Thursday, September 08, 2005

Naked flight

Among the many inexplicable hold-ups, tie-ups, and frig-ups committed by incompetent government responding to Hurricane Katrina comes this report, as shown on Tuesday's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, from NBC's Lisa Myers, on the contribution of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to the boondoggled evacuation of New Orleans.

MYERS: One huge bottleneck in the evacuation, the New Orleans Airport.

(on camera): Officials say flights were delayed while screeners and air marshals were flown in to comply with post-9/11 security requirements and then further delayed because screening machines were not working. Finally, someone at Homeland Security signed an order to allow evacuees to be screened by hand.

What makes this all the more remarkable is the decision, made just a week or so before the storm, to change TSA guidelines to allow a range of small weaponry aboard passenger aircraft. In the Washington Post, Sarah Kehaulani Goo reported:

An agency panel has recommended allowing passengers to bring knives and scissors less than 5 inches long aboard airplanes, as well as ice picks, throwing stars, and bows and arrows...Officials familiar with the plans say the TSA's new leader, Edmund S. "Kip" Hawley, and other top security officials are no longer as concerned about another Sept. 11-style hijacking as they are about other threats, such as suicide bombers boarding airplanes.

In a fit of elation, your blogstress confided to her friend, Mr. Furley, her delight in being able to return her throwing star to her cosmetic kit.

Not so fast, said Mr. Furley, explaining that even without a throwing star--or any other dangerous or contraband item--in one's bag, TSA can easily find a reason to give one the full Checkpoint-Charlie treatment. He writes:

When I returned on my ever so eventful journey from California, I was given a boarding pass with “SSSS” at the bottom. I was happy: after a night of poker, a man likes to see four of any kind. My happiness was short-lived, as I remembered hearing this was the “random” search code.

I aborted my plan to hijack a plane. (It was going to Vegas anyhow; why would I want to divert this flight to anywhere else?) So I got the full shakedown... I sat next to senior citizen who was also given the dreaded SSSS by the new SS troops.

I think the government should be responsible for preventing the large-scale terrorist attacks like nukes, smallpox, and Mariah Carey
diva-meltdowns that shut down our vast tabloid TV networks. The little stuff like plane-jackings--I would prefer that the public take care of this. I want to kick some terrorist ass, too...

If, however, public intervention and participation is a part of the larger scheme of Homeland Defense, I demand that all passengers get a weapon of their choice, with only business class getting gun-power-based systems, and coach getting police clubs or large MagLight flashlights.

Armed passengers notwithstanding, Mr. Furley offers an even simpler solution to those long lines at the passenger screening stations:

I recommend that everyone travel naked. My friends’ kids...have these backpacks that we love: they are see-thru vinyl, typically with Dora the Explorer or the Wiggles emblazoned. I assume this is so that if they are packing guns, the parents can be fully informed.

Think of how mandatory clear backpacks would make those encounters at the Israel-Palestine border so much more festive.

I once thought the future of air travel was gravity-defying cold-fusion powered hovercraft trickled down so that Everyman could travel like Buck Rogers. Now our only hope is Nude Travel with Clear Vinyl Packbacks.

On a good note, I understand W has declared war on all hurricanes that affect Red States. I feel safer already.

Well, thinks your Webwench, nude travel in America would certainly justify the absence of in-flight food service. (However, any girl lucky enough to travel al fresco with Mr. Furley might be in for quite a treat.)

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