let the eagle soarMagnificent story here:
Somewhere in the world, a suspected terrorist named Youssouf Islam has the attention of the United States government. This has been a problem for Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. And this, get ready for it, is a problem for the wife of Republican U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, since her name is...Catherine Stevens. Cat for short.
Catherine Stevens has been "delayed repeatedly" at airports by TSA officials who shrewdly determined that they may very well have had Youssouf Islam in their airport, trying to board an airplane so he could DESTROY AMERICA, bwah hah hah!
By this same inductive process, George Bush is himself suspected of being Osama bin-Laden, since both have the letter "B" in their names.
This story triggered my own fond memories of flying home from Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, after finishing my last stretch of active duty in the Army. The good people at the demob station dropped us off at the tiny regional airport in La Crosse at four in the morning, before the airline counters opened. We waited. And then the counters opened, and we checked in -- and the TSA screeners at the ticket counter went on full alert, seeing a large group of men with extremely short hair and matching green duffel bags near a military post and concluding, quite rightly, that they may well have had a serious terrorist threat on their hands.
The screeners gather, hands sheathed in rubber gloves, arms cocked out like gunfighters. One by one we suspected terrorists open the locks on our duffel bags, and the screeners peer inside at the very top of our densely packed, three-foot high bags. Then conclude that, yep, no bomb sitting right on the very top, here, and they close the bags up again. All the while being kind of aggressively rude about the whole thing.
And then we shuffle over to the security checkpoint so we can get to the gate.
Now, we had all been overseas when the evil terrorists turned our very bottled Evian against us, so not everyone had gotten that particular memo. And so one of our number tried to carry several cans of Coca-Cola through the checkpoint in his carry-on bag. An alert is triggered! Screeners leap into action! The cans are removed...and have writing on them in Arabic script! More screeners gather, etcetera. Finally, carefully assessing the young man's curious mottled green clothing, the TSA decides to step the situation down a few steps, and calmly allow that everything will be okay as long as the young man who has tried to penetrate their AO with canned soda takes his dangerous beverage product over to the ticket counter to be reclassed as checked baggage.
While he does just that, I stand waiting at the back end of the checkpoint, watching the screeners do their work. A middle-aged Wisconsinite enters the checkpoint with mixed nuts in a bag...but the bag is a one-gallon bag, not the required one-quart bag!!!! Screeners gather! A supervisor rushes to the scene! The screeners hand the bag to the supervisor, who holds it up to the light, assessing the nuts with steely mien. Finally, after an excruciating silence, he pronounces his solemn verdict:
"I'm going to allow it -- but just this once."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why middle-aged Wisconsin ladies can't usually threaten us on an airplane with a full gallon of fancy salted pecans and filberts.
For crying out loud, why are we waiting to give these people more power and less accountability? Don't we want to be safe?