Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The new New Deal

Who decides on airport security measures? Who pays for them? Is this the new New Deal? Workfare? Has the government now decided that instead of building new roads, the environmentally correct thing is to hire people to watch X-ray screens and feel out attractive passengers?

We all know that the Cosmpolitan Life took a turn for the worse after 9/11. For the first few months after the attack, two hour waits in X-ray lines culminated with confiscation of our nail clippers – or, for those of us alert enough to protest, an option to break the nail file off the nail clipper and thus make it kosher for carry-on luggage…

Gradually, the improvement in metal detector sensitivity started making almost every object of clothing subject to alarm. X-ray lines started resembling pajama parties. Remove any sweaters, scarves, shoes, belts…

One day, going through the metal detector and looking ahead at a slight, red-haired man putting his belt back on I said; “You look familiar.”

“My name is Alan Dershowitz” he said.

“Oh”, I said…

This Sunday, however, brought post 9/11 extremism to a new level. Or maybe I just then became aware of it. I had decided to check my luggage. This is the cardinal no-no for an experienced traveler, and I never do it, but weekend lethargy had dulled my wits.

The sidewalk by the airport terminal was jammed with people. The new TSA (Transport Security Authority?) directive is to X-ray all luggage in the presence of its owner… Large crews were at work, slowly and diligently opening each piece of luggage, feeling around, taking out and examining each of underwear. They wore rubber gloves - condom equivalents – designed to protect the luggage from ATD’s (Airport Transmitted Diseases) (????).

As we stood line, I felt my skin tingling. We were all sitting ducks. What would it take for someone to drive up, park his car, walk quickly away, and bam!!!, 30 seconds later, blow a hundred people to smithereens?….

I’d like to meet the person who designs these airport security measures. I imagine a mad bureaucrat slaving away in a tiny office, typing out memos that get approved by his superiors without even a glance, slowly but surely ballooning our budget deficit with “unavoidable” expenses…


At 4:17 AM, Blogger Thinker said...

I know, it's been a few months, and no one's going to read this anyway, but here we go.

Last summer I went on a trip US-Turkey-Israel. Now, I've seen US and Israeli security already. I like American security. It gives me something to laugh at while I'm waiting in security lines.

The surprising part was that when I stopped in Istanbul, in a country whose total government security budget is probably a fraction of that the US uses, and, instead of the usual barely high school graduates staring at X-ray screens, I was confronted with Turks speaking better English than I do, obviously college-educated, actually checking every person through the gate. They checked my records and asked why I was entering and leaving Turkey on different passports and - here's the big thing - they did searches OUTSIDE of the checking lobby.


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