Airport insanity

R.A. Hettinga rah at
Thu Oct 14 19:08:59 EDT 2004


Airport insanity
Cal Thomas (back to web version) | Send

October 13, 2004

Ted Kennedy and I have something in common. We are both on airline lists as
potential terror suspects.

Kennedy was recently denied access to a US Airways flight out of
Washington, one he has taken for 40 years.

I am on a US Airways list of some type that apparently requires airline
employees to take my driver's license behind closed doors, have a
conference and then stamp my ticket with a code that mandates my person and
my carry-on bag be searched. Every time I fly, which is sometimes several
times a week. I especially appreciate the crotch grab to make sure I'm not
hiding any weapons of mass destruction. How would you like to be the
trainer for this procedure?

The idiocy virus is now spreading to other airlines. It seems someone who
shares my name is wanted by authorities. I hope he is getting some of my
hate mail. Logic should dictate that once I prove I am not the guy they are
looking for, they would take me off the suspect list. But, no, our misnamed
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is anything but logical.

US Airways gives me a TSA phone number to call. I am not surprised when a
machine answers. The machine promises a "prompt" response. I leave a
message. There is no response. A few days later, I call again. Same
recording, same message, same non-response. I send an e-mail to TSA. This
time I receive an "automated reply," assuring me of a prompt response. Two
days later, I receive another e-mail informing me I will have to fill out a
form to prove I am not a terrorist. This is an interesting twist on the
"innocent until proven guilty" standard in law.

The confusion plot thickens. Two weeks ago, TSA approved my application for
"registered traveler" status as part of an experimental program at some
airports for frequent travelers. I recorded my "eye print" and fingerprint,
and now a machine can identify me and allow me to go to the head of the
security line, but only at the airport where I applied.

Other participating airports require applications to be made at each of
those airports, even though the paperwork presumably goes to TSA
headquarters. Why can't TSA look at that one application that has been
approved and take me off their "watch list," or whatever they call it? Is
"logic" not in government dictionaries?

Things have become so ridiculous on the road that a TSA screener in Duluth,
Minn., last week required me to open my computer bag, whereupon she used
one of those devices that resemble a deodorant pad and wiped every
electrical cord. When I asked why, she responded, "The downed Russian
airliners." When I noted that Duluth was the only airport in the country
where my electrical cords had been wiped, she replied, "Everyone is
supposed to."

The arbitrariness of all of this makes me think the "security" system isn't
very secure and that it is all a sham created by politicians to fool the
public into believing they are protecting us. Meanwhile, millions cross our
borders illegally, including untold numbers from countries that hate us.

Why isn't the Bush administration doing something about illegal immigration
instead of pretending these people are coming here solely to do manual
labor we native Americans don't want to do? Wouldn't we be safer if we
prevented those who wish us harm from getting into the country?

Thanks to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta's misguided policy of
refusing to profile travelers, we get equal opportunity inconvenience and
stupidity. Imagine if cops were prohibited from describing gender, race or
other physical characteristics when broadcasting an all-points bulletin for
a suspect.

My profile is radically different from all those who killed nearly 3,000 of
my countrymen on September 11, 2001. My "holy book" of choice is the Bible.
My race is Caucasian. I am a loyal, taxpaying, patriotic, evil-hating,
English-as-first-language, natural-born American. If profiling were
allowed, I wouldn't be the one filling out government forms to prove I'm
not a terrorist. The other guys would.

This is an outrage! The form will soon be in the mail. They'll probably
send me a note assuring me of a prompt reply, before misplacing the
application. Senator Kennedy, can you help?

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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