Flying the (Way Too) Friendly Skies

Happy Holidays from the TSA!

          Thousands of air passengers are getting ready to take to the skies this week for what is usually the busiest travel season of the year. Some will reluctantly go with the knowledge that they will have to subject themselves to the new “enhanced” safety screenings performed—in many cases by some apparently over-zealous—agents of the Transportation Safety Administration.
          As of late October, passengers may be selected to walk through a full-body scanner that leaves very little to the imagination. These “virtual strip searches” show every bulge, crevice and (for those so inclined) every piercing on the human body. I would put a link from here to the images produced by these scanners, but this is sort of a “family-friendly” blog. All you need to do is search for them…you’ll find them.
          Should passengers be a little camera-shy, they must then go through an enhanced pat-down. No longer are the TSA agents using the backs of their hands for a quick check on top and a quick swipe of a wand below the waist. No, sir—these are now full hands-on searches of a person’s private areas. Reports and photos have been coming out daily of nuns, three-year-olds and pretty much everyone least likely to be a terrorist getting pulled aside for extra scrutiny since the new guidelines were put in place.
          One particularly disturbing story comes out of Charlotte, NC. It was there that a veteran flight attendant and breast cancer survivor was forced to remove her prosthetic breast during a pat-down on her way to work. Cathy Bossi, a flight attendant for 32 years, told WBTV, “I did not take the name of the person at the time because it was so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.”
          It makes me thankful that I only have to put up with heavy traffic on the interstate on my way to work.
          Ms. Bossi has since contacted her flight attendants’ union, which has put their Legislative Affairs Team on the case to look into it further.
          Another cancer survivor, 61-year-old Thomas Sawyer (yes, that’s his name!), was even more shaken as he traveled from Detroit to Orlando in early November. Mr. Sawyer had the unfortunate situation of having his urostomy bag broken while going through his pat-down. Though he warned the TSA official about the bag prior to his “encounter”, he was apparently ignored. As a result, he was forced to walk through the airport and board the plane with wet clothes, and was only allowed to clean up after the plane took off. For his troubles, Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole, called Mr. Sawyer to apologize. Now that’s compassion. It’s nice to know that when your own government humiliates you in public and forces you to walk around in clothes drenched in urine that you’ll at least get a phone call from Washington.
          Tales of bizarre antics of passengers and agents alike surface with regularity on the internet and the airwaves. Some are hilarious, like the guy in San Diego, who decided to just strip down to his boxers (or maybe they were briefs), rather than have strangers see everything else via the scanners.
Others are just plain sad as those of the cancer survivors previously described. Sad not just because their health issues and privacy were compromised (by the same government that put health care privacy laws in place, no less). But it’s sad because all this chaos has not resulted in the apprehension of any terrorists because they always seem to be one step ahead. In some cave somewhere, Osama Bin Laden is having a good belly-laugh as he sees the pictures and videos of Americans being subjected to nearly the same kind of screenings that people who have already been found guilty of crimes receive. It’s now guilty until proven innocent in America. The terrorists have won as the Fourth Amendment crumbles.
          When will we say, as a free people, “This is the line and you may not cross it.”?


“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Benjamin Franklin


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