November 22, 2010 / by emptywheel


White House: Only 170,000 People Have Had Genitalia Groped by Complete Stranger in Last Week

The White House has started a pushback campaign on gate rape that is reminiscent of “Recovery Summer” or “Mission Accomplished” for its credibility.

It consists of a number of things, in addition to the inevitable army of talking-point-people using the word “enhanced” the same way Cheney did.

First, there are statistics. Such as their claim that only 1% of people undergo pat-downs.

In airports where body screening technology is available, about one in every 100 passengers are given pat-downs, according to another official, Sean Smith, the DHS spokesperson.

Which may or may not contradict their other claim, that less than half of one percent of all air passengers have undergone “enhanced pat-downs.”

For instance, the administration noted that fewer than one half of one percent of the 34 million passengers who traveled on airplanes in or to the U.S. last week were subjected to crotch-area pat-downs.

So the White House’s idea of effective pushback against objections to this invasive scrutiny? “Only 170,000 people have had their genitalia groped by a complete stranger employed by the federal government in the last week. Big. Fucking. Deal.”

That sort of seems like a lot of junk-touching in just one week.

They’re also citing the polls and the numbers of complaints from before the junk-touching started in earnest so as to claim that no one much cares about being groped.

But here’s the thing I find most offensive.

The president said this weekend that while he understands the “frustrations” that the policies seem to have caused, “at this point, TSA in consultation with counterterrorism experts have indicated to me that the procedures that they have been putting in place are the only ones right now that they consider to be effective against the kind of threat that we saw in the Christmas Day bombing.” [my emphasis]

Um, no. You see, after the underwear bombing, we had a whole bunch of studies that examined what went wrong and what might have been effective against the underwear bomber. And the answer–in the face of clear fuck-ups by the NCTC and CIA (and to a much lesser degree, the FBI for which John Pistole then served as second-in-command)–the answer was to stop fucking up and start sharing information. To claim that junk-touching is the only thing that would be effective at stopping the undie bomber, when we know that the intelligence community had already identified Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab but failed to stop him, is an out and out lie.

Mind you, crotch groping might be effective if al Qaeda or another terrorist organization decided to launch the same type of attack, this time from within the United States. Or it might be effective against another sort of attack we haven’t yet thought up. Then again, it pointedly wouldn’t be effective against an attack by an organization that has proven itself capable of adjusting and exploiting new weaknesses–that is, the organization we’re fighting.

But to claim crotch-groping in the United States is the only procedure that would have been effective against an attack launched by an identified terrorist flying from another country, which is, after all “the kind of threat we saw in the Christmas Day bombing,” when we know the procedure that would have been effective is in fact simply sharing the information we had already collected?

That’s a pretty brutal pinch of the ‘nads.

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