Janet Napolitano, the head of Homeland Security, said yesterday that she’s “open” to possible airport security “adjustments.” This, on the day that John Tnler became an Internet sensation with his videos showing the sheer black-is-white-up-is-down mentality of the TSA. Napolitano stressed that the increased security measures, prickly as they may seem, are, in fact, put in place for our protection. Right.
In the same breath, however, Napolitano pretty much brushed aside and any all criticism, legitimate or otherwise, by saying “if people want to travel by some other means…”
Believe me: I’d like nothing more than to hitch a wagon and head westward for several weeks, but I don’t even think it’s possible in 2010 (nearly 2011) to book a boat trip to from New York to London. I actually looked into that last year since I thought it could be a fun adventure, a boat from New York to London. Nearest I can tell, there’s no such thing as passenger ship cross-Atlantic travel anymore.
Back to John Tyner. Surely you saw the videos he posted online that show his altercation at a San Diego airport. Long story short (not to be confused with Colin Quinn’s new Broadway show), Tyner had checked the TSA Web site before visiting the airport to see if it used the new full-body scanners. The Web site said the airport did not have those scanners, so Tyler goes to the airport as scheduled.
When he went there, there was the full-body scanner. He opted out of the scan, but then refused to be felt up by the TSA officer. At this point, all he wanted to do was get a refund for his ticket, then go home. But of course, the TSA said he was breaking all sorts of laws by leaving the security area (despite being directed away by security officials), and he now faces an $11,000 fine. Oh, sure, he was told that he was facing a $10,000 fine, but that, according to the TSA, was “the old fine.”
Is that even allowed? You’re told you’ve committed a fineable offense, told the amount you’d be fined, but then the very next day you’re facing a larger fine?
That hardly seems fair.
In any event, there will be a full investigation of the Tyner incident.
One thing I’d like to know: what’s the point of the $10,000 (or $11,000!) fine? Is that supposed to be some sort of terror deterrent?
If there’s one thing I’d like to see come out of all of this, it’s that the TSA, and government as a whole, talk to us like adults. Please don’t tell me these nonsense rules are “for my protection” and expect me not to roll my eyes in disbelief. I’d be far happier if the government said, “Yeah, we’re doing feeling up your children in order to give the appearance of being serious about security, but the truth of the matter is if someone truly wanted to cause trouble there’s not a whole lot we’d be able to do about it. We can try to prevent attacks from happening, but we’re not going to pretend that the system is bulletproof.”
But of course that will never happen.