Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 551, January 3, 2010

"Perpetual tea parties for perpetual peace—and freedom."

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Holidays With The Heimatsicherheitsministerium
by Francis A Ney, Jr.
Travel Gestapo Editor

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

The Department of Homeland Security is trying very hard to live up to their German antecedents. Too bad they suck at it.

I spent most of Christmas Eve day having violent blue thoughts of the government drones who operate our nation's passenger rail system. Thanks to a power failure (AMTRAK) and the attitude of a regional rail service (MTA/MARC) that decided no one needed the late train on Christmas Eve, I had to abort my planned long-weekend visit with the woman I've partnered for 15 years.

Late Christmas day I learned those people are geniuses compared to TSA and DHS.

We start with a Nigerian jihadist who decided that blowing up an airplane over Detroit would be a good idea. Good for Detroit, perhaps, not so good for the other 230+ passengers, some of whom overwhelmed the not-so-smart-bomb and foiled the plan. Fortunately, none of those passengers were arrested for impersonating Federal Air Marshals. Later, it was learned that all the anti-terrorism security apparatchiks who harass and infiltrate political dissidents, steal water bottles and penknives, arrest photographers, detain political workers for carrying cash donations, and otherwise act like East German Secret Police in a Film Noir nonetheless failed utterly to prevent the Underwear Bomber from entering US airspace despite being warned of him over three months ago by his own father.

The rational response to this event, after taking Jerry Jihad into custody, should have been "Is that the best you can do?" while making the "L" shape on our collective foreheads. The actual response resembled a school girl on a kitchen chair lifting her skirts and squealing while a mouse scurries around her. I refer, of course, to TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06, which among other things chained passengers to their seats in the last hour of flight, without so much as a magazine allowed in their laps, no airphones, no electronic devices, no in-flight entertainment, and definitely no pointing out of landmarks to the passengers by the flight crew. So after proving that current rules and procedures were completely worthless, the response is to enact even more worthless procedures, encouraging foreign tourists to go somewhere else.

Spurred on by this level of government hysteria, the next day another Nigerian, suffering from food poisoning, was arrested off the same flight for spending too long in the aircraft restroom, while two other passengers were arrested off of a flight in Phoenix for being brown and speaking to each other in a foreign language. Welcome to Amerika, land of the fee and the home of the slave. No wonder people are planning travel itineraries to completely avoid the United States.

But just like Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter books, Homeland Security has to be seen doing something to keep all the bleating sheep safe. Since they can't find Osama Yo Mama, and can't keep religious fanatics off airplanes, what can they do? Go after soft targets like bloggers Steven Frischling, Chris Elliott, and Ghod knows how many others. Steve and Chris received the dreaded knocks on the door and demands to turn over information on how they received the "secret" security directive mentioned earlier:

Frischling, a freelance travel writer and photographer in Connecticut who writes a blog for the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, said the two agents who visited him arrived around 7 p.m. Tuesday, were armed and threatened him with a criminal search warrant if he didn't provide the name of his source. They also threatened to get him fired from his KLM job and indicated they could get him designated a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel and do his job.

"They were indicating there would be significant ramifications if I didn't cooperate," said Frischling, who was home alone with his three children when the agents arrived. "It's not hard to intimidate someone when they're holding a 3-year-old [child] in their hands. My wife works at night. I go to jail, and my kids are here with nobody."

Was this really necessary? How about those Special-Ed Agents who not only had to go to WalMart to buy a hard drive to copy files but then couldn't get it to work? And only people who live under rocks and in caves (and Special-Ed Agents) don't know that "ICE" in your cell phone address book means "In Case of Emergency" and not some special code to flag your "source".

As of 8PM EST New Year's Eve, Frischling announced via FlyerTalk that TSA's Deputy Chief Counsel for Enforcement had called him and stated the actions against both bloggers had been dropped. All well and good, but the question remains why the heavy-handed Gestapo boots on the neck in the first place? It smacks of intimidation, and what the Supreme Court has called a violation of a fundamental civil right. I would hope this issue is pursued in the coming year.

Then there's Jackboot Janet Deux, a woman who didn't have the ovaries to reign in the worst sheriff in the world while she was governor, telling everyone that "the system worked." Really? The only part I saw working was the Title 10 Section 311 unincorporated militia, which acted to keep the whackjob from blowing up their aircraft. If this is a TSA/DHS success, Ghod Help Us All when the "spectacular failure" happens.

Finally, you would have thought TSA would have learned their lesson the first time around, but yet another "secret" document has surfaced on the internet with faulty PDF redaction. One very good thing about it is that once again questions are being asked as to the validity of those redactions. In my opinion, a more valid question to the TSA at large would be "Did yo mama drop you on yer head when you wuz a baby?"

This is the face of Homeland Security (which sounds better in the Original German). Osama Bin Laden is pissing his pants laughing. Where else can you send a few thousand dollars and a patsy and cause an entire government department to collectively spin their heads like a bad horror movie?

Is it any wonder that the actions of the collective world governments in the recent movie "2012" are completely believable?


Frank is a computer consultant and professional gadfly. He serves this publication as Travel Gestapo Editor.


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