacred private property rights to government-managed land use, is a perfect example of how sustainable development is transforming America into a government-managed society.


One more thing…

The Consensus Process

In communities across America, “stakeholder” councils are being formed, or have already been formed, to advance Agenda 21 to transform cities and towns into “sustainable communities.” The “consensus process” is used to gain the appearance of public support for the principles of sustainability, applied to a particular community. The process is designed to take the public policy- making function away from elected officials and place it in the hands of non-elected officials, while giving the appearance of broad public input into the decision-making process. Read more… – The Consensus Proces…

‘The Naked Truth about TSA’s Naked Body Scanners’

Show notes, links and sources added below

**Important-Links for Resistance to the Porno Scans-

NOVEMBER 24th 2010 National Opt Out Day!

“What the TSA Isn’t Telling You” Get this flyer!

Campaign to Stop Whole Body Imaging “Naked Scans” at Airports

Stop TSA Scanners

TSA Scan This

Just for our Amusement Fun With TSA


I continue to update this page with news on the legality, safety and expert and public response to the continuing assault by our government on the basic dignity of the American public.

Nov 14th 2010-My experience handing out information to travelers at the Tulsa International Airport about the Naked Body Scanners;

TSA: “I thought maybe you might be representing a terrorist organization”

**November 2010-Latest News, EPIC files filed the opening brief in the case against the controversial full body scanner program administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

November 13, 2010

TSA Encounter at San Diego International Airport Traveler objects to being molested by TSA agent and the results of that objection.

AxXiom For Liberty

Full “Dis-Clothes-ure”

The Naked Truth about TSA’s Naked Body Scanners

Contrary to the repeated assurances of the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security, the Full Body Scanners are capable of capturing, storing and transmitting the graphically detailed,  nude images of air travelers and it real time no less!  The lie is revealed by reading the procurement specifications for the machines issued by the TSA.  These features that we were told did not exist are required.

On August 2nd EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center) announced that as a result their Open Government Lawsuit against the United States Marshals Service they discovered that the government is capturing and storing thousands of images of individuals stripped nude.  The Marshals apparently do this as a matter of routine.

Safety?  Effectiveness?  Surprise!  Our government has been less that forthright with us

On Friday Aug. 6, 2010 AxXiom for Liberty Radio show examined this issue the way the TSA examines our bodies, in detail.

Listen to the August 6, 2010 show;

Show Archive Audio Mp3



AxXiom for Liberty airs every Friday from 6-8 pm CST on


‘Naked machines’ do store and transmit images, feds admit


Oklahoma Watchdog, editor Posted: August 4, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY — A report released today at CNET News, headlined “Feds admit storing checkpoint body scan images [1]” has talk radio and the blogosphere chattering about the intrusive body scanning technology increasingly seen at airports across America.

But this report, written by Declan McCullagh for Privacy Inc, destroys the claim by the Transportation Security Administration that “scanned images cannot be stored or recorded.”

McCullagh writes: “Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.”

Read More


Recently updated list of Airport that use the scanners

You will find full-body scanners at the following US airports:




The idea of submitting to virtual strip search in exchange for the privilege of flying struck me as a lousy bargain from the get go, but after a little research, I can tell you that this proposition is one that should be outright refused for more reasons than mere modesty.

We don’t even have to venture off the government’s plantation to find evidence that demonstrates the absurdity of using these devices as a primary screening method. Dr. Brenner, a government “approved” expert now says he would have never given his approval had he been informed that the devices would be used as a primary screening method, which changes the picture entirely.

Israeli security experts, oft cited by our minders to legitimize draconian anti-terrorism measures, say the scanners are “useless” and even the UN takes issue with them based on human rights concerns.  Frankly I don’t give a tinker’s damn for the UN or Israel’s security experts.  We are talking about a program being implemented on US sovereign soil and their ideas about the proper role of government and what constitutes human rights don’t strike me as very relevant to policy development in our country. However, these government faves are useful for the purpose of demonstrating my main point which is, as I have stated, so flimsy it can easily be shredded with our governments own blunt instruments.

Show Audio Archive Mp3;


FlyerTalk.com is an excellent place to find others who are dealing with this issue, sharing  real experiences, and also support and information.

Here are a few threads from that forum that you might find interesting;

When trying to figure out where our government is coming from, never forget to follow the money.

450 Additional airports to get full-body scanners, feds say

Group slams Chertoff on scanner promotion

WASHINGTON – Since the attempted bombing of a US airliner on Christmas Day, former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff has given dozens of media interviews touting the need for the federal government to buy more full-body scanners for airports

January 2, 2010

Read more

Body Scanner Manufacturer Accompanies Obama on Trip to India

November 14, 2010


EPIC Sues Dept. of Homeland Security, Demands Additional Documents About Airport Body Scanners

Sec. Napolitano says airport full-body scanners ‘do not see everything’

DHS-You Lie! Naked Body Scanners cannot “store or record images”

Peek-a- Boo! “Naked Machines” Can Record, Store and Transmit Images

‘Naked machines’ headed for airports Oklahoma Watchdog Reports

EPIC is a great source of information

Whole Body Imaging Technology and Body Scanners  EPIC -the Electronic Privacy Information Center

READ THIS! The first 20 pages of this filing are very enlightening.

EPIC v DHS  Emergency motion to suspend Full Body Scanner program

EPIC points out that;

“The TSA required that the scanners be designed to capture, store, and transfer detailed, three-dimensional images of individuals’ naked bodies.

TSA Office of Security Technology System Planning and Evaluation, Procurement Specifications for Whole Body Imager Devices for Checkpoint Operations, Sept. 23, 2008 (“TSA Procurement Specifications Document”) at 5 (stating “When in Test Mode, the [body scanner]: shall allow exporting of image data in real time; … shall provide a secure means for high-speed transfer of image data; [and] shall allow exporting of image data (raw and reconstructed),,);  Read the  TSA Procurement Specs for Full Body Scanners 2008

Senators ask Marshals Service why it stores images of full-body scans

November 2010-

The Latest from EPIC- the Electronic Privacy Information Foundation

EPIC Says TSA’s Program Violates Travelers’ Right

WASHINGTON, DC – On November 1, 2010 the Electronic Privacy

Information Center (EPIC) filed the opening brief in the case against the controversial full body scanner program administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

Read EPIC’s opening brief here


Two types of scanners in use: The Millimeter Wave and Backscatter.

What will happen if you decline the naked machine?

The latest;

Naked Body Scanner-Do Not Want!

Oct 15, 2010

Pilot to TSA: ‘No Groping Me and No Naked Photos’

Nov 11. 2010

Radio Show Host manhandled upon opting out

“Today, there are 134 imaging technology units in use at 38 airports. But by next year and beyond, 1,000 of them will likely be deployed around the country.” Source the  St. Petersburg Times Airport body scanners reveal all, but what about when it’s your kid?

The Millimeter Wave scanner This is probably the one you’ll find at airport right now, since there are 40 of them scattered around the 19 US airports with full=body scanning technology. It appears like a giant cylindrical phonebooth, with mostly clear glass walls and scanning panels that move around you.

How it works: This machine emits small radio waves that pass through your clothing and returns with images of the body underneath. Human skin is all they want to show up, and anything that is not human skin is cause for alarm. Because the panels move around you, this scan can take up to 40 seconds and there is a zoom option. This is the machine that reveals most bodily detail…

The Backscatter scanner These are one their way to more US airports, with 150 or more scheduled to show up in US airports in 2010. It’s not as cool-looking as the millimeter wave’s circular glass contraption; you’re effectively standing between two giant boxes, with your hands up. But what those boxes are doing is the cool part…

How it works: Two low-level X-rays of you are taken within twenty seconds. If the electromagnetic waves are absorbed, then you’re good to go, but if you’re hiding foreign objects, then those items will reflect the rays and be visible in the scan. Radiation is not a concern; the amount you’ll absorb is the same you get exposed to during everyday life. Images from this sort of full-body scanner appear more skeletal than fleshy, and you’ll probably not be able to recognize your own face.

So let’s say you’ve arrived at one of the airports that has full-body scanners and you’re waiting in line to go through security to reach your flight gate. You notice that they are sending the line through the massive machines, and you’re concerned about your privacy or radiation or whatever, and you wonder: do you really have to go through a full-body scan? The quick answer is yes and no…

YES you should go through the full-body scanner.
Notice that we used the word “should” there, because going through one of the machines is not compulsory. Still, if you stay in line and don’t pipe up and take your turn showing your goodies virtually to the TSA, then the lines move quicker and you get to your gate faster and (hopefully) without arousing the suspicion and alarm of security agents.

NO you shouldn’t go through the full-body scanner.
Currently—because they haven’t quite nailed down whether or not to force people to go through a full-body scan where available—it is your right to decline the full-body scan. The TSA cannot make you go into the machine if you say no, and there is an argument for saying no and therefore protesting the use of these machines.

If you say no to a full-body scan, be warned that you are then submitting yourself to a physical pat-down. Usually the TSA will honor your request for a female or male agent based on your gender, but if it’s busy and they’re stressed and short-staffed and you look suspicious, then don’t expect that courtesy. Anyone who denies a body scan is subject to advanced screening.

Read more

Ready for the Enhanced Pat Down?

Read This Lady’s Description


Think you are the only one who finds being digitally strip searched by the TSA objectionable?  Think again.

U.S. air travelers complain about body scans

The Transportation Security Administration, releasing the documents after a Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said air travelers lodged more than 600 complaints over use of the machines in the past year.  READ MORE


Giggle Break-Kip Hawley is an Idiot


Why the LIES?

DHS has told the public repeatedly that the scanners “could not store or record images.” “The image cannot be stored transmitted or printed and is deleted permanently after each passenger has been screened”

“TSA has adjusted device to ease privacy concerns”

They’ve turned down the intensity a bit so some of the images under the clothes will be fuzzy,” he said. “They’ve also remotely located the person viewing the images so that person can’t associate the image with the passenger. We don’t have any capability to store or to print any of these images.”


Documents obtained from the TSA show that the agency specifications require the machines to have the ability to store and transmit images


-EPIC v. Homeland Security: Government has Over 2,000 Photos from Airport Body Scanners

As a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, EPIC has obtained hundreds of pages of documents from the Department of Homeland Security about the plan to deploy full body scanners in US airports. A letter to EPIC reveals that the government agency possesses about 2,000 body scanner photos


PIC FOIA – Feds Save Thousands of Body Scan Images

In an open government lawsuit against the United States Marshals Service, EPIC has obtained more than one hundred images of undressed individuals entering federal courthouses. The images, which are routinely captured by the federal agency, prove that body scanning devices store and record images of individuals stripped naked. The 100 images are a small sample of more than 35,000 at issue in the EPIC lawsuit. EPIC has pursued  but the DHS refuses to release the images it has obtained. EPIC has also filed suit to stop the deployment of the machines in US airports.

-The TSA’s own documents show that the FBS devices also have profound technical flaws that allow the machines to be breached and create the risk that sensitive traveler images could be leaked. These devices run Windows XPe, which contains security vulnerabilities.

The FBS devices are designed to transfer information via highly transportable and easily concealable USB devices. Per TSA Procurement Specifications Document


The TSA claims that passengers have an option to receive a pat down as an alternative screening rather than submit to the body scanning device.


-EPIC states;

-As a matter of pattern, practice and policy, the TSA requires air travelers to submit to FBS searches once they have entered the security zone in airports.

-The TSA does not, in practice, offer air travelers an alternative to FBS searches in airports equipped with FBS devices

-This assertion is backed by hundreds of complaints sent to the TSA stating that passengers were informed of no option or their treatment by the TSA effectively gave them no alternative

Video of the enhanced pat down:


Are the scanners effective in detecting liquid, powder or other low density explosives?

You might assume so since DHS ramped up placement of these devices following the Dec 25th “underwear bombing” attempt and justified the plans on the premise that the scanners could prevent such a situation in the future. (**Note to self-judging from its track record, it is much safer to assume that the government is lying to us.)

-As a result of the failed Flight 253 terrorist incident — Congressional hearings earlier this year revealed that the public has been routinely deceived about the incident since it happened — last Christmas day, the government announced that every airport in the U.S. will eventually be using full body scanners, allegedly as a precautionary security measure, regardless of privacy concerns

Officials tell us that all security measures were followed and that the only reason Captain Underpants got passed security was that there were no naked scanners that would have revealed his crotch bomb.


Let’s just take a look at some things that should have garnered extra attention from the TSA and airport security:

  • According to eye witnesses, he had no passport, and the only reason he was allowed on the plane was because an accomplice who was with him managed to convince an airline employee that Abdulmutuallah was a political refugee from Sudan.

If you think that any of these might be cause for suspicion, you’re not alone. In fact, the TSA would agree with you, because as it turns out, even before the attempted bombing, TSA officials were actually waiting to question Abdulmutuallah when he landed in Detroit. Abdulmutuallah had clearly had triggered something in the security system, and the TSA and airport security simply weren’t fast enough to act upon it.

Read More


EPIC states;

-The FBS devices employed by the TSA are not designed to detect powdered explosives, such as pentaerythritol tetranitrate (“PETN”)-the explosive used in the attempted December 25, 2009 bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253.


GAO: No formal testing for whole-body scanners

Ability to detect weapons and explosives. The Government Accountability Office said in March that it “remains unclear” whether the machines would have detected the explosives in the underwear of a man who allegedly tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet bound for Detroit on Christmas Day.

-QinetiQ said the technology probably wouldn’t have detected the Christmas day underwear bomb. Neither would the scanners have caught the explosives from the 2006 airliner liquid bomb plot, nor the explosives used in the 2005 London Tube train bombing.–The body scanners aren’t very useful for detecting liquids and plastics http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/01/06/5-reasons-body-scanners-might-not-solve-our-terrorism-problem/

Full body scanners can’t see inside your body .  In September, an Al Qaeda suicide bomber hid explosives in his rectum in an attempt to kill a Saudi Prince

Full-body scanners are waste of money, Israeli expert says

A leading Israeli airport security expert says the Canadian government has wasted millions of dollars to install “useless” imaging machines at airports across the country.

“I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747,” Rafi Sela told parliamentarians probing the state of aviation safety in Canada.

“That’s why we haven’t put them in our airport,” Sela said, referring to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, which has some of the toughest security in the world.

-Brian Sullivan and Steve Elson, two former Federal Aviation Administration security agents, say the machines are ineffective for finding explosives and preventing a terrorist from smuggling explosives on board an aircraft.

-Billie Vincent, the FAA‘s former security director, says the machines “incrementally improve” on metal detectors if TSA agents alertly resolve identified threats. source USA Today

The British Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office tested the new 3D scanners thoroughly and found that while they were relatively accurate in catching high-density materials that pat-downs missed (such as knives, box-cutters, or other problem items), they failed to detect most low-density items, including bags of liquid.


We are told that the scanners are absolutely safe.

TSA states; “Millimeter wave technology is safe for all travelers including children and pregnant women. The radio frequency energy it transmits is 10,000 times less than an average cell phone.”

TRUTH-Experts disagree, the jury is still out, no long term studies have been done.

It’s true: Airport body scanners could give you cancer

Oct 18, 2010

The new, full-body security scanners being introduced at airports pose a greater skin cancer risk than governments have previously acknowledged and are especially dangerous to children and pregnant women, a new study has found.

Read  More

-Radiation dose actually 20 times higher than Official estimate

-The concentration on the skin — one of the most radiation-sensitive organs of the human body — means the radiation dose is actually 20 times higher than the official estimate according to David Brenner, head of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research.

-Dr. Brenner, who was consulted to write guidelines for the security scanners in 2002, claims he would not have signed the report had he known the devices would be so widely used.

-UCSF (Nobel Laureats, Professor Emeritus Biochem and Biophysics with expertise in imaging, member Nat Academy of Sciences, internationally respect cancer expert, X-ray crystallographers, imaging experts,etc) letter to Holdren;

“There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations. We are unanimous in believing that the potential health consequences need to be rigorously studied before these scanners are adopted. Modifications that reduce radiation exposure need to be explored as soon as possible”

“These negative effects may on balance far outweigh the potential benefit of increased detection of terrorists.”

The majority of their energy is delivered to the skin and the underlying tissue. Thus, while the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volumeof the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high.

The X-ray dose from these devices has often been compared in the media to the cosmicray exposure inherent to airplane travel or that of a chest X-ray. However, this comparison is very misleading

-it appears that real independent safety data do not exist.

Our colleagues at UCSF, dermatologists and cancer experts, raise specific important concerns:

  • • A) The large population of older travelers, >65 years of age, is particularly at risk from the mutagenic effects of the X-rays based on the known biology of melanocyte aging.
  • • B) A fraction of the female population is especially sensitive to mutagenesis provoking radiation leading to breast cancer. Notably, because these women, who have defects in DNA repair mechanisms, are particularly prone to cancer, X-ray mammograms are not performed on them. The dose to breast tissue beneath the skin represents a similar risk.
  • • C) Blood (white blood cells) perfusing the skin is also at risk.
  • • D) The population of immunocompromised individuals–HIV and cancer patients (see above) is likely to be at risk for cancer induction by the high skindose.
  • • E) The risk of radiation emission to children and adolescents does not appear to have been fully evaluated.
  • • F) The policy towards pregnant women needs to be defined once the theoreticalrisks to the fetus are determined.
  • • G) Because of the proximity of the testicles to skin, this tissue is at risk for sperm mutagenesis.
  • • H) Have the effects of the radiation on the cornea and thymus been determined?

A number of ‘red flags’ are related to the hardware itself

Xrays are intense but duration should be short.  Machinary glitches stopping or slowing scan, agents purposely slowing scan down to improve resolution (TSA is already complaining about low resolution)  Source:  UCSF Letter to John P. Holdren (science and tech czar) from a variety of experts expressing concern about the health risks of the TSA’s  full body scanning program.

T-rays and DNA

The technology used in the full body scanners is either backscatter x-ray or millimeter waves . Both use a form of radiation call terahertz photons (T-rays). T-rays are a form of infrared energy that lies between radio waves at the low-end and microwaves at its higher end. It may be non-ionizing unlike x-rays; however, the energy is able to penetrate tissue, clothing, paper, plastic, wood and ceramics among other things.

Alexandrov et al. at Los Alamos National Laboratory theorized that the
thermal energy given off by T-rays can damage DNA By unwinding or unzipping the double helix strands of DNA. This could possibly lead to mutations as the DNA attempts to repair itself.

“It is clear that the rush to deploy these machines may put the public at unacceptable risk.”. http://biggovernment.com/egeorge/2010/01/11/are-total-body-scanners-safe-the-jury-is-still-out/

So, let me see if I have this straight?

We have been lied to about the safety of the scanners, the capabilities of the machines, the manner in which they would be utilized, and the purpose of them.

Our government is ignoring lawfully submitted petitions and requests for information, while at the same time it is apparently disregarding legal precedent as well as statutes on top of basic constitutional law.  And in the face of criticisms and questions from the GAO, acknowledged experts and a wide variety of organizations, our officials just forge ahead as if the laws, courtesies and rules that the rest of us are expected to or forced to comply with have no bearing upon the government itself.

That seems to be the situation in a nutshell.

Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State…. Liberalism denied the State in the interests of the particular individual; Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual.–Benito Mussolini, Fascism: Fundamental Ideas

AxXiom forLiberty


BREAKING: “The Armed Citizen” Closes – Site Named in Infringement Suit

On July 21st, The Armed Citizen received an indirect and informal notice of a lawsuit against this website and its owners, David Burnett and Clayton Cramer.

The suit, reportedly filed in US District Court on July 20th, alleges that The Armed Citizen and its owners “willfully copied” and infringed on original source content from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

According to news reports, Righthaven LLC has filed lawsuits against no less than 80 other political websites and individual blogs for “infringement.”

Read More

From EFF legal and liability issues for bloggers

Getting Cozy with Etzioni Communitarian Guru

Amitai Etzioni, author of Rights and the Common Good: The Communitarian Perspective and The Limits Of Privacy is a man we should all get to know a little better.

 Amatai Etzioni-short bio-http://amitaietzioni.org/

Also The Instutute for Communitarian Policy Studies

His logic is hard to pin down which makes me question whether there is any real logic to his arguments at all.  That’s not to say that certain elements of Etzioni’s philosophy are not reasonable or even appealing.  Quite the contrary.  Many Americans will find themselves attracted to what at first glance may appear to be a sensible “middle ground”  Especially those that are thoroughly disgusted with the polarizing politics of today and herein lies the danger.

Amitai Etzioni promotes “Communitarianism” or the “Third Way”-both his chosen terms to describe and promote this belief system and he has been doing just that very effectively for some time.  I heartily recommend that anyone that finds his line of reasoning to be enticing, to apply a little “bottom line” thinking before they buy stock in it. 

Amitai Etziono is a former member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Etzioni’s signature pops up on resolutions passed by the PNAC (Project for a New American Century) and various elite international conferences on global policing. Etzioni co-founded the new science of socio-economics with the former President of the Soviet Union (Mikhail Gorbachev, Green Cross International). Self-labled as a “guru” of communitarian morality, he also lectures and performs government “studies” for the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, hosted by George Washington University (GWU) in Washington D.C. –Niki Raapani


 When reduced to its essence, the Third Way asks us to lose our attachment to respecting the inherent rights of the individual, an ideal we have never fully realized, but one that we ought never abandon either. 


I’m in agreement that we are all in this together and prefer to work in a harmonious and cooperative environment, just like most sensible folks.  But when conflict arises there are a few things that I am not willing to compromise on.  Life, Liberty and Property sum up nicely that which I consider mine alone not subject to the brand of “compromise” Mr. Etzioni espouses. 

The Democratic Leadership Council that gushes about the glory of Third Way thinking also adores the idea of “Universal Service” In a manically excited promo for the book “How America can Win” they posted;

One of the book’s contributors, William A. Galston, even suggests making national service compulsory, like the wartime draft. Marshall and Magee, in the chapter excerpted here, argue for keeping the program voluntary, but using the Selective Service System as one of its recruiting devices. http://www.dlc.org/ndol_ci.cfm?kaid=115&subid=145&contentid=253462

Voluntary service is so fabulous that they don’t mind the thought of making it mandatory or at the very least, a coerced committment.  I have some fabulous ideas too, ones that have enriched my life immensely but the thought of forcing you to adopt my salvation is singularly abhorrent!  Communitarians have no such qualms.  Read it yourself.  I cannot stop gagging over that into long enough to be receptive to any of the merits of their proposals. 

When speaking of the exalted “community” which is nothing more that a collection of individuals, I have yet to experience a situation when one or more members of my “community” pushed my generosity so far as to demand that I must give to them any of my three most essential possessions.  I have willingly shared these treasures at times but never have I allowed them to be taken from me.  The members of my “community”  barring a fit of madness, would not dare to attempt to cadge a cup of my life, liberty or property because A) they do operate on the good old fashioned Golden Rule and hesitate to ask for more that they would be willing to give and B) fear the consequences of pushing the issue too far.  By contrast, the only ones who have the audacity to demand such sacrifice from me is the faceless “groups” and non-persons we call “government”  This does not represent  what I consider my community rather it represents a coercive force, a band of empowered thieves and ruffians.  What Etziono couches in soothing language is the idea that our essential, human rights must be limited or sacrificed for the good of this mythological “community”  Please see that the very real and present group of individuals that you work and live with is not the “community’ this man speaks of.  he is asking you to sacrifice the essential elements of your humanity to an armed collective that has no claim or connection to your very real grouping of peers.

Etzionis “community” is a false front for the same old, tired band of would be tyrants our forefathers risked all to remove themselves from.  The cold, unfeeling and distant rulers who caused such awful strife of spirit that they were willing to risk their physical life for the chance of shedding.

For any person that knows that there is no humanity in being denied there right to exercise their judgment over their own life direction and to keep the property traded for their labor and ingenuity, the Third Way will not bedazzle their eyes at all, but for the people who have not realized the essence of their humanity or who have internalized their own victimization to the degree that they believe themselves to be truly without power, it might appear to be the deal of a lifetime.

Read the Communitarian’s Platform Position regarding Domestic Disarmament;


In any event, be sure to give this re-furbished Faustian bargain a thorough, intellectual trial run before you take it home because it operates on a “no returns” policy.

No matter what you believe in, this concept will ultimately usurp your right to live according to your beliefs.  Communitarians assume the moral high ground and their goals do not bow to quaint notions of individualism.  As readily as any can find a stance taken by advocates of the “Third Way” that they agree with, a major point of contention will emerge in the next sentence they utter.  One can only conclude that any policy that disrespect the rights of any will certainly pose a threat to all-in time.

Partisanship got you down? Etzioni Reccomends a “Third Way”


“In short, the conservatives’ well of ideas may well have run dry, but the American majority has hardly turned liberal. True, many of the conservatives are fiscal and not social conservatives; hence stem cell research, women’s rights, and the environment may do well. However, a return to grand social programs for the poor and the minorities, of extensive regulation of capitalism (Wall Street, the oil companies, and banks for instance), the liberalism of Kennedy and Johnson, not to mention of Humphrey and Como, faces many more hurdles. “

“Is there a third way that may guide the new administration? Could the most compelling ideas be neither conservative nor liberal but communitarian?”


Back in 1997 this exceptionally perceptive Brit examines Etzioni and asks the question;

Should we Live this way?

You can tell.  She ain’t buying.

              Communitarians say we have too much freedom. Joan Smith takes issue with their guru

Joan Smith

Sunday, 22 June 1997

He has met Tony Blair, lunched with Paddy Ashdown and dined with Conservative MPs. Newspapers, notably the Times and the Guardian, give him generous space to air his views and promote his book, out on Tuesday.* When he took part in a discussion earlier this month at the London School of Economics, where he has just completed a visiting lectureship, the event was chaired by Geoff Mulgan, director of the think-tank Demos and a Blair insider.

Without being a household name, Amitai Etzioni is a man with friends in high places. Of course, listening is not the same as doing, but some of his admirers, including his publisher, Profile Books, claim his influence is visible in the re-writing of Clause IV of New Labour’s aims and values. This may be overstating the case but its reference to “community” and “common endeavours”, and anemphasis on duties as well as rights, is much in line with Etzioni’s thinking.

So who is Amitai Etzioni? A German-born sociologist, he is a professor at George Washington University. He is best known, however, as one of the founders of communitarianism. He set out his philosophy four years ago in a best-selling book, The Spirit of Community Rights, Responsibilities and the Communitarian Agenda, which got fawning reviews in America, not least from President Clinton.

“Thank you very much, Dr Etzioni,” Clinton gushed, and promptly appointed him policy adviser – overlooking the fact that Etzioni held a similar post in 1979, a year before Jimmy Carter lost the Presidency. “Thank you for the inspiration that your work has given to me and to so many others, [and] for your wonderful book. There are no institutions really for bringing us all together, across the lines that divide us, in our common cause of building what is good about America and building up what is good within the character of our people.”

Communitarians are keen on this kind of language, although here it has uncomfortable echoes of doomed crusades like Moral Re-armament in the 1930s. Indeed, Etzioni’s Italian-sounding name is his own invention and reflects his commitment to moral values. He was born Werner Falk in 1929, shortly before his family fled from the Nazis to the Middle East. His father was a Zionist businessman and the name his son chose combines an almost comical high-mindedness – amitai is the Hebrew word for truth – with the name of a region of Israel whose central four letters spell out the family’s creed (EtZIONi).

As a teenager, Etzioni smuggled Jewish refugees into Palestine, joined the Israeli commandos and fought against the British in 1948 – an experience he recalls as embodying communitarian ideals of decency and the common good: “I have no grim memories of my time in the Haganah fighting the British. We had a lot of gentlemen’s agreements in the way that we waged that conflict. When my unit of the Haganah blew up the British radar station at Haifa, we warned them beforehand so they could evacuate it.”

Etzioni studied under Martin Buber, whose books advocate co-operation and limits on self-interest, at university in Israel before arriving in the US to study philosophy in 1957. He married and had five sons, though he became a de facto single parent after his wife was killed in a car crash when the youngest child was 11. His formative years in an embattled culture with a strong emphasis on family values, and in a nascent state surrounded by enemies, go a long way towards explaining his apocalyptic vision – and remedies which his critics regard as authoritarian in effect, if not in intention.

Etzioni’s analysis of what has gone wrong in the West is a classic example of fin-de-siecle moral panic: we are suffering from “rampant moral confusion and social anarchy. We often cannot tell right from wrong – or cannot back up what we do believe in.” His argument is that we have too much freedom and not enough responsibilities: “We should, for a transition period of, say, the next decade, put a tight lid on the manufacturing of new rights,” he writes.

If this sounds like a peculiarly American analysis, a reaction to expensive lawsuits over spilt coffee, it has to be said that it has resonance in Britain. In Connexity, Geoff Mulgan argues that “in much of the world today the most pressing problems on the public agenda are not poverty or material shortage… but rather the disorders of freedom: the troubles that result from having too many freedoms that are abused rather than constructively used”; a message he is well placed, from his new office in the No 10 policy unit, to urge on members of the Government.

Communitarians disdain economic explanations for bad behaviour, whether we are talking about high crime levels or “the fact that people with sufficient spending power tend to overeat”, to take one of Mulgan’s idiosyncratic examples. They focus instead on moral decline and the collapse of the family. Etzioni’s big idea is the “parenting deficit”, which has allegedly led to most of the ills that beset us.

Imagine parenting as an industry, Etzioni writes. “Over the past 20 years, millions of American mothers have sharply curtailed their work in the parenting industry by moving to work outside the home.” This exodus, he claims, has had dire effects, a failure of “effective personality formation” in infants and a reliance on child care facilities which are sometimes no more than “kennels for kids”. Teenagers brought up like this are unable to say no to drugs, alcohol and premature sexual activity.

So it’s back to the home for women, and a 1950s-style division of labour? Etzioni denies it, extolling instead something called “peer marriage” – a two-parent family in which both parents have the same rights and responsibilities. But who is going to stay at home with the children, and for how long? Who pays? What if both parents want to work and believe their child care arrangements are satisfactory? Etzioni’s response is to list a series of “pro-family practices and policies”, including extended “family leave” of up to two years after a child is born. He also wants the law to be changed “not to prevent divorce, but to signal society’s concern”.

The latter is a typical fudge, and it is on this issue – how far society can go in enforcing its moral codes – that cracks begin to show. Etzioni is keen to talk about persuasion, reticent about what happens when exhortation fails. What he advocates is a social order in which the community identifies the “common good” and encourages its members to work towards it: safe driving, for example. Yet it is possible to imagine other examples in which a community endorses values like racism or homophobia.

Then there is the question of dissent. What happens when a community fails to persuade its members to conform to ideals like marriage-for- life and two-parent families? Etzioni’s answer, in his LSE lecture, was that certain arguments will succeed because they have moral force. The Chinese, he said, can laugh off comments about their failure to use knives and forks, whereas criticism of their record on human rights strikes home – a naive argument which suggests that the Second World War would not have been necessary if only someone had pointed out to Hitler that genocide is not very nice.

When Etzioni advances absurdities like these, it is hard to realise that anyone takes his work seriously. So I rang Profile Books and asked whether they could name a government policy which had been implemented as a direct result of his advice. “In the States, community policing in a pretty broad sense. In the UK, he’s had most influence on stakeholding and the new Clause IV,” was the answer.

I would have put this question to Etzioni myself, but he refused to speak to me. Two weeks ago I was invited to dinner with him where the other guests included Geoff Mulgan. When I was introduced to Etzioni, I asked whether his policies would not reinforce traditional gender roles. His reaction was volcanic. “How would you feel if I called you a fascist?” he demanded. “You’re stupid and ignorant and I’m not going to talk to you.” He stalked off, in search of more congenial companions. Communitarians, I decided, don’t prefer blondes.



Salon doubts the logic of Etzioni in 1999 


Privacy pleas

Maybe Etzioni is right about the relative weight of the threat to privacy posed by corporations, and it’s true that civil liberties groups tend to focus more on the threat posed by government. But this is because the Bill of Rights is, after all, a set of limitations on government action — in the United States at least, civil libertarians and privacy advocates have fewer legal tools they can use when the issue is commercial or nongovernmental intrusions on privacy.

In practice, this means that advocacy groups like the Privacy Rights Clearing House and the Electronic Privacy Information Center are forced to rely less on litigation and more on public statements and moral suasion when corporations act in ways that threaten privacy. (It was such public outcry/education strategies by public interest groups that compelled Intel to promise customers a way of concealing the serial numbers of PIII chips, and that forced Microsoft to provide a means of erasing the serial-number document stamp imposed by recent editions of Office.)

But even when Etzioni has a point, it’s hard to get past his paternalistic communitarian agenda. You get the feeling as you read “The Limits of Privacy” that Etzioni is only casually concerned about privacy issues per se; what he’s really interested in is vindicating the role of government. This is particularly apparent in the chapter promoting government access to encrypted communications. Here, the knowledgeable reader will find much that casts doubt on Etzioni’s understanding — not only of encryption but also of the other issues he addresses in this book.

As someone who’s been contributing to the public debate about encryption and wiretapping policy over the last seven years, I was startled to find that Etzioni gets some of the most basic details of the crypto debate spectacularly wrong. Most notably, he confuses key recovery (the holding of decryption keys by the government, sometimes referred to as “key escrow”) with public-key cryptography (crypto schemes like PGP, or Pretty Good Privacy, that depend on paired keys, one of which is freely available to the public). Absurdly, he keeps referring to the government’s policy as one of “public key recovery.” If the keys are public already, you don’t need a policy to enable the government to “recover” them.

But even if you ignore a howler like that one, you’ll be troubled by the quality of Etzioni’s analysis, which is grounded in two approaches: a) attempting to cast doubt on every argument advanced by crypto proponents and b) accepting uncritically every argument the government advances in favor of guaranteeing governmental access to private encrypted communications — especially those arguments couched in terms of the threat posed by drug dealers and terrorists who may use encryption to escape detection. (One can imagine a vastly different, vastly better, book whose author was equally skeptical of both sides of the encryption debate.)

This one-sided approach results in some peculiar blind spots. At one point Etzioni writes that “events that have a very low probability but a very high disutility (such as the terrorist scenario depicted) deserve as much public attention as those that have a relatively high probability but a relatively low disutility (e.g., the acts of individual drug dealers or pedophiles).” Here Etzioni embraces what I have called the Pascal’s Wager fallacy of the anti-encryption contingent. This fallacy derives from factoring an infinitely terrible event (the terrorist detonation of a nuclear device in Manhattan, say) into your risk calculations. The result is that, regardless of how low the probability of such an occurrence is, any measure that might prevent it is pseudomathematically justified. For all Etzioni’s talk of “balancing” rights against the collective good, he doesn’t seem to get that the balancing doesn’t work when the government gets to put its finger on the scale.

[. . .]The hidden assumption here is that the government means well, so its guaranteed access to our private communications and data is somehow more acceptable than the mere possibility (unsupported by actual evidence) that programs like Pretty Good Privacy may have a back door.

But of course that assumption is the whole ballgame. If there’s been a common theme in American political life over the last quarter-century, it has been the growing consensus on both the left and the right that the government, even when it indisputably means well, can’t be trusted with too much power.



The danger of DNA: It isn’t perfect


The danger of DNA: It isn’t perfect

By far the most reliable forensic science, it still has limits: Samples can be contaminated and may go untested for years. And collecting it may violate privacy laws.
By Maura Dolan and Jason Felch
December 26, 2008
In 2004, a New Jersey prosecutor announced that DNA had solved the mystery of who killed Jane Durrua, an eighth-grader who was raped, beaten and strangled 36 years earlier.

“Through DNA, we put a face to the killer of Jane Durrua, and that face belongs to Jerry Bellamy,” prosecutor John Kaye said.

The killer, however, turned out to be someone else.

Two years after Bellamy’s arrest, investigators discovered that evidence from the murder scene had been contaminated by DNA from Bellamy, whose genetic sample was being tested at the same lab in an unrelated case. He was freed. Another man ultimately was arrested in the killing but died before trial.

DNA has proved itself by far the most effective and reliable forensic science. Over the last two decades, it has solved crimes once thought unsolvable, brought elusive murderers and rapists to justice years after their misdeeds and exonerated the innocent. In courtrooms and in the popular imagination, it is often seen as unassailable.

But as the nation rushes to take advantage of DNA’s powers, it is becoming clear that genetic sleuthing also has significant limitations:

* Although best known for clearing the wrongfully convicted, DNA evidence has on occasion linked innocent people to crimes. In the lab, it can be contaminated or mislabeled; samples can be switched. In the courtroom, its significance has often been overstated by lawyers or misunderstood by jurors.

* The rush to collect DNA and build databases has in some cases overwhelmed the ability of investigators to process the evidence and follow up on promising leads. Some crime labs have huge backlogs of untested evidence, including thousands of rape evidence kits. In some cases, criminals who could have been caught have offended again.

* Debates have flared over civil rights and privacy, presaging possible constitutional challenges to DNA collection and storage. Critics object, for instance, to storing DNA from people arrested but not convicted of crimes and from suspected illegal immigrants.

In Britain, which has the world’s most aggressive approach to forensic DNA, a legal backlash has already begun. The European High Court of Human Rights ruled this month that the country’s indefinite storage of DNA from people merely arrested for crimes violated privacy rights. Britain has until March to submit plans for destroying samples or to make a case for keeping them.

In the U.S., authorities are plunging ahead with a dramatic databank expansion.

A California initiative passed in 2004 will permit authorities, starting in January, to store DNA from anyone arrested on suspicion of felonies and serious misdemeanors, even if they are not ultimately convicted.

California’s database is expected to swell by about 300,000 DNA profiles next year, bringing the total to 1.4 million.

The FBI’s national database, which already contains 6.4 million profiles, is projected to add about 1.3 million annually from federal arrestees and illegal immigrants alone.

Nothing to fear

When the California law, Proposition 69, passed, it was widely believed that the innocent had nothing to fear from having their genetic profiles in a database, said UC Irvine criminology professor William Thompson, considered the U.S. leading authority on DNA laboratory error.

Now, he said, “when you look at all the errors that have come to light around the world — and we’re only finding the tip of the iceberg — it really raises concerns about how many people you want to have in a database. There are certainly doubts in my mind whether I would want to be in one.”

Through the California Public Records Act, The Times obtained documents from five state-run and three county forensic labs reporting scores of laboratory errors or “unexpected” resultsover a five-year period ending in 2007. Labs must track these outcomes and keep them on file under state and federal rules.

Thompson, who reviewed the records for The Times, said that “on a regular basis, laboratory personnel make mistakes that could lead to false identifications” of suspects.

The records show, for instance, that between 2003 and 2007, the Santa Clara County district attorney’s crime laboratory caught 14 instances in which evidence samples were contaminated with staff members’ DNA, three in which samples were contaminated by an unknown person and six in which DNA from one case contaminated samples from another.

The records also revealed three instances in which DNA samples were accidentally switched, one in which analysts reported incorrect results and three mistakes in computing the statistics used in court to describe the rarity of a DNA profile.

The number reported was small considering overall caseload — 3,100 over five years — but Thompson said mistakes caught by labs “undoubtedly” make up a small fraction of errors. (In fact, he said, labs that report the most are probably better run than those that claim none.)

The leading cause of false DNA database matches is cross-contamination of samples, Thompson said.

An incident in a state-run lab in Sacramento illustrated how easily this can happen: DNA discovered on a cigarette matched the profile of a sexual assault victim from another case.

Had the assault victim smoked the cigarette? No. Cross-contamination occurred when the sample from the cigarette was processed close to the victim’s vaginal sample.

The risk of DNA contamination has “greatly increased” as scientists have learned how to obtain DNA profiles from a billionth of a gram of genetic material, according to a report last year by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in London, a group that examines developments in biology and medicine.

“The results may therefore be misleading, and yet they could be presented as powerful evidence in a courtroom. This makes it vital that defendants are not convicted on a DNA match alone,” the report said.

Jonathan Jay Koehler, a professor at Arizona State University who has studied lab error, estimated the rate of false DNA matches at about 1 in 1,000, whether they are caught or missed.

“No one would ride on an airline that crashed one out of every 1,000 flights,” he said.

Other experts counter that lab errors are rare and will be caught if the proper precautions are taken. “If they are rare enough, then we should be cold-blooded” about isolated injustices, said Charles Brenner, an Oakland-based forensic mathematician.

Jill Spriggs, chief of California’s Bureau of Forensic Services, said California’s forensic labs are among the best in the nation. “Errors are detected — if there are any — based on quality control measures that we have in place.”

Not infallible

Wrongful incriminations from DNA evidence have pierced the science’s image of infallibility. When Alan Nelson, father of a woman who had been murdered with her daughter in Australia, learned earlier this year that the wrong man had been arrested because of a contamination, he was incredulous: “I thought the DNA was 100% perfect,” Nelson told the Herald Sun, an Australian newspaper.

Despite such cases, DNA evidence holds great sway among jurors.

Dan Krane, an Ohio-based DNA expert who has testified in about 75 cases, mostly for the defense, was shaken by the conviction of Gary Leiterman, a Michigan man sentenced in 2005 to life in prison for the nearly four-decade-old murder of a law student.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Krane said. “How could that possibly have happened?”

Leiterman, a nurse, came under suspicion when the Michigan state crime lab found a “match” between his genetic profile and evidence from the murder victim’s stockings.

But DNA from a blood drop on the victim’s hand matched someone else, a man who was 4 at the time of the crime.

It turned out that DNA samples from Leiterman and the other man were being analyzed at the crime lab, as part of separate criminal cases, at about the same time as the murder evidence. Leiterman’s DNA was at the lab because of a conviction for prescription fraud. Krane, who testified on Leiterman’s behalf, said contamination was the most likely explanation for the findings.

The prosecutor had another explanation: Leiterman killed the student. He was linked to the crime by other evidence, including a handwriting sample and a gun he owned that was similar to the murder weapon.

The prosecutor admitted that the 4-year-old could not have been the killer but speculated that he might also have been at the crime scene, with a nose bleed. A jury convicted Leiterman of first-degree murder. He is appealing the verdict.

Fingering the wrong suspect can be a sign of broader sloppiness in a lab.

A Sacramento crime lab analyst had to resign two years ago after his superiors discovered he had relied on substandard DNA evidence in a rape case to produce a profile that matched an innocent man. The lab later learned the analyst had failed to check his work in dozens of other cases.

But even the most scrupulous analyst can err when interpreting complex DNA “mixtures” — samples that contain DNA from more than one person — which turn up more frequently as labs use more sensitive tests.

“If you show 10 colleagues a mixture, you will probably end up with 10 different answers,” Peter Gill, then a chief scientist with Britain’s Forensic Science Service, said at a symposium in 2005.

In a 2005 study, American laboratories that analyzed the exact same DNA mixture reported widely different statistics on the rarity of the genetic profiles of the contributors.

Estimates of how often the DNA profiles occurred in the general population ranged from 1 in 400,000 people to 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000.

In the courtroom, say some leaders in the field, the overwhelming numbers presented to jurors convey a near-certainty the science does not justify.

Serious backlog

As much as errors can hurt the wrongfully accused, victims don’t see justice served when DNA evidence goes untested.

The nation’s labs have a serious backlog of DNA crime-scene samples awaiting analysis, as many as 400,000 cases involving rapes and other violent crimes, according to Human Rights Watch.

Meanwhile, criminals are free to strike again: In Ohio, a man committed 13 more rapes while his DNA sat inside a rape kit in storage for two years.

Earlier this year the Los Angeles Police Department acknowledged a backlog of as many as 7,000 DNA crime samples. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department later admitted to having 4,727 untested sexual assault evidence kits.

Law enforcement officials blamed a lack of money and manpower. But the federal government contends that the LAPD and other agencies aren’t spending all the money they allocate for backlog reduction. For that very reason, it cut LAPD’s $1 million share of the funding in half this year.

“We have the science, we have the technology, we have the capacity to prevent rapes. And we are not using it to its fullest potential,” said Gail Abarbanel, director of the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.

Even when crime scene evidence is analyzed and a suspect identified, authorities don’t always pursue conviction.

Nationally, the FBI reported hits in the national database aided 77,791 investigations this year, but no one tracks how many result in convictions.

“Hundreds of DNA database hits languish without any follow up by law enforcement or prosecutors,” Frederick Bieber, a Harvard Medical School professor, reported in the journal American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, in 2006.

In June 2004, a DNA profile from a sexual assault in Oakland matched that of a convicted child molester. By the time police contacted the man six months later, he had molested another child.

Rockne Harmon, a former prosecutor who is a DNA consultant to the California Department of Justice, is working on a cold-hit tracking system that includes sending detectives e-mails when suspects are identified.

“I don’t find it very acceptable that we dumped all those millions of dollars [into the DNA database] and what do we get for our money?” Harmon said. “You could say we get a lot of hits, but what contribution have they made to making society a better place? I am not sure that anybody can really tell you that.”

Civil libertarians and other critics, meanwhile, fear that pursuit of DNA’s scientific potential risks trampling on the rights of the innocent.

“The ACLU opposed these databases from the beginning because we predicted this exactly,” said Tania Simoncelli, science advisor to the American Civil Liberties Union. “The database would be established for one purpose and then used for others.”

Some legal scholars say that the collection of DNA from arrestees violates the U.S. Constitution because only the convicted have forfeited their rights to privacy.

Among concerns: DNA can be tested over and over again for new information as technology advances. Innocent people theoretically could see their genomes probed without their knowledge or consent.

In Britain, such concerns have brought what Bob Green, a forensic science director in Britain’s Home Office, calls a “push back.”

Last year, Britain’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics complained that too many people were winding up on the British database for petty crimes they committed as children or for arrests that did not produce convictions.

In its ruling earlier this month, Europe’s High Court for Human Rights demanded the destruction of an estimated 850,000 DNA samples and profiles of arrestees and expressed astonishment at “the blanket and indiscriminate nature of the power” of the government to collect and retain DNA.

Even Alec Jeffreys, the British geneticist whose discovery led to DNA profiling, is dismayed by the number of juveniles and innocent people now in the database. When Jeffreys made his discovery in 1984, he figured DNA would be a tool of “the last resort” in fighting crime.

“I couldn’t have been more wrong,” he said.