Thursday, February 18, 2010

T.S.A. hard at work swabbing granny

Posted by Traci Skene

We were waiting to board our flight out of Lehigh Valley International Airport (bound for Minneapolis--home of the infamous Larry Craig men's room) when, just before 6 AM, a gaggle of T.S.A. agents waddled into the boarding area.

Looking more like the cast of Reno 911!, the three men and three women announced that they were going to check our identifications yet again. The sleepy travelers groaned but dutifully pulled driver's licenses and passports out of their carry-on.

One of them, a chubtastic female officer who's pants must have been designed by the Grinch (they were two sizes too small) was clutching a bottle of liquid and a vial of swabs. Could this be the swabbing we just read about or was she planning on randomly dying somebody's hair?

Was the TSA already expanding the explosive trace detection (ETD) program just days after the headline appeared on Drudge? Up until now, the T.S.A. swabbed some luggage and "other objects," but now they were getting tough and swabbing palms! And by palms, I don't mean tropical plants.
Security experts consulted by CNN said swabbing hands is a good move, and privacy advocates said they support the new swabbing protocols, provided the agency tests only for security-related objects and does not discriminate when it selects people to be tested.
Swabbing protocols? Is that the same thing as when Q-Tip tells you not to put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow?

All this is going through my head as I noticed a super stylish, white-haired, sixty-something traveler to my immediate left. As I was admiring her lime green hoodie, she was approached by the vial-carrying agent. Maybe this was about hair dye after all?! Perhaps TLC was filming a new make-over show where TSA agents give travelers a whole new 'do called "Sheer Terror!"

No such luck. In a flash, our Talbot-clad granny was being checked for explosives. I'm guessing all they found was Gold Bond lotion.

Wow, TSA! You really don't discriminate. We get it. Thank you for saving us from Dame Judi Dench.

Froma Harrop disagrees with me in her piece "Why Profiling Can't Ensure Airline Security."
This notion that some people are obviously innocent and some are not is clearly useless in airline security. If airport security ever waves grannies past the body-imaging machines, then white-haired ladies on walkers will be the very ones we should be afraid to fly with.
Really? Old ladies on walkers can't even get the lids off bottles of extra strength Tylenol. Do you really think they can bring down a passenger plane?

No! But I'll tell you who can bring down a passenger plane. A Muslim man between the age of 21-40. How do I know this? Because it happened!

I don't mind taking off my shoes, putting my liquids in tiny bottles or even getting a full body scan (although now I'm going to have to get a bikini wax before heading to the airport.) But, without profiling the people who may actually want to do us harm, checking me out is a waste of time, money and resources.

Someday, I'm going to be a white-haired old lady. Let's hope by then either the terrorists will be dead or, at the very least, political correctness will be something we read about in history books.

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