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ARRA

by on January 6, 2010

ARRA: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Kind of like TARP, only it doesn’t sound like it covers you as well. Reporting on the issue of Umar Farouk Abdulmattab, who should not be called the underwear bomber, MotherJones discusses the issue of full-body scanning in airports, which should not be an issue, because it should not be allowed. From the Washington Post:

In the summer, TSA purchased 150 machines from Rapiscan with $25 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

Let’s ignore, for the moment, the fact that former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, who left office less than a year ago (according to the Washington Post article), not only advocates Rapiscan (which operates under a no-bid contract), but profits from its increased business through his consulting firm. Yeah, we can just ignore all of that.
About that thing called ARRA: I haven’t read all of its provisions and don’t really want to. But the last time I checked, ARRA was designed as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, designed to prevent the collapse of the American credit system; help recovery, maybe by expanding and improving transportation; and generally recovering and reinvesting American credit and value (and not only in a monetary sense). However, I missed the part that suggests that a $25 million no-bid contract is a good step to recovery.
All of the above points could be ignored about full-body scanning: it’s intrusive; no-bid contract; not part of the intent of ARRA — and still, by increasing the presence of these machines, we’re making a mistake. If our goal is to “win” the “War on Terror” (which, kind of like the “War on Drugs,” doesn’t have a viable end), then our method must be to reduce our collective feeling of terror. If we increase the number of full-body scan machines, we increase our collective feeling of terror. If, on the other hand, our goal is to “lose” the “War on Terror” — and nobody would suggest we should lose — and we increase the number of full-body scan machines, which will increase our collective feeling of terror, then we have successfully lost.
I’m all for ARRA; let’s recover and reinvest. But, The War on Terror doesn’t recover or reinvest.

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