TSA must be dismantled

July 5, 2009

One of the reasons I get pissed at myself is I sit around planning to do things I never do. For the past month now, I’ve been planning to write to, not my Congressman, but Ron Paul, possibly my only kindred spirit in Congress, calling for the dismantlement of the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA is about as useful as tits on a bull. For starters, they as a group aren’t the brightest crayons in the box. I used to work at a TSA employment testing site, and the intelligence level of these applicants was astounding. Some of them couldn’t read. One applicant came in to the testing site without her Social Security card, despite the very clear statement on the application that they had to present a Social Security card, along with one other form of (picture) ID, to gain access to the test. “Oh,” she said, “I have to have my Social Security card?”  Now, would  you trust someone to enforce the rules who thinks the rules don’t apply to her?

I travel frequently for business and have seen a lot of $5-an-hour-power bullshit in airport security lines all over this country. Some examples:

On Sunday, June  28, 2009, a Miss Williams at the BWI airport pulled my suitcase off the conveyor belt and began to empty its contents in front of the other passengers. “Um, could we do this in private?” I asked. No reply. She kept on sifting through my bag. (I should mention at this point that this was the first time I’d ever notchecked luggage, plus this was a new bag, so I wasn’t in my normal routine.) “Could we go in the private room?” I asked a little louder. Miss Williams rolled her eyes and called over another badgeholder, Miss Pollock, to accompany us. We went into the private room.

“Why was my bag singled out?” I asked.

“You’ll see in a minute,” Miss Williams replied without making eye contact.

She pulled everything out of my suitcase and triumphantly held up her national-security-saving discovery: a cutlery kit from Weight Watchers I’ve been carrying around for about 15 years now. “Can’t have this,” she said wanly, again with no eye contact, removing only the knife.  She let the fork pass. She also pulled out a small corkscrew. “What do you want to do with this?” she asked?

“May I mail them back to myself?” I asked.

“Sure,” she said, and after leaving me to repack the mess she made out of my clothes, showed me where to fill out the form. (Beware, folks: It costs different amounts at different airports. At Honolulu, for example, I paid $7 to mail a mini-Swiss Army knife, with a 1 1/2″ blade, back to me in Maryland in March 2007.  At BWI, it cost me $9.95 per item to mail the knife and corkscrew up the road about ten miles to my home in June 2009, and I haven’t seen them yet.) (Post hoc 7/19: The items finally arrived in the mail July 18.) She took the form from me and said, “They’re not going to be able to read that.”

“What do you mean?”

She showed me the last copy of the form. “They’re not going to be able to read that.” Mind you, the last copy is the copy the customer (that’s me, if you’re keeping score) keeps. “These two copies look ok,” I replied, showing her the copies that they would actually use.

“Fine, if you want to mail it like that,” she said, rolling her eyes. She threw the sealed bag in the drop box and walked away.

Miss Williams, if you are reading this, which I severely doubt, you are a four-star $5-an-hour-power bitch on wheels. Just thought you’d like to know.

Some other examples of TSA fascists not seeing the forest for the trees:

On Thursday, July 2, the traveler in front of me in the X-ray line at LAX had two sealed quart cartons of cottage cheese taken away from him. (Because we all know how easy it is to blow up a Boeing 737 with a carton of cottage cheese.) It took twobadged thugs to take the threat to national security away and deal with the victim of the theft. If the traveler is reading this, sir, I apologize to you for taking advantage of your situation to push my political agenda. It was none of my business whom you vote for or whom you should vote for in the future. But I bet you’ll think twice before supporting any politican who thinks this rape of our civil liberties is a good idea. And to the two TSA Nazis who took away the man’s lunch, hope you enjoyed it.

————-

On Friday, April 8, 2005, a work colleague and I were going through the line in the Denver airport when her suitcase was pulled out for search by a Robert Craig, badge #25837. (See, I forgive but I don’t forget. Yes, it was over four years ago, but I made sure I witnessed.) He went through her bag, pulling out her bra and panties among other things, in full view of a long line. He never did tell her why her bag was singled out.

“I am so embarrassed,” she muttered to me as we departed the line.

“Well,” I muttered back, “his name was Robert Craig and his badge number was 25837, if you want to file a grievance. I’ll back you up.”

—————–

In the winter of 2006, sorry but I don’t remember the exact date, probably January 5, 12, or 19, a female badged thug in the San Diego airport went through my briefcase and inspected a handcrafted wristwatch of mine a little too closely. It was your basic watch head, with a beaded bracelet I made out of glass and elastic. She turned it over and over and over in her hands. I took it right out of her hand. “I’ll take that,”  I snapped. Buy your own watch, bitch.

——–

On November 30, 2008, I showed my boarding pass and ID as usual to the gatekeeper, a Mr. Ransom, at a line in BWI while on my way to Ft. Lauderdale. “How are you today?” he asked.

“Fine; yourself?” I replied. My standard answer.

“Blessed,” he replied. He checked my papers, handed them back to me and said, “Have a blessed flight.” Okay, that’s the last straw. I realize some TSA goons are actually subcontractors, not government employees, but many people do not realize this. They assume these people represent the government. So hear this: YOU DO NOT GET TO PREACH TO ME AS LONG AS YOU ARE WEARING A GOVERNMENT BADGE AND UNIFORM.

————-

Unfortunately, I can’t recall all the details of such events as: the passenger at BWI who got wanded in full sight of all of us and was made to pull up her shirt because her bra’s underwire was setting off the metal detector; the family at LAX last week who had their suitcase disemboweled in plain sight like my coworker had; the moron in Minneapolis-St. Paul airport who insisted I place a half-drunk bottle of Diet Pepsi on the conveyor belt to be X-rayed; and many more. But the main point is this: While raping our civil liberties every day, these procedures haven’t saved one life. Haven’t caught oneterrorist. In fact, testers routinely manage to get real threats past these bozos. I guarantee you, terrorists aren’t going to do the same thing twice. They’re attention whores and drama queens. I just know when they see videos of us on al-Jazeera taking our shoes off, they’re laughing their asses off and saying, “Oh shit! They’re on to the shoe thing. We gotta think of something else.” And when they do, some wingnut in government is going to think of another way to treat ordinary Americans (and visitors) like potential terrorists and take more of our freedoms away.

Please write to your elected representative and ask him or her to introduce a bill dismantling TSA. Make all these $5-an-hour-power thugs go to work at Wal-Mart instead.

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