The State We’re In

Sarah Blawatt: Omega Contributor  Ω

Dear Michael Chertoff,

You had a real nice four-year run as the United States Secretary of Homeland Security under everyone’s favourite president, George W. Bush.

You, with help, exercised your critical power bone and co-authored the USA Patriot Act, which basically rendered privacy as extinct as the dinosaurs.

You chose to throw environmental protections out the window to build a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border—a fence seven times the size of the Berlin Wall.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at your power hungry, money-sucking tactics for self-gain. After all, you do look like Nosferatu.

Your intense promotion of the invasive naked-body scanners can only mean one thing for you: profit. The Chertoff Group—the security consulting agency you so boldly named after yourself—just so happens to have a client that manufactures this peek-a-boo technology: Rapsican.

Allegedly, the contract to make the states a safer place is worth $173 million—and rising. With money like this flying around, did you really not expect people to go sniffing at the paper trail that leads to your front door?

Well, we found you. But it would seem you found us first. The scanners landed on Canadian soil last year and have gone from Kelowna to Halifax.

Currently, there are 44 in the country, and at $250,000 a piece, I can’t help but wonder if that money could have gone to something better. Oh, say affordable housing, stimulating the economy—whatever that means these days—or heck, even Haiti.

As I’m travelling over Reading Break, I wonder how many sets of eyes will be sizing up the contours of my body. And to think, none of them will have even bought me a single drink.

Is it really about safety, Chertoff? Or is this just one more step in the direction of a dictatorship? The War on Terror is about as transparent as the War on Drugs. Both are, as Bill Hicks once said, wars on personal freedom.

It’s not just because we know you’re making big money off of our created fear that gives us reason to be choked. It’s the intrusiveness, the invasion of our privacy. It’s being subject to small doses of radiation without having a choice. It’s that if we refuse to be scanned or groped, we aren’t allowed to fly.

Travelling should be a right—instead, today, it is a fading privilege.