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07 November 2008 @ 07:16 am
Dear President Obama  
I just submitted this statement through the comment form at http://www.change.gov.

The most important thing I want from an Obama administration is the restoration of civil liberties taken away by the Bush administration. Stop the warrantless wiretappings, the indefinite imprisonments without charges, the shadowy extraterritorial prisons beyond the rule of law. Close Guantanamo and give the people imprisoned there fair and public trials. Stop the signing statements, roll back the executive branch power grabs, and return the actions of the Vice President to the public view.

And, pettiest of this list but the one with the most impact on the most people: eliminate airport "security" procedures that annoy and delay passengers without improving security, like the removal of shoes, restriction of liquids, and un-casing of laptops. Replace ham-handed, formulaic intimidation by untrained TSA thugs with less-obtrusive, more-intelligent inspection by officers trained to spot suspicious behavior, as in Israel. Passing through an American airport today is the most frightening, demeaning, and intrusive experience of most citizens' lives, and it's even worse for non-citizens. This would be a place where you can quickly show Americans and the world how an Obama administration differs from Bush.
the laughing leaping waterminnehaha on November 7th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
I would argue that the whole civil liberties thing has the more important impact on people's lives.

The signing statements question is a tough one. Obama has said he may well use them.

David D. Levinedavidlevine on November 7th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
Perhaps I should have said "daily impact" for the airports thing.
Omahaomahas on November 7th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
Signing statements in and of themselves are not an issue. Presidents have been using them for many, many years to make statements. But Bush abused them to try and take more power, attempt to take authority from Congress. That is something that I have no doubt Obama will *not* do.
Suefrostfox on November 7th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
Close Guantanamo and give the people imprisoned there fair and public trials.

Pretty much top of my wish list.

Doug Fauntn6tqs on November 7th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
I'd say that the civil liberties thing is so subtle many people don't feel the impact. Airport security theatre effects most people who fly, and has even spilled over to Amtrak.
coppervalecoppervale on November 7th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
Totally, totally with you on the airports. I have twice been detained under armed guard for closer inspection of suspicious items.

The first time it was a Jack Skellington statue. The second it was for Belgian Chocolate Pencils.

The Chocolate I can forgive - but my kids wanted to know why we had to be guarded by a security guy just because we bought something large at Disneyland.
Twilight: Dariatwilight2000 on November 7th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)
I'll be leaving my own comments -- Habeus Corpus, regardless of how much the average person notices it day to day, is such a corner stone it *must* be reinstated.

Thanks for pointing out the resource!
SF and Quiltingnwl on November 7th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
And, pettiest of this list but the one with the most impact on the most people: eliminate airport "security" procedures that annoy and delay passengers without improving security, like the removal of shoes, restriction of liquids, and un-casing of laptops.

Both the removal of shoes and not carrying liquids were started in Britain in response to a guy with a bomb in his shoe and a threat they got regarding liquids. America and the rest of the world decided to conform to the British guidelines.

One of my quilting friends was on the first flight out of England then the No Liquids restriction was imposed. There was no notice - they just showed up and were told they were not allowed to bring anything on the plane other than a book. She had to even check her handbag. They also dumped all the liquids and gels people had. My friend was also detained at the airport in England because she "caused a fuss". Her son is special needs and the guard separated him from her, so she got upset. Fortunately, she calmed down and made the flight.

I talked with her the day after and she was still pretty upset.

If the changes are made in American airports, what about the rest of the world? I've had to take my shoes off in England, Ireland and Scotland when we went to Worldcon a few years ago. We took our shoes off in Germany, Italy, and Austria when were were in Europe last year. We were not allowed to take any liquids through any of the security check points in any of those airports. The one in Vienna was especially difficult because the security check point fed directly into a waiting lounge. Unlike just about every other airport I've been in, there were not shops one could go into while waiting in Vienna. If you wanted to leave, you had to return through security. The restroom was the only amenity. You couldn't buy food or drinks for the flight as security would not allow it though security. This was an European airport, not a U.S. one.

When I came about alone from Poland by myself, maybe 20 years ago, the cab driver told me to take my ticket out of my bag because security was at the door. After searching all the bags, they were sealed by security. If my ticket was in my purse, I'd have to break the seal and go through security again before I would be allowed to go to the ticket counter. He was right and I was glad for the tip. I think I went through two more security checks, each time they made sure my handbag had not been opened.

When I got to Frankfurt, I changed planes going though security again. I don't know if they still do this, but each passenger was "frisked" by someone of the same sex. The choice was be frisked or not get on the plane.

The U.S. is hardly alone on having airport security. The real question is how much difference should there be in airport security about the world? I read about three weeks ago that England is considering lifting the liquids ban. If this happens, it will have nothing to do with Obama, but with the country where it started.

Since you went to Japan last year, what airport security did Japan have?
Tomvoidampersand on November 8th, 2008 01:03 am (UTC)
I have yet to see any evidence that the threat of liquid explosives was credible. This is not about whether the plotters had bad intentions, but whether the means of liquid explosives was a credible threat and justifies the security measures. I'm not an expert but have read a fair amount about the plot and the means they were planning to use, according to the authorities.

One thing that really has to be considered is the British police investigation of the plotters was compromised by the Bush administration. The British police had a very effective stakeout of the plotters, and were in the process of gathering evidence and discovering the full extent of the network. When the investigation was compromised, they had to arrest as many of the plotters as they could, right away, and press charges based on the evidence they had. The evidence they had wasn't that good, but they had to make it seem bad enough to justify putting the guys away. I think that contributed to the hysteria around the liquid scare.

I went to Japan last year too. The country and the people are wonderful. However, Japan has a right-wing government that is rather corrupt, and the airport security was just like that back home in the US. I don't know if the two facts are related, but there you are.