Thursday, November 01, 2007

Airport Security Madness

Airport Security agents often have more power and less accountability than just about any other organization imaginable. I'd like to draw attentions to a few recent particularly-egregious examples.

* A Polish immigrant dies in police custody in a Vancouver airport after being kept in a sealed room for ten hours and then tasered twice, as his mother waits across the security line. LINK

* Finnish folk band falsely accused, abused and violated by beady-eyed, moron security:
". . . an ICE agent approached the long-haired male musician and began jabbing his finger into the poor guy’s face and screaming, "You’re a criminal! Don’t deny it! We know you’re a criminal!" The musician, whose English is limited, tried to explain what he was doing in the country, but to no avail. The agent went on with the tantrum.

Before long, the entire group was accosted by agents – eventually eight ICE agents in all were involved in the incident -- all screaming and carrying on like a military patrol kicking in doors in Anbar Province. Before long the group’s luggage had been dumped in the center of the room and, while other passengers waited to get through Immigration and Customs, searched.

Failing to discover any contraband, the ICE agents - -rather than releasing the group with an apology – changed tack and decided that its real offense was to try to enter the country under false pretenses. Because the artists were not being paid to tour – the University was covering its expenses – they did not all have work visas, just passports. LINK

* Woman detained after becoming angry for a missed flight, and eventually choked to death by her own handcuffs (the imaginative, official story is that she choked herself with the two-inch chain). LINK

This is literally just the tip of the iceberg. The first people that travelers into America meet are often the most horrible, paranoid, cruel and ignorant representatives of our citizenry. We are often merely exporting the worst attributes of us around the world. The problem isn't particular to America, but as one of the busiest travel areas in the world, we see far too many violations of trust.

Getting angry or upset at airport security puts you under their mercy. When the power of arrest is used for personal revenge and satisfaction, you have no recourse - your only representatives to the outside world are your tormenters. When the innocence of these victims is inevitably proven, do authorities back off their charges? No - they pursue them out of embarrassment.

Let's professionalize our airport security and eliminate that rotten 10%. It will be well worth the investment and dignify the rest.

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