Diary: November 26, 2015
Today was an interesting day. It started as most Thanksgiving days have started over the last few years with my family getting ready; cooking, cleaning, arranging. And then extended family started arriving about 9 am. Everyone was excited and happy. As more people arrived, the volume level naturally increased. Kids were playing. Football was on TV, Great smells coming from the kitchen, a normal Thanksgiving Day for my family. Eventually, we could stand it no more and gathered around the table to eat. We gave thanks for our blessings and filled our plates and with great enthusiasm and began eating.
We were having the perennial discussion of whether to have desert now or wait a while when the doorbell rang. I knew it was going to happen someday, but was not expecting it today, so it was a little of a surprise and to be truthful, a little irritating because it was inconvenient. I thought to myself that it would inconvenient anytime, so just be helpful and get it over with. So I invited the team from US SS (United States Security Service) in. It was our turn for a random house search.
They gathered us all into a room while they went through the house. They were polite, courteous, and efficient. The whole search only took about half an hour, and the worst part was dealing with the bored kids. They did draw me aside and ask me about the gun safe. I told them yes there were guns in it and they were locked up so the children could not get to them. I was requested to open it, so I did. (well… I was a little nervous so it took me a few times before I got the combination right.)
I asked the person in charge how they chose our house today. She said that it was a random selection. I asked her if all the addresses were put in a hat and one drawn or what. She seemed a little irritated and told me that “it is just random”. I almost said “so you were just driving down the street and decided to stop here” but decided I better shut up before they got mad at me. It did make me wonder how random the “Random choice” really was.
Soon it was all over and they said goodbye and wished us a happy Thanksgiving and a merry Christmas to boot. I knew we had nothing to hide, but I realized that when they told me all was ok and that they were leaving, a great weight was lifted. I had not realized how nervous I was. Looking around I could tell the event had affected everyone, even the dog looked nervous.
We had our desert, watched more football, played games, and did all the things we normally did on Thanksgiving Day. It was a little quieter and we were less exuberant, but we had a good day. Everyone left a little earlier than normal, but that was ok as it gave us time to crash.
Now the kids are in bed, and I have been thinking about the day. What got me thinking was when I realized I was wondering if everyone would come back next year. It did not take me long to realize why I was thinking about that. We had been invaded. It was friendly. It was necessary. I had known it would happen eventually. So, why did I feel violated? Then I realized that my home had been searched for no reason other than to keep my neighborhood safe (in case I was a house bomber). I had submitted because I knew I had no choice and I wanted it to impact our day as little as possible.
My brain screamed at me: “This is America! How did we get to where random security sweeps were the norm?” I thought I would work backwards and see what had led us to this.
Back in December (2014) the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) had gone on TV telling everyone to be on the lookout and report anyone acting strange. There had evidently been some intelligence that there was going to be another terrorist attack in the US. They were able to stop two, but three houses across the US were packed with explosives and blew up entire neighborhoods as the Ball in New York dropped, signaling the start of the New Year. That started the House Sweeps. Although people grumbled (especially those that had their houses randomly searched) there was very little opposition to this new security measure. People seemed to realize that these administrative searches were necessary to make sure our neighborhoods remained intact.
I guess we had just gotten accustomed to being searched. Over the last few years there had been some suicide bombers, but on Easter Sunday 2014 there had evidently been a co-ordinated attack because there were several explosions in houses of worship across the nation. That was when churches and just about every public building across the US started putting in some sort of screening mechanism. Now that I think about it, I bet the companies that produced metal detectors and backscatter scanners made a fortune that year.
It was during 2013 that the Department of Security Service was established. They had realized that with the growing number of suicide bombers we needed to have random searches of people in public to slow that trend down. This was really just an extension of the RCS (Random Car Search) program. We started having RCSs in 2012 after DHS stopped a couple attempted car bombings.
2011 brought the searches of people riding the subway in New York, and eventually all public transportation. I am very thankful to be able to say that so far, we have had no terrorist attacks on subways, busses or such like. I have not heard of foiled attacks in this vector so I am assuming this has been a success. DHS seems to keep this type information quiet so as to be able to catch others.
No one can forget the furor in 2010 over the enhanced security at the airports. I guess it seems silly now that we get scanned just going to the grocery store. However, if I remember correctly, there were several lawsuits and even a few people claiming their constitutional rights had been violated. I wonder what ever happened to those suits. If I remember correctly the same type objections and lawsuits were raised back in 2004 also (I think, may have been 2005). I don’t remember what happened with those either, but we are still doing the searches so I guess they were somehow declared legal.
I think every American alive and of accountable age at the time remembers 9/11. I am sure that some people probably think that we can trace this trend of searches back to that day. Yet! The origin goes back to an earlier time than that. There were US citizens that attacked some judges and therefore court houses started putting in metal detectors. I don’t remember when it happened, but I know by 2004 there were metal detectors in many schools. By now they probably have the AIT (Advanced Imaging Technology) scanners in schools.
I’m sure someone probably remembers when the US Government was given “administrative search” powers and thus exempting all administrative searches from the IV Amendment, but I don’t. Maybe I am just too sleepy as it HAS been a long and interesting day.
I think I will end my day by being thankful for my family, being thankful that I have a home to be searched, being thankful that I live in the great USA, being thankful that I have a government that cares enough to keep me safe…
There was a big boom and we all got up and looked out the windows. It looks like there was a big explosion several miles down the road. I’m thankful they searched my house and made our neighborhood safe today…