While perusing the news this morning with my cup of tea, I fell upon the story of one John Tyner, an ordinary 31-year-old man in San Diego. He planned to go hunting with his father-in-law, and was flying to meet him.
John prefers not to go through the invasive body scanning machines at airport security. These machines are not metal detectors. They basically see through one's clothing and submit the traveler to a total strip search. The screen is viewed by a TSA agent in another room, who the traveler doesn't see. The traveler's face is obscured, but all else is shown.
John found that rather offensive. He checked and thought he'd picked an airport without such machines.
He was wrong. He asked not to go through the machine, when he was randomly selected to do so. That's fine, they said. Then we'll have to pat you down.
No problem, John said.
And we'll have to do a groin search too, they added.
I don't think so, John replied.
And thus started all his trouble.
You can read all about it, and listen to the audio from his cell phone which recorded it all, on his blog post.
John bought a ticket.
John refused invasive security screenings.
John was told he could not fly.
John happily agreed to leave.
TSA escorted him out of security.
He got his ticket refunded (Yay for American Airlines!! They know who butters their bread!)
The TSA told him that if he left the airport, he'd be subject to a civil law suit and a $10,000 fine.
To avoid the suit and fine, he'd have to go back through the same screening he'd just refused.
??? Does this sound like a really bad Twilight Zone episode? Can you say CIRCULAR PLOT?
I am no conspiracy theorist. I've never been to a Tea Party event. I don't think the US gov't blew up the towers, or assassinated Kennedy. And I do think we walked on the moon. But man -- I gotta say, this stuff is ludicrous. I didn't like flying before. I hated flying to England 2 years ago, and I was nervous flying to Iowa recently. This is the nail in the coffin. I don't want to experience what John Tyner did, and there's no guarantee that I won't, if I try to fly.
What do we do about airport security, in this era of terrorists? First, I think it's doubtful that the terrorists will use the exact same methods again. So, if we devote all our time and energies to combating airline bombings, we'll probably be two steps behind them; they'll be on to the next method (Ft. Hood? Times Square?), and we'll be tied up in useless regulation.
Second, if our nation were truly secure in its borders, screenings like this on domestic flights would be unnecessary. You may well disagree with me, but I think it's ludicrous for the federal gov't to treat us, its citizens, as criminals, while knowingly allowing non-citizen criminals to remain in the land. And I'm not just referring to our Mexican border. I'm more concerned with known Muslim extremists who are in this country, recruiting ex-cons as they are released from prison, and training them. Why does our gov't tolerate such things?
And then they treat John Tyner like a criminal.