“I thought I was gonna die in there.”
Those are the words not of a former prisoner of a communist gulag but of 65-year-old American James Stewart, describing his seven days in southern California jails. Stewart says he was subjected to “torture” and “brutality” including sleep deprivation, starvation, hypothermia, involuntary medical testing, highly unsanitary conditions, and solitary confinement — all because he had the temerity to sell raw milk to willing customers.
Another day, another sticky-fingered Transportation Security Administration agent caught stealing from airline passengers: According to the Associated Press, 31-year-old Alexandra Schmid, a TSA screener at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, allegedly helped herself to a cool $5,000 from a passenger’s jacket as it passed along an X-ray conveyor belt on February 1. The passenger, a native of Bangladesh, noticed the money was missing as soon as he retrieved his jacket, at which point he reported the theft.
Steal $40,000 from a bank, and you’ll spend a decade or two in prison. Steal $40,000 from an airplane passenger’s luggage and you’ll get six months — if you’re a Transportation Security Administration employee, that is.
A state Governor and her appointees obstruct an investigation into repeated coverups of child rape. When they find they can no longer stave off the inevitable, they destroy the evidence. Along the way they try to have the prosecutor disbarred. The Governor later becomes a member of the President’s Cabinet.
Opponents of the Transportation Security Administration’s invasive pat-downs of airline passengers may be on the verge of obtaining a new weapon for their fight. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is considering changing its definition of rape in a way that could criminalize TSA agents’ groping of passengers’ private parts.
On November 19, the New York Police Department arrested 27-year-old Jose Pimentel (left) on charges of plotting to explode pipe bombs in New York City and the surrounding area. The next day city officials called a press conference to announce the NYPD’s great triumph in preventing terrorism by an alleged “al-Qaeda sympathizer” whom Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly described as “a total lone wolf.”
While other Transportation Security Administration employees were sticking their hands in other people’s pants, one of them was sticking other people’s property in his own pants, according to the Broward County, Florida, Sheriff’s office. Police report that 30-year-old Nelson Santiago, a TSA screener at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, was spotted stuffing an iPad from a passenger’s luggage into his pants. Under questioning, they say, he admitted to having stolen “computers, GPS devices, and video cameras from luggage he was screening” over the past six months, according to Miami/Fort Lauderdale TV station WPLG. Detectives estimate that Santiago expropriated over $50,000 worth of electronics.
The Texas legislature has for some time now been considering legislation to criminalize the Transportation Security Administration’s groping of airplane passengers. The Lone Star State has not, however, tried to get the entire TSA banished from its borders, and with good reason: Last year the state made $300,000 from the sale of items confiscated by TSA agents.
Show business and militarized law enforcement combined to produce an expensive, frightening spectacle in Laveen, Arizona: the use of a SWAT team, a bomb robot, and even a tank to prevent — wait for it — cruelty to chickens.