Friday, 2003 May 30, 16:02 — me!me!me!, security theater

voodoo security

The saga continues. This came in the form of a .WPD [WordPerfect] attachment:

Dear Mr. Sherwood:

The United States Marshals Service received your e mail of May 12, 2003. This is in response to your question regarding identification requirements at United States Courthouses.

After the tragic events of September 11, 2001 , the United States Marshals Service stepped up efforts to combat terrorism. As you may know, United States Courthouses symbolize justice in America which terrorists may target to cause fear and the disruption of our judicial process. Keep in mind that United States Courthouses _ are _ occupied, in some cities, by thousands of employees. The United States Marshals Service is charged with the safety of these citizens and takes this responsibility seriously. During periods of heightened security, all persons entering our courthouses are asked to produce valid photo identification. The intent is not harassment or to make anyone _ feel _ like duly tagged cattle . Our intent is to make the United States Courthouse a safe place for everyone.

So , on behalf of all persons working or doing business in the courthouse, who appreciate a secure environment, your patience and consideration for _ others is _ appreciated.

Sylvester Jones
Assistant Director
Judicial Security Division

(I changed all unprintable characters to spaces, in order to read it. Later: I’ve also made educated guesses about paragraphs.) I wrote back:

I have given far more patience and cooperation than is warranted by anything you’ve told me. It is partly out of consideration for others that I asked — and now ask again, since it may have slipped your mind — WHAT GOOD IT DOES.

You do not improve anyone’s security by doing pointless rituals and calling them “heightened security”; that’s voodoo. Spending public resources and private resources (a wasted trip) on voodoo reduces security for everyone.

Out of nineteen hijackers, how many showed valid (or apparently valid) photo identification? Nineteen. What good did it do to demand their papers? How does it protect the courthouse to look at my papers and do absolutely nothing with the information?

If it’s a secret, at least tell me that you’re not going to tell me.

Will keep you advised!

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