So, I can't remember exactly how I found them, but I started following the TSA on Twitter. I guess when your image is shot, you do what anyone would do – start a blog and Twitter feed to try and repair your image. However, it's quite obvious that the blog is designed to be read by people who never use air travel, because they blow so much smoke up my butt, I'm afraid to burp.
The latest blog talks a story I'm sure you've all at least heard about, if not, you've gotten the email:
As the Chalk Leader for my flight home from Afghanistan, I witnessed the following:
When we were on our way back from Afghanistan, we flew out of Baghram Air Field. We went through customs at BAF, full body scanners (no groping), had all of our bags searched, the whole nine yards.
Our first stop was Shannon, Ireland to refuel. After that, we had to stop at Indianapolis, Indiana to drop off about 100 folks from the Indiana National Guard. That’s where the stupid started.
First, everyone was forced to get off the plane–even though the plane wasn’t refueling again. All 330 people got off that plane, rather than let the 100 people from the ING get off. We were filed from the plane to a holding area. No vending machines, no means of escape. Only a male/female latrine.
It’s probably important to mention that we were ALL carrying weapons. Everyone was carrying an M4 Carbine (rifle) and some, like me, were also carrying an M9 pistol. Oh, and our gunners had M-240B machine guns. Of course, the weapons weren’t loaded. And we had been cleared of all ammo well before we even got to customs at Baghram, then AGAIN at customs.
The TSA personnel at the airport seriously considered making us unload all of the baggage from the SECURE cargo hold to have it reinspected. Keep in mind, this cargo had been unpacked, inspected piece by piece by U.S. Customs officials, resealed and had bomb-sniffing dogs give it a one-hour run through. After two hours of sitting in this holding area, the TSA decided not to reinspect our Cargo–just to inspect us again: Soldiers on the way home from war, who had already been inspected, reinspected and kept in a SECURE holding area for 2 hours. Ok, whatever. So we lined up to go through security AGAIN....
CJ tells the rest of this story, that I have read other places. THEN he continues:
To be fair, the TSA seems to have debunked at least part of this popular story by posting a response from the Director of Public Affairs of the Indiana National Guard specifically discussing the airport in question. The problem, though, is that they're still lying through their teeth about a very real issue: those dangerous fingernail clippers on planes.
I have PERSONALLY had fingernail clippers taken away from me on more than one occasion since 2003. And I'm not the only one. If you read the comments of their blog that specifically addresses nail clippers, you'll see many people that have had them taken away. So, either the TSA is lying to American public, or they can't control their TSOs!
Not only that, but I've also had other non-threatening devices taken from me IN UNIFORM!! The latest example was within the past year. In uniform, I've had a Gerber tool taken away from me (actually, I just refused to enter and hid it within the airport until I returned). Given, my Gerber has a fold out knife, but I WAS IN A MILITARY UNIFORM!
My particular Gerber happens to come with a separate, hand held strap cutter. It is designed to quickly cut away seatbelts in the event of a roll-over or other emergency in which you are unable to unbuckle yourself. It has no sharp points on it with which one could cut someone, stab someone, slice someone, etc. Unless the victim is as thin as about 10 sheets of paper, the device is completely useless for doing harm. I've traversed the country with this thing numerous times, but when I was returning from a trip the TSA pulled me aside and began searching my bag. I had no idea what they were searching for. They couldn't find what they were looking for and I asked if I could reach in and pull something things out they may have seen on their screens. Of course, I couldn't see their screen so I had no idea. Then, the agent pulls out my strap cutter.
"This is it," he proclaimed. "You can't have this."
I asked him why and he said it could be used as a weapon. I asked him how and he pointed to the area in which the strap is cut. I tried to fit my smallest finger and could not. He could not explain how it could be used as a weapon but I couldn't take it on the plane. A Soldier. This was obviously pathetic nonsense so I demanded to speak to the supervisor. She came over and gave me and an apologetic sob story, but "those are the rules."...
CJ does have much more to say, including addressing what parts of the US Constitution the TSA violates every single day. All a must read, and you can find it here.
Know your rights, America!