Air Travel Today and the TSA
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I refuse to fly anymore. I refuse to be treated like a criminal. And I'm not the only one. Because of the treatment of passengers at our airports by the agents of the Transportation Security Administration, many Americans now refuse to fly if they can drive, or simply decide to stay home. This means fewer paying passengers on our airlines, fewer tourist dollars in vacation spots, and less revenue being generated for our airports and airline infrastructure.
I am one of those suspicious characters that every single time I fly, get "selected" for "special screening." I get to take off my shoes, spread my legs and arms to get "wanded" and then get patted down. When I ask why I was picked out of line, I was told that it was simply "random screening." The problem is that I "randomly" get selected every single time. A few months back I flew home from St. Louis after delivering a vehicle to a friend. When I went through the security gate I was pulled out, spread out, and "shoed." My shoes were then screened by a machine and an alarm went off showing nitrates. Immediately I was surrounded by four big guys in white shirts and scowls. "Do you deal in chemicals?" one asked. "Where would you pick up explosives on your shoes?" asked another. I said I don't deal in chemicals and I haven't used explosives in years (no sense of humor on their part at this last statement). "Oh, when did you use explosives?" asked one scowler.
"When I was in Vietnam, as a US Marine, killing every commie I could get in my sights!" was my first response, then "and when I was on the bomb disposal squad for the Tulsa Police Department" was my second.
They looked at each other, then one asked "so you're a cop?"
"I'm retired. I spent 26 years as a police officer."
"Do you have animals?"
"As a matter of fact, I have two horses, twelve chickens, two cats and a Labrador."
They all looked at each other, obviously relieved, and handed my shoes back. "Well, that explains it" said one. "Walking around animal dung puts nitrates on your shoes."
I couldn't help wondering about anyone in a city who walk streets inhabited by pigeons.
"Now, let ME ask YOU a question," says I. "Why did I get picked out--randomly?"
He showed me a checkered box at the bottom of my boarding pass and said that the computer does it, and when they see this they pull you out of line. I asked why I ALWAYS had the checkered box.
"Well, you could be on The List."
"What list?" I pursued.
"Let's put it this way. You might have ticked someone off in Washington, like the FBI or another agency. I can't say more. I'd get in trouble. You need to catch your plane." He half grinned and walked off. I headed for the gate.
It was then that I knew what it was all about. I had written my government-critical book "The Medusa File", and in doing so stepped on a lot of toes. I knew the FBI had at one time tapped my phones, intercepted my mail, and tailed me--simply because I wrote about cases of government abuse, abuse of power and crimes committed by politicians and bureaucrats who used their positions of power for their own agendas. And my treatment of exposing the truth on who was really involved in the Oklahoma City Bombing case and its connection to al Qaeda and Iraq--which was my last assigned case before I retired--really slammed a few criminals in high places. So now I was on The List. So be it.
Let me confess what kind of "criminal suspect" I am: I served in the US Marine Corps from 1964-1968, twelve months of which I was in Vietnam as a Marine infantryman, hunting Vietcong for Uncle Sam's Shooting Club. I was wounded in action and medevaced home. I was awarded six combat decorations including the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnam Campaign medal. I went on to serve later in the Army National Guard, as an NCO, then obtaining a commission as the oldest member of my OCS class. I rose through the ranks, eventually transferring ot the Army Reserve to serve as a company commander, battalion staff officer, and finally an intel officer. I retired in 1999 as a lieutenant colonel with 30 years total service, holding a Top Secret Clearance. I am now also a 60% disabled vet due to combat wounds which have worsened over the years.
At the same time my day job was as a police officer. I served 26 years with the Tulsa PD, working uniform, plain clothes, SWAT, bomb squad and finally as a police helicopter pilot for 3600 hours of flight time. I received the department's Medal of Valor, two Chief's Medals, and the Department Commendation Medal. Not exactly the profile of a terrorist suspect, eh?
My sin, evidently, was using the First Amendment. By writing books that exposed government corruption I became a "suspicious character"--someone to add to The List.
9/11 was the biggest turning point in American legal history since the Kennedy Assassination. It was the driving force behind consolidation of federal law enforcement, creation of a new Homeland Defense Agency, and subsequent creation of the Transportation Security Administration. Three weeks after 9/11 I flew to Hawaii from Tulsa. The lines at the security gates were horrendous, the waits terrible, but I knew that once everything settled down in a few months, it had to get better. However, at the time it was very bad. When we began boarding in Los Angeles for Honolulu, I saw Pearl Harbor veterans wearing their survivor hats being pulled out of line for "special searches." These vets were in their 70s and 80s--most with canes and walkers. I asked one of the gate guards what was going on, and he said they were "random searches."
I said "then why don't you search the friggin' Arabs getting on the plane?" There were several middle-eastern types in line--none of which were given a glance.
"Because we are ordered not to racially profile."
"What? Gimme a break!" says I. "I was a cop for over two decades. We HAD to racially profile, as you say. After all, when the radio says that there's been an armed robbery by a black male in his 20s, we didn't go around looking for, or stopping a white lady in her sixties!"
He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said "I know. But that's our orders from headquarters. We can get in trouble for pulling out Muslims and other people of middle eastern descent."
I was both shocked and disgusted. This whole thing went along with not closing off our southern border. How could you fight terrorism if you ignored the obvious and pursued the ridiculous?
Since then the TSA and our airport security system has developed into a more efficient system of screening as far as how long it takes to get through the gate. But so did Nazi Germany. There, the Geheimestatspolizei--commonly referred to as Gestapo--became extremely efficient. And feared. They had to answer to no one, could take anyone they wanted for interrogation, keep them as long as they wanted, and had to produce no laws or authority when asked. They could simply say "it's none of your business. We do what we want. We have to show you nothing!"
The TSA can do all of the above. Witness the case of Helen Chenoweth-Hage, a former Congresswoman (R-ID) from Idaho. She attempted to board a United Airlines flight in Boise and was pulled aside for additional screening. This included a pat down search and so on. She asked to see the regulation that authorizes the gate agents to conduct this and was told that she couldn't see it. She refused to go through additional screening unless they could produce the regulation, and she was not allowed to catch her plane. When asked later, the local TSA security director Julian Gonzales to the Idaho Statesman (10-10-04) that "She refused to go through additional screening and she was not allowed to fly." When asked why the TSA did not show her the regulation, he replied "because we don't have to."
This is known as Secret Law. They can pass it, but they don't have to show it to you. At the same time, "ignorance of the law is no excuse." You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
As a career police officer, and a counter-terrorist specialist trained by the US Army, I can't help but wonder what in the world is going on here. Terrorism is not being effectively addressed by such antics. Treating average Americans, including women and babies, like criminals does little to stem dedicated terrorists. It is like when I was in Vietnam, being ordered to detain and search other Marines and leave the Vietcong alone because we didn't want to offend them.
Is there some secret conspiracy in the works that has the objective of motivating people not to travel? In Russia, as a form of control of the population, they issued internal passports to discourage traveling outside your own "home area." Here, dealing with Americans, it is done with suggestive mind control. Make it so complicated, so annoying, so embarrasing, that no one WANTS to travel. It accomplishes the same thing.
Dont' worry about the airlines. They will go broke until there are only a few left, all subsidized and totally controlled by the government--like Lufthansa and el Al. We'll be told it was because of unions, or rising fuel costs, or other excuses, when in fact it will be because people will no longer wish to fly unless they have to.
But, Citizen, remember: when you get to the airport, have your papers in order and be ready to be searched. And don't try any humor when being searched by saying something like "you missed a spot--can you get between my shoulder blades a little to the left...?" The Airport Nazis have NO sense of humor.
Today's air travel requirements remind me of an old black-and-white World War II movie wherein a Gestapo agent at a train station approaches our hero and asks "You haf papers? You haf permit to be on Reich soil?"
I think I'll just drive from now on.
(Related Article: The
Airport Nazis Strike Again!)