Thursday, 22 April 2010

Decency Takes Flight

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Becky AkersThe War to Terrorize Americans continues. This week our fearless rulers protected us from a 93-year-old invalid in a wheelchair, her munchies, and her concerned daughter when they tried Nadine Hays of Camarillo, CA, “for allegedly hitting a federal security agent who tried to take her mother’s applesauce and other snacks at Bob Hope Airport.”

But the only thing taking a hit was the truth, as the checkpoint’s surveillance video proves. No surprise there: truth is always a casualty when passengers collide with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Mrs. Hays was flying from Burbank with her mother, Eleanor Albrecht, who suffered from dementia, diarrhea, dehydration, and other nonagenarian ailments, to a grandson’s wedding in Nashville last April. A friend accompanied them to help care for Mrs. Albrecht.

Thanks to the government’s stranglehold on aviation, flying has become an ordeal even for young folks in good health, let alone a lady of Mrs. Albrecht’s age and fragility. So her daughter packed an ice chest with “milk to make her specially formulated protein drink, grapes, sliced cheese, salami, cottage cheese and applesauce,” as Mrs. Hays put it.

Only the milk and possibly the cottage cheese and applesauce violate the TSA’s absurd jihad against liquids (which, as numerous experts have testified, does nothing to prevent terrorism and everything to inconvenience passengers while empowering the cruel cretins the TSA hires). But the TSA itself claims to waive its nonsense for “persons with disabilities and medical conditions”: they may carry onboard “liquids including water, juice, or liquid nutrition or gels….” So Mrs. Hays was well within her “rights” as the Amerikan Homeland now defines them.

That was news to the screener and supervisor persecuting our three ladies that day. Indeed, both public servants seemed acquainted with only one of their employer’s rules: “No person may interfere with, assault, threaten, or intimidate screening personnel in the performance of their screening duties” — which now include picking on the infirm and elderly. While one screener groped Mrs. Albrecht, upsetting the poor dear so badly that her watching friend cried, Mrs. Hays tells us another screener “started removing items from the ice chest saying ‘You can’t take this, you can’t take this.’ ... I told her the food was for my 93-year old mother (I pointed to her) and that she had special needs; this did not change her mind. I immediately asked her for her supervisor. Her supervisor came over and agreed that none of the items could go on board.”

Screener and supervisor then picked up the ice chest as if to walk off with it. At this point, Mrs. Hays’ cooler somehow becomes ownerless in the TSA’s summary of her crimes: “You wrest[ed] a cooler containing prohibited liquids away from a TSA officer.” But those of us with morals uncorrupted by the State will agree with Mrs. Hays when she says that “…the ice chest and its contents were my property. At which point in the screening process do I relinquish this right? … Yes, I did struggle to regain my personal property….”

Pause to ponder the lunacy and jaw-dropping cruelty of the TSA in particular and the War on Terror in general. We aren’t talking a bomb, but an ice chest; not explosives, but applesauce; not criminals, but a frail great-grandmother who requires constant care, her 57-year-old daughter, and their sympathetic friend. Anyone with even a speck of decency would have applauded Mrs. Hays and her companion and lent a courteous hand to ease their way.

Instead, two of the TSA’s petty tyrants pretend these exemplary women are terrorists and that applesauce might explode. On that pretext, they bully, torment and mock them as they have countless others for the last eight years. Where does the TSA find these savages? And why do we permit it to sic them on us? Why haven’t we abandoned the skies and taken to the streets demanding that Congress disband this vile agency?

Alas, our valiant heroine “struggled” with the savages, during which the TSA insists that she “struck a Lead Transportation Security Officer in the arm with a closed fist.” The videotape, logic, and the TSA’s record for mendacity all confirm that the agency lies.

First, in the ten minutes of her ordeal captured on tape, Mrs. Hays never hits anyone. We see her gesticulating, pointing at her mother, trying to hold onto her ice chest as the savages attempt to steal it under her very nose. One savage laughs, presumably at her victim’s distress. But we never see Mrs. Hays strike anyone. Could she have done so when the tape ends? Unlikely, since we also see her leave the checkpoint for her gate while the cops who arrest her arrive a few seconds later.

Then there’s the sheer impossibility, as Mrs. Hays points out. She quotes from the police report on her arrest — "S[uspect]/HAYS makes a fist and strikes TSA supervisor on the left hand, while grabbing her arm" — then asks, “How can I have my hand on the ice chest, make a fist to strike the TSA supervisor, and grab her on the arm all at the same time? I only have 2 hands. This simply did not happen at all.”

Finally, in any contest between the TSA and a passenger, always believe the passenger. As with politicians, you can tell the TSA is lying when its lips move. It was recently and very publicly caught in some of its whoppers: documents that a FOIA request pried loose show that the agency’s strip-search machines, which it euphemizes as “advanced imaging technology,” do indeed store images of our naked bodies. Yet the TSA promised over and over again, in press releases, on its website, and during interviews, that the gizmos “have zero storage capability.”

No matter: cops egged this malevolent agency’s employees to make a “citizen’s arrest” of a woman who foots their salaries, then cuffed Mrs. Hays. She was arraigned last April, and the case finally went to trial this week — sans a weapon other than applesauce, a motive other than caring for an elderly relative, and a crime other than putting a mother’s needs ahead of the State’s demands.

On Tuesday, “A Glendale Superior Court judge said … the misdemeanor battery charge against Nadine Hays would be dismissed if she stayed out of trouble for six months.” Not a word against the savages who brutalized her, the agency that trumped up charges despite the clear evidence of its own videotape, or the cops eagerly abetting both. Funny, isn’t it, but “staying out of trouble” used to be a no-brainer for women of a certain age who, like Mrs. Hays, have “never had an encounter with the law.”

Not anymore.

Becky Akers, an expert on the American Revolution, writes frequently about issues related to security and privacy. Her articles and columns have been published by, The Freeman, Military History Magazine, American History Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Post, and other publications.

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