Thursday, November 25, 2010

1984 Revisited (towards an American Police State)

In 1984 the United States invited the Cayman Islands Government to sign a formal contract (“the Narco Agreement”) requiring Cayman’s cooperation in the tracking-down of the proceeds of narcotics trafficking. The two sides argued back and forth for a while, until Cayman suddenly capitulated. It was rumoured that the US had threatened to body-search every passenger arriving in Miami on flights from Cayman. That would have destroyed our Offshore industry overnight.

Well, here we go again. This time, America has turned one of its Federal police agencies loose on all air passengers everywhere. Body searches are suddenly the order of the day, all over the country. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has brought the flavour of 1930s Germany to the airports of “the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

Passengers must submit to either whole-body radiation scans or intimate physical probes, feel-ups and gropings. The scanning machines concentrate radiation on the surface of the skin and just below it, so are far more intensive than ordinary X-rays; they can trigger skin-cancers in vulnerable individuals. Particularly susceptible are foetuses in wombs, children, and persons with “impaired immunity” such as those who have already had cancer. Cancer Society- your comments and advice, please.

The intimate probes, feel-ups and gropings are collectively called “gate rapes” by bloggers. There are fears that STDs and other diseases may be spread by the contact of much-used rubber gloves with several victims’ genitals. How intimate was the inspection of the latest “client”, exactly, and how easily could the next in line become infected? And the next, and the next, until the gloves are changed? (The gloves are to protect the gropers, not their victims.)

Babies and children are not exempted. Children of any age can be taken away from their parents by TSA goons for private molestation. What a shock for little kids to learn that strangers in uniform have free access to their bodies – in the security lines at airports, for the moment: later on, who knows?

As if this wasn’t bad enough news for Cayman’s tourism industry, the TSA intends to extend the program to cruise passengers. In due course, Owen Roberts Airport will be required to install the scanners, and perhaps our cruise passengers’ landing-places will too. Local security personnel may be recruited to make the gate-rape inspections. Oh dear. Sandra’s Sex-Offenders Register may need extra pages.

It’s not just our overseas visitors who will be affected. We who live in Cayman can calculate the effect on our personal lives. Long weekends in Tampa may become less appealing; flying to Miami to give birth may become dangerous. Grandchildren’s visits to Cayman may become more expensive. One of my two young granddaughters carries the breast-cancer gene. The radiation scanner might kill her; sexual assault would traumatise her.

What to do? The US is no longer a safe transit point. Next time the girls visit us, they will have to fly into Cayman from Toronto or Kingston or London – assuming those places do not copy America’s path to mass radiation. Or Cuba, or Honduras- OK, that’s five places.

Three times during our youthful travels, my wife and I managed to bluff our way out of a country whose exit formalities we found onerous. Two of the countries were within the Soviet Empire; the third was an Arab dictatorship. On none of the occasions were our body-cavities at the slightest risk of unwanted exploration. The Amerikan [sic] Empire is breaking new ground.

“1984” is here at last.

Later. In March 2013 I posted another blog on the same general theme, this time relating to in-transit foolishness at Heathrow on the way through to Norway.