First Mickey Donned Night Vision Goggles, Now Mickey Embraces GateGrope

I’ll admit, I was merely disgusted when Mickey Mouse tried to trademark Seal Team 6. But Mickey’s seeming embrace of GateGrope is far more disturbing. (h/t Bruce Schneier) In a press release boasting about changes to Walt Disney World’s Star Tour ride, Disney boasts of their imitation TSA checkpoints!

The second room of the queue is now a security check area, similar to a TSA checkpoint. The two G-series droids are still there, G2-9T scanning luggage and G2-4T scanning passengers. For those attraction junkies, you’ll remember that the G-series droids are so named because in the original Disneyland Park version of the ride, they were created by removing the “skins” from two of the goose animatronics from the soon-to-close America Sings attraction (Goose = “G” series). While we won’t tell you why, you’ll enjoy paying a lot of attention to what the scans of the luggage show is inside. When it’s your turn to go through the passenger scan (a thermal body scan), you may be verbally accosted by a security droid. Also, keep an eye out in the queue for an earlier version of RX-24 (“Captain Rex”) from the original Star Tours; he’s labeled “defective” and has some familiar dialogue.

Families are paying something like $280 a day to be amused at Walt Disney World. And as part of the amusement, they “get” to go through a “thermal body scan”?!?!?! All enhanced by the pleasure of being “verbally accosted by a security droid”!?!?!?! And all this as a way to make standing in line for obscene amounts of time to feel like a celebration of fantasy and/or capitalism rather than a pathology just like it was in the former Soviet Union?

I’m actually surprised that Schneier isn’t even more appalled at this than he is, given that he’s been as skeptical of “security theater” as anyone.

I mean, I want to know how a company with close regulatory ties to the federal government decides it will now claim it’s fun to submit to verbal abuse at the hand of what is cast as a “droid”? … How it decides either that “security scans” are such a part of our reality that no endless queue should be without one–all to help suspend our disbelief, I assume–or that a body scan is a good way to kill time in an hour-long line?

Sure, there’s a history of using Mickey Mouse to get children to accommodate security “precautions.” But do we really need to use Mickey to accustom children to RapeAScan?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. prostratedragon says:

    But do we really need to use Mickey to accustom children to RapeAScan?

    One thing I’m catching up on lately is the WWI propaganda push.* Conclusion: someone thinks “we” do. Easier to take one thing at a time than worry about why.

    ____________
    * These can be found printed and bound cheaply, but they are public domain: How we advertised America; the first telling of the amazing story of the Committee on public information that carried the gospel of Americanism to every corner of the globe ([1920]), by the CPI’s creator and chairman, George Creel; and Words that won the war; the story of the Committee on Public Information, 1917-1919 (1939), by James R. Mock and Cedric Larson. The latter is an examination of materials released to the National Archives in the mid-1930s. Mock and Larson:

    The Committee [on Public Information] was America’s “propaganda ministry” during the World War, charged with encouraging and then consolidating the revolution of opinion which changed the United States from anti-militaristic democracy to an organized war machine. This work touched the private life of virtually every man, woman, and child; it reflected the thoughts of the American people under the leadership of Woodrow Wilson; and it popularized what was for us a new idea of the individual’s relation to the state.

    and also

    The job was to keep the Wilson program [leading ultimately to U.S. military participation in WWI] before the people and to make it seem like something worth dying for.

    So the idea of corporate mass marketing and entertainment entities somehow conveying a government-directed message is hardly novel, even if the blatency of yore in the directedness of the message is not of the moment. It would be interesting to see what the public temperature is like on this kind of thing, and whether the Mouse would be willing to backtrack.

  2. Deep Harm says:

    Disney has a long history of helping the government get its messages out.

    This one is unlike the others because it is not restricted to words but potentially is putting children physically in harm’s way. As a propaganda ploy, that would be quite devious.

    On the other hand, Disney theme parks have, since the 9/11 attacks, been viewed as a likely target of terrorists, so the company has an honest incentive to exercise caution. That does not, however, excuse implementing any security measure that comes to mind. The setup described sounds pretty obnoxious and the technology is still surrounded by question marks.

    Unquestionably, Disney is hoping that children will pressure their parents to go along with the security regime. (And children are such effective nags, aren’t they?) But, it’s also possible that parents will decide to take their entertainment dollars elsewhere, making this a risky decision for Disney.

  3. Quebecois says:

    From the immortal words of Debbie Downer:

    Oh, hi, Pluto. It must really be fun working at Disney. Although at any major theme park, you live under the constant threat of terrorist attacks.

  4. PeasantParty says:

    People, please remember there are NO SAFE LEVELS of radiation on humans.

    Also, please remember that the rays you get are also the same rays your small little child gets! Keep it mind. Want to hand it back to the corporations for this? BOYCOTT!

  5. bell says:

    walt disney is being used for propaganda purposes… condition young kids to get used to body scans and all the rest of the bullshit so that they grow up to think invasion of privacy is normal… anything to prop up a country that is clearly headed in the wrong direction.. it will get full support from some of the props that have made it what it is over the years – hollywood and disneyland etc. etc. being a few of them…

  6. speakingupnow says:

    All of these actions bring about a new “normal” where children are taught at an early age to expect such things as body scans. In a few more years, the only ones left who will question this police state and on-going loss to privacy rights will be the “old hippies”. Eventually, with the changes in “social programs”, even they won’t be a problem. A sad turn indeed…

    • bobschacht says:

      In a few more years, the only ones left who will question this police state and on-going loss to privacy rights will be the “old hippies”.

      …and the Libertarians.

      Bob in AZ

      • speakingupnow says:

        One of the problems I see with the “libertarian” response is their total belief in “individual rights” over anything which supposedly smacks of “socialism” in their minds. So, instead of recognizing the benefits of groups (which is a form of being social) such as unions or how we have greater power in numbers than individually, there appears to be too much concentration on “how does this affect me personally”. If the libertarians start recognizing that they are part of a larger society as a whole, then they will begin to have a real impact on these issues.

        • PJEvans says:

          If the libertarians start recognizing that they are part of a larger society as a whole, then they will begin to have a real impact on these issues.

          I think you mean ‘a real positive impact‘. They’re having an impact now, but it isn’t good for society.

        • bobschacht says:

          Your points about Libertarians are all good, but I’m viewing this as kind of a pendulum swing: The pendulum has swung so far in the direction of Executive Power (at the expense of individual Constitutional rights) that we need someone or something to get the pendulum going in the other direction. And a finely nuanced push from the Left has gotten zero traction. It may take the blunt object of Libertarianism, or a Republican party that remembers its value of individual rights (now obliterated by the Republican’s Corporate obsequiousness and their “Right to make every pregnant woman have her baby no matter what” wing).

          Bob in AZ

  7. bobschacht says:

    Welcome to the Corporatist world that Huxley and Orwell warned us about. The Disney “amusements” are another way to make us comfortable as cogs in the Corporatist machine. In their plans, *we* are the droids, programmed to do their bidding.

    Its enough to make be become a Libertarian. Well, almost. I’m good with about half of the Libertarian program, and devoutly opposed to the other half.

    Bob in AZ

  8. waynec says:

    Two weeks ago, I took my daughter and her friend on a day trip to San Francisco.
    We went on a 20 minute boat trip that took us to Alcatraz.
    BUT!
    before we were allowed to board the boat we had to under-go a TSA security check! I kid you not.
    What a F*cking joke.
    Tell me how we were a threat to Nat’l Security.
    Talk about having priorities askew.

  9. MadDog says:

    OT stuff – Pakistan’s Dawn news site has some very interesting Wikileaks cable coverage:

    Dawn Presents WikiLeaks’ Pakistan Papers

    Among the Wikileaks US Islamabad Embassy cables is this one from October 2009:

    Pakistan Army Ghq Again Approves Embedding

    …SUBJECT: (S) PAKISTAN ARMY GHQ AGAIN APPROVES EMBEDDING

    U.S. SPECIAL FORCES PERSONNEL TO SUPPORT MILITARY OPERATIONS

    REF: ISLAMABAD 2116

    Classified By: Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, Reasons 1.4 (a)(b)(c), and (d)

    ¶1. (S) Summary: The Pakistani Army has for just the second time approved deployment of U.S. special operation elements to support Pakistani military operations. The first deployment, with SOC(FWD)-PAK elements embedded with the Frontier Corps in XXXXXXXXXXXX, occurred in September (reftel). Previously, the Pakistani military leadership adamantly opposed letting us embed our special operations personnel with their military forces. The developments of the past two months thus appear to represent a sea change in their thinking. End Summary.

    ¶2. (S) Pakistan Army General Headquarters (GHQ) informed ODRP that it approved a request from the Army’s 11 Corps Commander, Lt. General Masood Aslam, for U.S. SOC(FWD)-PAK personnel to deploy to XXXXXXXXXXXX South Waziristan and XXXXXXXXXXXX North Waziristan, in the FATA, in order to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) support and general operational advice to the 11 Corps’ XXXXXXXXXXXX. The 11 Corps had informally approached ODRP about our providing such support approximately one week ago; ODRP responded positively.

    ¶3. (S) SOC(FWD)-PAK support to 11 Corps would be at the XXXXXXXXXXXX and would include a live downlink of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) full motion video. SOC(FWD)-PAK’s initial CONOPs envision deployment of six personnel each to XXXXXXXXXXXX. In order to finalize our planning and obtain formal go-ahead from CENTCOM, ODRP has requested additional information on the timing and purpose of the 11 Corps’ planned military operations from Brigadier General Amjad Shabbir, the Army’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO).

    ¶4. (S) This is just the second time that GHQ has approved deployment of U.S. special operations elements to support Pakistani military operations. In September 2009, four SOC(FWD)-PAK personnel who were embedded with the Frontier Corps (FC) at XXXXXXXXXXXX in the FATA, provided ISR for an FC operation (reftel). This support was highly successful, enabling the FC to execute a precise and effective artillery strike on an enemy location.

    ¶5. (S) In recent days, the FC informally approached ODRP for a repeat deployment of SOC(FWD)-PAK personnel to XXXXXXXXXXXX. SOC(FWD)-PAK is preparing a CONOP while the FC obtains approval from GHQ.

    ¶6. (S) Comment: U.S. special operation elements have been in Pakistan for more than a year, but were largely limited to a training role. The Pakistani Army leadership previously adamantly opposed letting us embed U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) with their military forces to support their operations. The recent approval by GHQ — almost certainly with the personal consent of Chief of Army Staff General Kayani — for SOC(FWD)-PAK deployments to XXXXXXXXXXXX appears to represent a sea change in Pakistani thinking. Patient relationship-building with the military is the key factor that has brought us to this point. The Pakistanis are increasingly confident that we do not have ulterior motives in assisting their operations. In addition, the direct recipients of SOC(FWD)-PAK training appear to have recognized the potential benefits of bringing U.S. SOF personnel into the field with them for operational advice and other support. In addition, the success of the initial deployment to XXXXXXXXXXXX likely helped catalyze the follow-up requests for new and repeat support.

    ¶7. (S) Comment Continued: These deployments are highly politically sensitive because of widely-held concerns among the public about Pakistani sovereignty and opposition to allowing foreign military forces to operate in any fashion on Pakistani soil. Should these developments and/or related matters receive any coverage in the Pakistani or U.S. media, the Pakistani military will likely stop making requests for such assistance. End Comment.

    ISLAMABAD 00002449 002 OF 002

    PATTERSON…

    Additional OT stuff – The Sunday Times via The Australian:

    ‘CIA mole guided’ SEALs to Osama bin Laden

    THE US Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden were carrying a pocket guide to the occupants of his compound that was so detailed it suggests the CIA may have had a mole inside.

    The document, left behind in the compound and obtained by The Sunday Times, lists the names and ages of those who were present, including bin Laden’s wives, children and grandchildren.

    It details where they lived in the compound and when some of them arrived. It also suggests bin Laden had fathered twins in the compound. It refers to “two unidentified children” born this year to his youngest wife Amal, 28.

    Even the clothing worn by the 54-year-old al-Qa’ida leader is described. “Always wears light-coloured shawal (sic) kameez with a dark vest,” it says. “Occasionally wears light-coloured prayer cap.”

    The document raises new questions about how bin Laden was tracked down in what President Barack Obama described as “one of the greatest intelligence successes in American history”…

    …The document, which is said to have been carried by all the SEALs on the mission, indicates US intelligence was certain of his presence…

    …Some Pakistani officials say the briefing points to the presence of a mole in the compound.

    “I think someone from inside may have given information,” said Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister and former head of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency. “If the Americans didn’t have definitive information, they couldn’t have gone straight to the room where bin Laden was…”

    [snip]

    …The two elder Saudi wives have accused Amal, who is from Yemen, of betraying bin Laden, either by supplying information or by allowing herself to be tracked to the compound…

    …The document also bears details that suggest there may be more to the story of how bin Laden was tracked down…

    …”It is quite possible a false or partial narrative was given of how bin Laden was found,” said a CIA official. “Intelligence can only function in silence and in the dark – protecting source and method is very important…”

      • behindthefall says:

        Apparently Sa:Po, the “Safety Police” (think something along the lives of the FBI) caught the CIA carrying out anti-terrorist operations on Swedish soil, something that the Swedes, at least, deem illegal.

        Need more? I could translate the rest if it seems important to do so.

        BTW: tech staff: I’m starting to get really cheesed off that I can’t comment using Opera. I might go Galt and deprive the world of my occasional comments. Terrible prospect, eh?

        • mzchief says:

          I use Firefox and it works. I ditched MicroSerf OS and software especially given the memory and data leaks that have been there forever and will never get fixed (sort of like that “feature” not a “bug” aspect of Hayden’s Trailblazer).

  10. MadDog says:

    More OT – A piece by Bill Roggio of Long War Journal:

    US Attorney General supports update of the Authorization of Military Force

    The US government is encountering opposition in its attempts to update the woefully outdated Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has enabled the US to pursue those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the US.

    Yesterday Attorney General Michael Mukasey sent a letter to Representative Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in which Mukasey notes his support for the update to the AUMF and expresses his dismay at opposition to the bill…

    Two things:

    1. Bill seems to think that Mumbles Mukasey is still the AG.

    2. Mumbles Mukasey’s letter is here, and worth the read to see what the crazies are thinking.

  11. Gitcheegumee says:

    Walt Disney World: The Government’s Tomorrowland? – News21 ProjectSep 1, 2006 … A4Vision is funded in part by the Department of Defense and In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm for new technologies. Although Disney …
    newsinitiative.org/…/walt_disney_world_the_governments – Cached – Similar

    NOTE: Don’t let the dateline fool you. There is some very interesting info contained in the article….for example:

    A4Vision is funded in part by the Department of Defense and In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm for new technologies.Although Disney will not disclose who makes its fingerprint scanners, biometrics experts said the new technology is likely provided by New Mexico-based Lumidigm Inc.

    Lumidigm also has received funding from the CIA as well as the National Security Agency and Department of Defense, according to founder and CEO Bob Harbour.The government has looked to Disney for advice on biometrics in the past. After 9/11, one Disney executive was part of a group convened by the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies to help develop a plan for “Passenger Protection and Identity Verification” at airports, using biometrics.

    Former Disney employees have filled some of the most sensitive positions in the U.S. intelligence and security communities. Eric Haseltine left his post as executive vice president of research and development at Walt Disney Imagineering in 2002 to become associate director for research at the NSA, and he is now National Intelligence Director John Negroponte’s assistant director for science and technology.

    Another former Disney employee, Bran Ferren, has served on advisory boards for the Senate Intelligence Committee and offered his technological expertise to the NSA and the DHS.

  12. cregan says:

    While I kind of understand the reasoning behind this, still a very bad idea.

    We go to places like Disney World and Land to escape reality, not confront it. And, there is nothing wrong with wanting to take a break from the bull shit.