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Security Run Amok - a true story

By hillct in MLP
Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 11:03:05 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

In this very interesting article, a freelance journalist describes his experiences with the new security precautions in place at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Hopefully this is the exception, not the rule, but there needs to be some logic to the security precautions put in place within airports and elsewhere. The idea that I might be detained and have my property confiscated simply for wearing a black leather jacket in an airport is deeply disturbing.

Also, while the presence of national guardsmen in airports is a measure designed for deterrence, more than anything else, how many of the other measures we've seen taken in the past month are simply window dressing?


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Current Security Precautions are:
o Insufficient to Address Current Risk 8%
o Perfectly reasonable 4%
o Understandable under the circumstances 4%
o Questionable even given recent events 48%
o Totally Unacceptable 33%

Votes: 68
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o this very interesting article
o Los Angeles International Airport
o Also by hillct

Display: Sort:
Security Run Amok - a true story | 81 comments (71 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Reading Material (4.60 / 23) (#4)
by garth on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 01:20:52 AM EST

Looks like you can also be banned from flying depending on your selection of reading material.

Just Great... (4.70 / 10) (#28)
by Matrix on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 02:40:42 PM EST

That's scary and totally believable. After all, if the airline says that you cracked a joke about bombs, the authorities are going to believe them. What reason do they have to lie? (Heh) What's next, I get pulled off for reading a sci-fi book with an exploding starship on the cover? Or reading a book on cryptography?

As usual, the guards are most watchful after the thief's stolen the crown jewels, so to speak. And of course, its all ineffective show. Do they really think any of Bin Laden's terrorists would carry such an obvious tip-off book onto the plane with them? If they're caught, its not going to be because they've got a valid (or invalid, for that matter) drivers' license.

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

We've forgotten... (2.33 / 6) (#39)
by badturtle on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 12:13:35 AM EST

that we have a thing in this country called the Constitution. In it are several things that are ignored by many people today, especially in airports. We have freedom of speech, yet we find manditory arrest for telling a joke. We have the right to be free of unwaranted searches, yet airport security can look at anything you have. The Constitution, it seems, has been replaced with the same tactics endorsed by leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, and Lincoln. America is nothing without Liberty. We exist as a nation because of and for Liberty. Other nations hate us because they are jealous of our Liberty. The terrorists must have known that the unAmerican bastards in administrative postions in the FAA and in legislatures across the nation would try to take away our Liberties, giving them a greater incentive to attack us. The terrorists seem to have won. America is becoming like the facisist countries we have destroyed. We are allowing foreigners to dictate our actions, from the united nations on down to individual foreigners. America used to be run by Americans. If someone in another country tried to tell us what to do, we would laugh at them, or in extreme cases, attack and destroy them. Now, we allow them to take away that which makes us Americans. Everyday, more Liberties are taken away. Freedom to speak your mind, to be heard, to assemble people together, to defend yourself and your country, freedom to be your own person, are being taken away. Congress has even proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would change the First Amendment, taking away freedom of speech. They would take away the right to burn a flag. While I don't condone this act and think it to be a terrible thing to do, I would defend someone's right to do that because one of the things that flag stands for is the right to communicate your beliefs. If burning a flag is your prefered way to do it, go ahead. If the right to burn that flag is taken away, the meaning of that flag is also taken, turning it into a worthless cloth. By allowing all of these infringements on our rights, we are allowing those who hate us to turn us into what they want. They want us to be like them because they can't handle the freedom that we have. They can't do it, so they think we shouldn't be allowed to do it either. People who would give up those freedoms do not deserve them. I'm sure the Canadians, Australians, English, and people in many other countries with little to no concept of Liberty have room for people like Charles Schumer, Diane Feinstein, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton. They can have parties there with their friends, people like Kofi Anon, Osama bin Laden, and if he were still living Josef Stalin. Events like the recent infringments on Liberty are proof that we need to be more vigilent in our defense of Liberty. We can't allow ourselves to believe that bad things can happen here. We've had genocidal wars, terrorism, and just about everything else bad that you can think of. Totalitarianism is possible too, especialy in our increasingly democratic system. Eventually, the people could decide they don't want to run things for themselves anymore. The only solution is to educate the people on their rights as ensured in the Constitution, a document which gives no rights, but makes guarantees for those rights that are given by a higher power, whether you belive in God, Allah, or just the universe. There has never been a nation in the world since people began forming nations that has been more free than the United States. We should not let that change.

[ Parent ]
It would have been compelling... (3.38 / 13) (#6)
by Whyaduck on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 03:12:46 AM EST

...if the author could have distanced the story from his feelings a little bit. No, he didn't have to be clinical, but he could have left out the "I also felt violated," schtick. "'I'm a journalist!' I yelled," is another favorite. The word journalist occurs 13 times in the article...every chance the guy gets he's telling people "I'm a journalist." It just seems a little grandiose and silly to me (especially since he seems to spend most of his time as a food critic...click on his name to see). Also, it would have been nice if he once admitted that someone taking pictures of security checkpoints and scribbling notes as soon as he landed in his seat just might make people a little nervous (whether it really was another passenger, or just the security personnel). Yet, despite all the shortcomings it's important that people draw attention to this kind of thing. Good link.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
and a torso even more so.

He Did... (3.00 / 3) (#11)
by snowlion on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 04:58:19 AM EST

It's in the middle. Dig it up for yourself. While he's being interrogated for an hour or two, I believe.

Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]
You don't mean this: (4.00 / 3) (#26)
by Whyaduck on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 01:45:18 PM EST

At the same time, when a half-dozen different cops tell you you've done something wrong for two hours straight, there's a tendency to start believing them, even if you haven't done anything. That shadow of a doubt regarding my rights as a citizen and a journalist in the so-called sterile zone kept telling me that considering the "war" was on, I should have known better, that I deserved to have my photographs erased, my notebook confiscated. The enormous pressure to "stand united" with the country in the War on Terrorism added to my feelings of guilt.
do you? I read the article before I posted, and I've just followed your suggestion and did some digging, but, aside from a few references to people looking at him nervously, that's about all I found. But, when someone acts like this:
...I took off my backpack and sat down on the floor behind the check-in counter in a yoga position as the police continued to stand around. I closed my eyes and began taking deep breaths. When I opened my eyes, a male passenger in the boarding area was staring at me like I was the dog-faced boy at the circus.
"I'm a journalist!" I yelled. His brow furrowed in concern, then he moved away. Other people in the boarding area were regarding me nervously.
and doesn't understand what would make people nervous about him, I say that person is refusing to analyze his own behavior. As I said before, the guard was wrong to delete his photos and confiscate his notes. That's something I want to know about. But that doesn't make the linked article a good piece of journalism.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
and a torso even more so.

[ Parent ]
I'm a journalist!! (3.00 / 3) (#21)
by QuantumG on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 01:11:40 PM EST

I personally would have been saying "everything you say or do to me will appear in print, think about that." Some people just dont care what you write about them, but most people do.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Sure... (4.00 / 2) (#23)
by Whyaduck on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 01:21:39 PM EST

I'd do the same thing. I wasn't trying to say that he shouldn't have told the guardsmen, police, airline, etc. what he was doing and who he was. I just think the story itself seems to make a big deal out of it, and it's weak.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
and a torso even more so.

[ Parent ]
it is a big deal (3.00 / 4) (#24)
by QuantumG on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 01:22:43 PM EST

in the US it's perhaps the biggest deal that there is.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
I don't think you read the thread... (3.50 / 2) (#29)
by Whyaduck on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 03:31:37 PM EST

I was saying the author was constantly referring to himself as a journalist...I thought he made a big deal out of his position as a journalist. Again, what happened to him is very important to report, but the article sucked as journalism and would have made a stronger point had he approached it differently.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
and a torso even more so.

[ Parent ]
freedom of the press (3.66 / 3) (#32)
by QuantumG on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 06:33:16 PM EST

it is a big deal, specifically because he is a journalist. If your average joe gets his rights trampled by guys with guns (let's not forget here that we are talking about guys with guns) it's a terrible thing and we all have something to feel ashamed about. This kind of shit isn't supposed to happen in the land of the free. If the same thing happens to a member of the press we shouldn't just feel ashamed, we should feel frightened. No longer is this just about what we can and cant do. No, this is now about what can and cant be reported. It's about what is in the newspaper when I pick it up in the morning. It's about where my world view comes from. Does it come from a government run newspaper which has to undergo censorship by the war department or does it just come from journalists too afraid to go out and report the trueth? Does it only include the pictures that weren't confiscated by the national guard? Is it even permissible to tell me that is the case? When the author of this article screams "I am a journalist" he's not saying "I have special rights man", he's saying "what the hell is going to be in the paper tommorrow?"

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Are you suggesting a bottom up threat? (none / 0) (#45)
by Whyaduck on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:42:44 AM EST

Because I don't see that the incident as described presents any real evidence that the United States government is attempting to suppress freedom of the press. Again, the guard and police on the scene obviously had no right to do what they did, but the whole thing seems more Keystone Kops than KGB to me.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
and a torso even more so.

[ Parent ]
Why it's a big deal. (4.00 / 3) (#33)
by mindstrm on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 07:35:26 PM EST

'Journalists' don't have some special privelege. They are not exempt from rules that affect the rest of us. They are normal people.

Sure, big events will not let you in without a 'press pass'.. but that's just their way of handling crowd control.. or a way for the local press organizations to get coopration out of police, etc.

Technically, whether or not he is a journalist should have no bearing on whether or not he can take pictures in the airport.

Also.. had the national guardsmen simply said 'Sir, I also work on a drug squad in SOCAL.. and I would really appreciate it if you remove the pictures of myself from your camera', and otherwise been firm but polite, I'm sure the story would have a much different take on it.

[ Parent ]
Journalists do have special privilege (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by DaBunny on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 10:35:51 AM EST

If they are acting as journalists, they do have special privileges. As a private citizen, I'm don't have "Freedom of the press," whereas a journalist does. That's not just an idealized phrase.

As an example, if someone gives me information about illegal activities, I can be subpoenaed and compelled to reveal it, and the source of the information in court. But it's much more difficult to compel journalists to reveal such information or sources. The prosecutor (or defense, I guess) has to prove that the evidence is "highly relevant" to the case, that it can't be obtained in any other way, and there is a "compelling need for disclosure."

[ Parent ]
You don't have to be at an Airport (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by slippytoad on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 09:14:52 PM EST

I was in NYC just a week or so ago. I understood that generally tourists are not wanted at the site of Ground Zero, and I went to pains to keep my distance from it. However, I was something like forty blocks away at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel when I was snapping my "nearly got arrested" picture. I was taking a picture of the (to me, very interesting) sign that proclaimed a $350 fine for honking in the tunnel, when a policeman stopped my car, and informed me that "we are in a time of war" (sic) and that if I were found taking a picture of the inside of the tunnel I would be pulled over and arrested.

I am sure similar bullshit is happening all over the country wherever paranoid self-important persons feel they have been granted an excess of authority in time of trouble. If he had arrested me for taking my picture, I would probably have responded with a fairly major lawsuit, since there was no indication anywhere within a hundred miles that taking pictures had somehow become a punishable offense. The fact is, there are a lot of little troopers who've been put in a big uniform and told they are in charge of something important, who have no idea what's permissable or not. I discussed the incident later on with a long-time resident of NYC, and he said he'd heard of no such restriction on photographing architecture or landmarks of any kind. What's happening now is the hysterical response. Any stupid thing that seems to be in the "spirit" of fighting terrorism will be tolerated, until someone goes too far. As in this case. There's no excuse for it, but it appears it will go on until someone is prominently disciplined for overreacting or overreaching with their authority.
If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain
[ Parent ]

Training and Experience (3.40 / 5) (#12)
by Bad Harmony on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 06:34:13 AM EST

I don't blame the National Guard troops. They have been put in a difficult situation with minimal training. This is similar to the problems that have occurred in the past when the National Guard and Army have been deployed to maintain public order during riots, political demonstrations and natural disasters. Even the police need extra training to deal with these unusual situations.

I reserve my ire for the FAA and the airlines. The airlines don't want to spend any money on proper security and, for the most part, the FAA has been a whore for the airlines. That is how we ended up with minimum wage rent-a-cops running airport security, pathetic physical security in airports and non-existent or inadequate screening of personnel with access to sensitive areas.

5440' or Fight!

I can blame them.. (4.16 / 6) (#15)
by mindstrm on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 10:15:30 AM EST

Though I agree about the FAA, etc.

The guard that had this guy delete pictures... he KNEW he did not have legal ground to stand on. He was irrationaly and pushy (according to the article). Someone like that should NOT be responsible for MY security.

[ Parent ]
Answer to this sort of treatment LAWSUIT (2.71 / 7) (#16)
by ennui on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 11:01:24 AM EST

If everybody who was treated poorly files civil suits against the authority who runs the airport and the airline, they'll get the message quickly. Grounds include wrongful detention, lost wages/etc. for missing a flight, civil discrimination, and duress (go see a shrink immediately after you're detained at an airport to make that one stick). The airport is a "place of public accomodation" and as such they have civil liability if they discriminate against you based on ANYTHING.

One lawsuit is a crackpot, many is a problem.

"You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone." -- Al Capone
Let's all go to the airport (3.40 / 5) (#22)
by QuantumG on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 01:14:45 PM EST

we'll take digital cameras and notepads and tape recorders and we'll ask the national guardsmen whether or not they think they are destroying the democracy they are trying to protect by shoving guns in people's faces. We'll ask them when the last time was that the national guard was called upon to police the public. We'll ask them if they would be willing to use those big machine guns and whether they actually even have any bullets in them. Hopefully some of us will get arrested. Dont worry, it's not the people who arrest you that have the power. They can make your life hell for a few hours but you can make their life hell for a few years.. that's if you've got the stomach to sue.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
I'm Confused (4.66 / 3) (#37)
by kamm on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 10:07:30 PM EST

I feel that we need to give a bit more credit to the National Guardsmen directed to work security in our Airports. Asking them if they are "...destroying the democracy they are trying to protect by shoving guns in people's faces..." does not seem to me to be a productive way of solving the problem. Why not contact our State Representatives or some similar action instead? Having a bunch of people stomp around and rant near security checkpoints will only make the problem worse.

Certain extreme circumstances cause reason for such extreme behavior. If you feel that this is one of those times, you are certainly entitled to that opinion. This just does not seem to me to be one of those times. It's not the case that every person that walks through the security gates wearing a black leather coat gets detained for a few hours. This (according to the things I've heard) is a rare situation and should be handled as an isolated case, i.e. abnormal.

Another thing that confuses me is the statement you made: "They can make your life hell for a few hours but you can make their life hell for a few years.. that's if you've got the stomach to sue." The war on terror should be about Justice, not Revenge. Making the guilty pay a penalty and eradicating the organizational force behind terrorism should be the goal, not making the life of some Security Guard a living hell by suing the piss out of him. Sure, this specific Guard made an unfortunately bad decision and I'm glad that hillct posted this story (we need to be aware of these things), but please: let's be part of the solution.

[ Parent ]
Militarization is not a solution (2.00 / 1) (#49)
by QuantumG on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:10:12 AM EST

If I wanted to live in a military zone I would go and live in Afghanistan ok? The national guard are the problem. Them and all this insane reaction. Risking hearing another argument about "raising the bar", I have to say that no amount of added security will stop someone from hijacking a plane. If you are a trained killer you dont need weapons. As we've read right here on K5 there is nothing preventing you from getting into the cockpit of a plane and infact the only thing that can stop a terrorist is the people on that plane. Disarming them is a bad idea. Subjecting them to a military presence (somethimg most people have never experienced) will make them docile. It will make them complacent. It will make them victims and if their plane is hijacked they will not be in any state to come to their own defence. But my post wasn't about how stupid and illogical these overkill security measures are, it was about your rights as a citizen. You have the right to not be harrassed by guys with guns. You have the right to say anything you want, when you want, even if it is in bad taste. When your rights are being trampled on you most definitely should make sure that there is a reaction. The rights you save may be your own.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
International Travel (3.71 / 7) (#17)
by tumeric on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 11:40:43 AM EST

Anyone used to International air travel knows that you need tickets to enter terminals, you can't take pictures, there are people with guns and you don't mess with them. This is absolutely the norm in most countries and is part of having more secure airports.

I've been told off for pointing with a bottle before -- a smile and a lack of attitude made it a non-incident.

Refuse Service? (4.66 / 15) (#18)
by natael on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 12:05:00 PM EST

As the author pointed out at one point in his article, the airline could refuse service to anyone for any reason, because they are a part of the private sector.

For the most part, I generally agree with this principle. But now with federally funded security aid, and talks of direct financial aid from the Government to keep the Airline Industry afloat, I wonder at what point do we consider the airlines a federal for-profit service like the Post Office. When my taxes are used to fund the airlines, what right do they have to refuse service without giving any reason?

"Have been unavoidably detained by the world. Expect us when you see us." - Stardust

Hear, hear! (none / 0) (#36)
by acceleriter on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 09:41:02 PM EST

If the airlines are of sufficient public interest that the taxpayers can spend billions to keep them secure and aloft, then they're of sufficient public interest that they should have no right whatsoever to "refuse service to anyone for any reason." If the airlines don't like the government interference, they should operate on their own funds.

[ Parent ]
I agree (none / 0) (#44)
by Celestial on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:25:55 AM EST

Honestly, with the way things are going, and how completely necessary it is that flight continue on the commercial level that is has in the past be maintained. Its extremely crucial when you look at what would happen to the economy if we don't give a leg up to the airline industry. Basically, I think that the money we (as a country) give to the airlines to help them out should come with some strings attatched. Airlines have proven that they are completely unable to handle thier own security.

When I was waiting in line to get my airport security badge (didn't have before the incident because I didn't need to get into any secure areas before that, mostly I only used it to get to the food in the terminals anyway)I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who used to work in security enforcement for the FAA. He and his co-workers tested airline security. This involves putting things like large knives, fake guns, and fake hand gernades (realistically shaped though) in hand bags and taking them through security check points. I don't remember the exact percentage he told me, but it was well over 50% of the time that they got this items through without even a second look. So, what happens then? They just send the person at the scanner back to thier training class, which is only a day or two long anyway.

Basically, the airlines have proven that they aren't capable of managing thier own security or aperations. So if we give them money, and we will, the money should come with strings attatched. The eventual goal should be to basically nationalize the airlines, they need more regulation.

[ Parent ]
But I thought... (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by PowerPimp on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:42:58 AM EST

The eventual goal should be to basically nationalize the airlines, they need more regulation.

Didn't we just get over deregulating airlines?
You'd better take care of me God; otherwise, you'll have me on your hands...
[ Parent ]
Yes we did (none / 0) (#73)
by DaBunny on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 10:41:19 AM EST

Maybe this shows that it was a pretty bad idea? That and the fact that most airlines were in pretty bad shape (Ready to "perish" according to United's ex-CEO...) even before 9/11.

[ Parent ]
pretty pathetic (2.50 / 10) (#19)
by mami on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 12:27:23 PM EST

The self-proclaimed freelance journalist could have simply asked the guardsmen, if he could shoot some pictures of them, before doing so, and the whole incident would have been avoided. The journalist was out to prove that the guardsmen are there for windows dressing and avoided to behave in a way, which could have easily prevented the reaction of the guardsman.

uh no (4.37 / 8) (#20)
by QuantumG on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 01:09:02 PM EST

Neither I, nor a journalist is required to "ask permission" to take someone's picture and neither you, or a national guardsman has the right to force me to delete it. If I was in his position I would have told the guard to "not be rediculous" and pray that he takes a swing at me. Then I would file suit against him, the airline, the airport and the government. Nazi stormtrooper bullshit should not be tolerated.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Proper Photojournalistic Ethics (3.91 / 12) (#25)
by maveness on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 01:45:10 PM EST

I beg to differ. As a former photojournalist myself, I assure you that unless "breaking news" is happening in front of your lens, it is Standard Operating Procedure to ask before photographing -- particularly in environments where people are edgy, or where security is an issue.

This is just common sense, folks.

Also, again, for any photograph being used for editorial purposes it is SOP to request permission, to get names and signed releases. On private property anyone may deny you permission to photograph anything, and you have no "right" whatsoever to do so.

And for your sake, I sincerely hope you never actually encounter anyone with a "Nazi stormtrooper" attitude -- or anything even vaguely close to it. This is absurd hyperbole that only someone accustomed to the generally laid-back and mild-mannered US police/military force could use in this context. Trust me, in many (if not most) countries that "don't be ridiculous" attitude would get you in a world of trouble, and the notion of a lawsuit would be simply laughable.

Latest fortune cookie: "The current year will bring you much happiness." As if.
[ Parent ]

we're not in those countries - yet (4.00 / 6) (#27)
by QuantumG on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 02:05:53 PM EST

we still have rights in this country, including the right to photograph anything we want in a public space. One of the rights we dont have is the right to stand around in an airport with an automatic weapon. The people that do have this right are granted it under the strictest conditions and a deviation from those conditions should result in that right being removed. The local police should be required to march down there and arrest this guardsman for violating the sacred trust that was given to him.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
"Our Country" (2.00 / 2) (#42)
by Banjonardo on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:05:55 AM EST

we still have rights in this country

Could you be possibly pointing out that in "Our Country" you have rights that people with countries accustomed to more rigid security dont?

Is it really a right worth defending, to look nosy and take pictures in a high-stress area, as opposed to letting it go and (possibly) even (mildly) contributing to security? Cause you would definitely be contributing to the sense of security in the place.

Then again, replying to someone who begins evoking "sacred trust" on us isn't that smart of an idea on my part, right?

I like Muffins. MOLDY muffins.
[ Parent ]

well actually (none / 0) (#48)
by QuantumG on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:59:07 AM EST

I'm in france at the moment. There's guys with guns here too. I'm going across the chunnel to the uk tommorrow, there will be guys with guns there too. And yes, defending your right to be "nosy" about when and why your government puts armed civilians in your local airport is most definitely a right worth fighting for.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Armed Civilians (3.00 / 1) (#65)
by Banjonardo on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 06:19:17 PM EST

Perhaps you could just take it in, grin, and bear it?

I mean, it can't hurt. Think of them as the police. They're there, and they're there. No point in messing with the high-stress zone to take pictures and act the good journalist by saying those people there are useless.

It's all good. People with guns are there to protect (Theoretically, at least) everyone's security. If, in practice, they only protect everyone's sense of security, then, well, great. At least they're doing something.
I like Muffins. MOLDY muffins.
[ Parent ]

My opinion (4.00 / 3) (#43)
by Celestial on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:09:10 AM EST

It would have been better had the journalist had asked permission. The point is, there is no law that said that he has to. People put in a position of authority have a responsibility to uphold the law. The security officer was not doing this, and I cosider what he did to be an exremely bad case of abuse of power.

That said, the officer probably only had a slight grasp on what is and is not OK for somebody to be doing in the passenger terminal. He was probably acting on his own idea of what keeping things secure means. This is the result of thowing of bunch of people at a problem nobody understands, without even bothering to figure out exactly what needs to be done.

I for one, hope that the journalist presses his case in court. For no better reason than that it should allert some people in charge that there are some serious problems with the status quo.

[ Parent ]
Not a problem, yet... (4.71 / 7) (#30)
by mech9t8 on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 04:51:29 PM EST

Notice how the people used to dealing with this situation - the "regular" airport LAPD, the FBI guys, etc were completely reasonable. It was the people who were less experienced - the National Guardsman, the called-up LAPD, the other passengers on the plane - who were freaking out.

If incidents like this are common six months or a year from now, we'll have a problem. Right now, this should be, unfortunately, an expected reaction to the worst single terrorist attack ever. People aren't perfect, and when thousands of them are called up to perform emergency duties under a tense situation, there's bound to be some problems.


PTSD (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by Pseudonym on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 12:39:12 AM EST

In addition, the zeitgeist appears to be suffering from post-traumatic stress. One of the symptoms of PTSD is hypervigilance. What you see here can be interpreted partly as an expression of institutional hypervigilance.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Fly El Al some time ... (3.42 / 7) (#31)
by joegee on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 06:24:30 PM EST

It's my understanding that El Al passengers are interviewed by a professional who questions them, compares their body language and appearance to a profile, and administers an ad-hoc psychological assessment before they are allowed to board the plane. Perhaps a previous El Al passenger could give a better idea of some of the checks that passengers have to go through before they can board their flight.

I for one would rather endure a longer wait, in-depth baggage checks, and profiling/interviewing when the alternative is ending up as a flamebroiled piece of debris. Not that your concerns are invalid.

Far from it. I suspect quite a lot of the current procedures probably are window dressing, but the presence of armed security personnel, to me, is reassuring.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
I've Never Flown El Al (3.50 / 2) (#47)
by fenix down on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:55:06 AM EST

This isn't suggesting anything, it's just a thought. A fairly evil and capitalistic thought, but a thought nonetheless.
Do lines ever become worse than a few deaths? I mean, when we're losing millions of man-hours a day on these lines, that's just about the same to the productivity of society as killing a few 30-something guys.
I guess that's why all this security will disappear as soon as the productivity lost to fear drops back to normal. Seriously now, wheather I got the cause and effect right, I think everybody knows this will happen, whenever people end up calming down.

[ Parent ]
Good point ... (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by joegee on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 08:03:11 AM EST

But it's a few deaths just as long as those planes are crashed into nothing but ground. Arguing economics it probably makes more sense to harden the security of the planes themselves (armed sky marshalls, reinforced cockpit.)

The final cost of the four flights hijacked on 9/11 probably exceeds the cost impact of implementation of stringent security measures, with delays over a several year period.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
[ Parent ]
Previous El Al passenger. (4.33 / 3) (#52)
by i on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 10:03:15 AM EST

That would be me.

Here's the normal course of events at the Ben Gurion airport, as accurately as I can recall. You arrive at the airport 3-4 hours before the scheduled takeoff time, unless you fly business or first class in which case the recommended time is 1.5-2 hours. Than you wander aimlessly across the check-in area because your counter hasn't opened yet.

Then it opens, and you stay in line for some time (around 15 minuts on average AFAICT). Then some nice-looking guy or gal questions you.

  • Where did you arrive to the airport from?
  • Did you pack your luggage yourself?
  • Did somebody ask you to forward any parcel or letter?
  • Did you have your eyes on your luggage at all times since you've packed it?
  • Do you have any weapons, or things that look like weapons?
If not satisfied with your answers, or for any other reason whatsoever, they ask you to open your luggage. That happened to me only once, on a flight to Israel (security was administered by El Al). The guys couldn't recognize an object in my bag on their X-ray screen. It turned out to be a part of a Lego kit I brought home. They asked me to open the box, which I did.

Non-Israelis are asked to open their bags more often than Israelis. I've seen such thing happen to an entire plainload of Japanese tourists.

If all goes well, the whole session takes about 1.5 minutes. If not... anywhere from 5 minutes to a couple of hours.

Then you check-in your luggage, and go to the passport control. Your boarding pass and passport are checked on the way by the security people. Then your passport and boarding pass are checked again and stamped by the border control. Then you go through the metal detector thingy, while your handbag goes through the X-ray thingy.

Whoa! If all is well, you have about two hours of duty-free shopping. :)

Normally I don't see any armed people around, except at the main gate (where cars enter the area). OTOH maybe I'm not looking carefully and they are there; at any rate armed people are part of the landscape here. There are lots of plainclothes security people around (you can tell them apart if you know what to look for :), presumably wearing concealed weapons.

On flights to Israel the arrangements differ from airport to airport, but the basic procedure is more or less the same. When it's more strict, it's usually due to local authorities rather than El Al.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]

Thank you for your comment :) (nt) (none / 0) (#61)
by joegee on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 03:27:06 PM EST

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
[ Parent ]
You ask about Window Dressing... (4.14 / 7) (#34)
by bgalehouse on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 08:54:23 PM EST

Schnier's special post 9/11 crypto-gram has a section on the security measures that have been loudly put into place. He uses the term 'snake-oil'.

Limiting concourse access to ticketed passengers is just a way to reduce the number of people going through the understaffed checkpoint. Terrorists can afford to purchase tickets.ID requirements mean little in a world of fake ids.

People keep mentioning how effective El Al is at security measures. But note that El Al does permit pocket-knives.

Welcome To The Fourth Reich (1.00 / 25) (#35)
by EinsteinsProdigy on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 09:22:41 PM EST

Sieg Heil!

"Sure, it would be nice if Europeans agreed on a single language, but that's about as likely as Unix users agreeing on a single text editor." -Eloquence
How would you respond ... (3.25 / 4) (#38)
by sludge on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 11:42:02 PM EST

... if you were in charge of PR for the airports? This absolute nightmare needs to be handled by a few horror stories of the opposite in nature in order for the public perception to reach a calm state again.

I suggest to you that a small number of people were intentionally discriminated against in hopes that they would go to the media and make their cases known. If the public knows just how anal the lockdown is, they might consider the security of airports to be acceptable again.

This is more likely of a permanent reaction of people than them not going to airports in case they get the same harsh treatment. It might even make them more conscious of their behaviour in order to prevent trouble.
Hiring in the Vancouver, British Columbia area

I worked in an airport (4.92 / 14) (#41)
by Celestial on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:01:10 AM EST

up until a couple of weeks ago I worked at the rental counter of budget-rent-a-car at Seatac international airport. For perspective, I also happened to be there, having clocked in moments before 6am, September 11 2001. 6am is when "It" happened in my time zone. My co-workers and I found out about it almost immediatly because a co-worker's spouse happened to be watching the news when it happened and called immediatly. Six am is about when everything starts, its when you get ready for the day...

Ok, so I stayed there for my whole shift so I was there when everyone got grounded and had to figure out what the hell they were going to do for the next few days.

I was there the next day.. and the next day... and for a couple of weeks after that. This is what airport security is: A really really good show. Only, except, its not.

This is what they do, "new security procedures" are really really new. I was checking every returned car for bombs. Only NO ONE even bothered to tell me what they look like, actually I was told simply "you need to look in every car, check all the compartments, under the seets and in the trunk, spare tire compartment and under the hood." when I asked what I was looking for I was told "anything suspicious" I was never even told what to do if I found anything suspicious. I was never told how to identify wether or not anything was suspicious. That means I had to use my own judgement. My judgement is really bad, I have no training in this field. You could get a bomb by me no prob.

I'm not an exception, the people that scan your stuff.. same goes for them. They weren't really given any extra training. None of the security guards or national guardsman really have the slightest idea what they are really there to do. Nobody knows what they are looking for or what to expect.

The result is, you have all these people put in place to make things secure, but they are all having to rely on thier own idea of what that entails. Which means if you have people with bad judgement they are going to do things like happened in this article.

The airports aren't really secure at all. But it doesn't really matter. What everyone forgets is that the plains were hijacked with totally legal knives! Everyone forgets how they were able to do this and get away with it. They simply intimidated the passengers, and for the most part it worked pretty well for them. It is completely impossible to protect from that. It simply can't be done. You just get enough guys on your side that are really big and burly and you could hijack a plane without any weapons.

People are paranoid. Mostly what is happening right now is that our paranoia is being exploited. What people, especially americans (I am American) forget is that you CANNOT buy safety by selling freedom. We've been doing it slowly for generations and we are no more safe now then we ever have been.

That said, yes airlines need more security. What scares me is how easily it would have been for the hijackers to get some really big guns on to those planes. Contrary to popular belief, it wouldn't have been all that neet of a trick. This is the result of paying people minimum wage to stare at people's bags all day. First, they don't care, secondly its really hard to pay attention when you just stare at a screen all day.

We can't forget about our rights, we can't forget that we have a constitution that we need to uphold. When we forget that, then we aren't really Americans anymore.

i agree... (4.40 / 5) (#50)
by lucid on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 05:00:24 AM EST

I also work on airport property, for a crappy overnight shipping company. The security guards aren't well payed, and are very poorly motivated. They don't check packages or check people properly at all. Since we are required by OSHA to wear steel-toed boots, the metal detectors go off all the time when we walk through. That's how you get your passenger-intimidating box cutters through, I assume. You can get larger items in, like crowbars, by buying a Subway Party Sub which comes in a large, three-foot box that won't be checked. I know this because I've done it before. We needed the crowbar.

There are three major differences between the pre- and post-9/11 attacks where I work.

1. Our parking permits and Employee IDs are checked before we can enter the parking lot.

2. We now have to wear our Employee IDs on the outside of our 'uniforms,' picture side out.

3. The guards now wear their hats.

In my opinion, the third one does the most for airport security.

[ Parent ]

what is needed ? (4.00 / 3) (#54)
by mami on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:23:19 PM EST

I picked up my son coming from the West Coast to the East Coast in his uniform last week. He had three stop-overs. His comment about the airport security: Pretty ridiculous, as they still don't scan and check EVERY piece of luggage and carry-on piece. The guards are just for the people to feel more secure, but the most important thing, the real thorough scan and check of each piece of luggage is still not done.

Two days ago he went back in camoflage uniform again. The airport was under air patrol from the sky, because there were threats against the nuclear power plant three miles away from the airport. We had plenty of time to watch the two guardsmen behind the metal detectors at the security check-in point and I was wondering what these poor guys really could do.

My son said that the real reason, why they are there, is to be able to make "immediate" arrests, if they find anything in the luggage or on the bodies they search. The time factor is apparrently what is the most important they are after.

I also asked my son what they really can do if there would be a suicide bomber right there destroying the airport check-in area ? I guess the two guardsmen couldn't do much, if they can't catch them, before they get through the body searches.

The same way the "journalist" waited til the last moment to shoot a picture of the guardsmen, a suicide bomber could blow himself up right in front of the security check-in. If the airport is small enough this incident could easily damage the whole ariport, I assume.

BTW, my son, in the same uniform the guardsmen, got body searched and scanned like everybody else. So, no double standards here.

Even if there is much of windows dressing going on, I think it's pityful to use these guardsmen as a tool to make a fuss about loosing some civil rights.

(Which ones really ? The journalist waited to shoot a photo of the guardsman without asking right after he had gone through the metal detector and stood may be one or two yards in front of the guardsman. Why ? There was no newsworthy item to take photoes for, if you shoot someone's picture close up so that identity of man is easily to recognize, there is no reason whatsoever to take a picture without asking for permission. If the journalist would by chance have stood in line and a terroristic incident would have happened in front of his eyes and he had shooted a picture to capture that without asking, it would be alright. But that was NOT the case and NOT his intention. His intention was most probably just make a little fuss to write a much too long and whiny story for his online site and nothing more).

The fact that you didn't get trained or showed at least how explosives, hidden in car for which you were supposed to search, look like is tragic. I hope you will be trained properly soon. Or professionals will take over.

[ Parent ]
training (4.00 / 3) (#58)
by Celestial on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 03:05:33 PM EST

Nobody has the time or money to train all the people in the airport to do things right. I quit that job because I was fed up with poor management and customers... for a week and a half people were nice, pleasant to be around. After that people were worse than ever before. The biggest problem with adding security is the time that it takes to do it properly. Most travelers simply will not put up with it. They will take out thier frustrations on anyone they can, usually the people behind the counter. Just another reason why security has been getting absurdly lax. Do you really want to ask hundreds of people if you can search thier persons or thier bags (which often contain personal items such as dildos in them) people bitch at you, and in general are very rude to you. You have that many people direct unpleasantness in your direction and see how you feel at the end of your day. Anyway, airport security won't be getting better, only worse. Time and money control everything, and nobody has the time or the money.

[ Parent ]
I had a silly thought (none / 0) (#66)
by mami on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 06:40:15 PM EST

with regards to that. A system whereby passengers and their luggage travel on two separate airplanes. Then at least, if there were something in the luggage and exploded, you wouldn't have so many civilian casualties. But, kid's dreams, no idea if something like that could be set up. Granted I wouldn't want to search through people's personal stuff in their luggage, it's a pretty lousy job, sorry for reminding you of it.

[ Parent ]
Because, after all, what are civil rights worth? (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by Karmakaze on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 02:52:31 PM EST

Even if there is much of windows dressing going on, I think it's pityful to use these guardsmen as a tool to make a fuss about loosing some civil rights.
Wait a minute. Why shouldn't we complain about losing civil rights? They're important. You know that "freedom" Americans have been talking about with such pride lately? Civil rights are part of that "freedom."

(Which ones really? The journalist waited to shoot a photo of the guardsman without asking right after he had gone through the metal detector and stood may be one or two yards in front of the guardsman. Why? There was no newsworthy item to take photoes for,
Well, let's see... The journalist was writing a story about airport security. The prominent placement of "soldiers" is a big recent change in airport security. It was newsworthy enough that I've seen the same types of film on tv repeatedly of late.
if you shoot someone's picture close up so that identity of man is easily to recognize, there is no reason whatsoever to take a picture without asking for permission. If the journalist would by chance have stood in line and a terroristic incident would have happened in front of his eyes and he had shooted a picture to capture that without asking, it would be alright. But that was NOT the case and NOT his intention. His intention was most probably just make a little fuss to write a much too long and whiny story for his online site and nothing more).
I don't quite get this. You somehow got the idea that he deliberately took a photograph in order to provoke the guardsman? Because he wanted to be detained? Did we read the same article? The guy was trying to go home, as evidenced by the fact that he a) erased the photos despite his misgivings, and b) got on an airplane with the intention of leaving.

He didn't just have to erase some photographs, which would not have justified much of an article. He was detained for hours, berated, had his notes confiscated, and was banned from an entire airline without anyone being able to give him a reason why.

The thing about these so-called security measures is that they don't make me feel any safer. I can recognize window dressing just fine. I figure if I can think of ways around them (and I can), then so can some villain. So, for no actual increase in security, I am supposed to give up my civil liberties. Why? For the illusion of safety? I'm not a child to be lied to about how safe I am. I neither need nor want a pageant. If all of this actually did make me safer, I'd tolerate it a lot better, but I'm not willing to trade away something (freedom) for nothing (an illusion of safety).

[ Parent ]

Definitely window dressing (4.50 / 4) (#53)
by bediger on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:12:55 PM EST

how many of the other measures we've seen taken in the past month are simply window dressing?

Between October 13, and October 21, I took 5 flights, visiting 4 airports in 3 states. I can't think of anything that I saw performed as "extra security measures" that would have prevented the Sept 11 events, except possibly the X-raying of *everything* that went in the passenger cabin. I say "possibly" because I was flying with a 9-month old, my pockets were full of all kinds of extra junk, and nobody bothered to double-check the extra junk. All the ID-checking, although very officious, wouldn't have had any effect on the Sept 11 hijackers as I understand it - they flew under their own names. Besides that, what does a Norfolk, VA gate attendant know about a Colorado driver's license? I could have been flying under some easily assumed identity.

And I say that the X-ray possibly might have prevented it, but that ceramic knives might slip through an X-ray or a metal detector unnoticed.

What's worse is that this "heightened state of security" allows and encourages the kind of dopey behavior that the journalist in the article experienced. The most officious idiot wins when "security" is at stake, as far as I can see. No matter what minor question you ask of a gate attendant, they check your (possibly false) ID against your ticket - surprise, Mr Dumbass Gate Attendant, my ID matches my ticket. It got checked twice before I even asked you if there is pre-boarding for parents with a 9-month-old. The gate attendents get to be as arbitrary as they feel like. It's sort of emergent behavior. Any behavior that passengers exhibit that annoys gate attendants or flight personnel can now be punished as part of "heightened security". Don't want to act like cattle and get herded about? You just fit the profile of a terrorist!

-- I am Spartacus.
You can get bullying police officers all over (4.33 / 3) (#55)
by mami on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 01:48:19 PM EST

if that is what you are after. No legislation whatsoever can change the fact that you have rotten apples among police, security personel and guardsmen or military guys, who can't handle their own position of power they have due to the fact that they are armed.

If you would complain about hiring and not properly screening people psychologically, if they are up to the task to NOT abuse their power, I would understand. But that is not dependent on
laws, but on the fact that people get hired, which NEVER should be allowed to carry a weapon and a uniform.

[ Parent ]
What did he expect? (3.80 / 5) (#56)
by kostya on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 02:03:33 PM EST

I guess this just doesn't surprise me, especially considering his own account:

As I reached the checkpoint, I saw that the four guardsmen were deployed in exactly the same fashion as in Sacramento, behind the metal detectors. I removed the small digital camera from the right breast pocket of my leather jacket and took several photographs of the armed citizen-soldiers. I had just turned to head back to the gate when a loud voice boomed at me from the direction of the checkpoint.


"Do you have press credentials" he asked.

Uh-oh. I'm a freelance writer. I don't even carry a business card, just my California Driver's License, my Social Security card, and a bunch of credit cards. For all they knew, I was Joe Q. Ticketed Passenger walking around the terminal taking notes and photographs, which, I was still 99 percent certain, was completely within my rights. "I don't need press credentials o be in an airport," I declared. "Give me back my notebook."

Ok, sure this is not very cool compared to the freedoms we enjoyed before. But to take pictures without annoucing yourself, without having the proper credentials--just what the hell did he expect?

My dad took some pictures at a Mall back in June. A security guard asked him what he was doing. My dad explained he was trying to catch the light on this one scene. The guard asked him to erase the picture. My dad was flabbergasted. The guard explained that people often take photos to case a store they plan to rob and that he couldn't allow him to photograph the mall without specific permission.

Now that's a mall prior to 9/11. This story is about an airport under tight, armed security. I flew out of Cleveland Hopkins two weeks ago and missed my plane because my belt buckle set off the metal detector and they had to pat me down for weapons--no, I'm not kidding.

So Mr. Freedom O. Press here takes pictures of the security checkpoint from afar, undeclared and unannounced, and then walks away without saying a word. Just what the hell did he expect? And then to act antognistic with "I don't need credentials" ... I'm just kind of shocked that this guy can't figure out why it turned out so bad for him.

He acts like a total ass full of indignation and then wonders why they come down on him hard. Sure, it was all a misunderstanding and he wasn't doing any harm. But acting like an ass doesn't help a misunderstanding get any better. To boot, the whole nation was on high alert status. The guy needs to get a clue.

Veritas otium parit. --Terence
Umm (4.00 / 4) (#57)
by Elendale on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 03:01:58 PM EST

As far as i'm aware, there are no laws against taking photos. At most, they could kick you out of the store- but i doubt requiring you to erase the film is backed up by law. As far as i'm aware, anyway.


When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

[ Parent ]
I agree, but my point ... (4.00 / 4) (#59)
by kostya on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 03:20:39 PM EST

I agree, but that's kind of my point. If security guards at malls in the US are wary of people taking photos for fear that they might be casing a store, how would armed National Guardsmen react to someone taking pictures of a security checkpoint the day that the FBI warned the public of an imminent terrorist attack?

I think the guy just wasn't thinking. Personally, I'd be wondering how they would react and I would have asked first. But that's me. I'm paranoid. I don't think his attitude help things at all.

Veritas otium parit. --Terence
[ Parent ]
Does not change the problem (5.00 / 2) (#69)
by wiesmann on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 06:10:33 AM EST

OK, he should have asked, then what?
  1. what if the military refused (which seems probable), should the journalist say sorry and not do his job? I agree that the trend for journalists is often do do exactly this - I don't call this free press...
  2. If you have to ask for the permission to do something its obviously not a right anymore.

[ Parent ]
Let's get some context here (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by kostya on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 10:22:02 AM EST

1. what if the military refused (which seems probable), should the journalist say sorry and not do his job? I agree that the trend for journalists is often do do exactly this - I don't call this free press...

I'm not talking about the right to free press, I'm talking about an explosive situation where someone just assumed it was business as usual and then when he found out that it wasn't was a bit of a jerk to boot. I don't assign any malice; actually I bet he was scared and just reacted instead of thinking.

The fact is that he should have had press credentials. There are many "public" places that require press credentials to get into or to be able to exercise the rights of the press. On the day of the most paranoia, he chose to be cavalier.

This isn't a story about free press. It's a story about a guy who writes for papers occasionally not thinking things through and then writing a nice rant portraying himself as the Righteous Press and the authorities as the Evil Opressors. The fact is that he reacted very badly without an ounce of sense. Yes, the whole thing was a misunderstanding, but his attitude just aggravated things.

All that being said, if he did have credentials, did ask, and was then refused with no explaination or official policy being announced, that would be something to be concerned about. This was just a jumpy guardsman being overzealous with a stupid freelancer thinking his rights were being trampled and then being an ass about it. The fault was on both sides.

2. If you have to ask for the permission to do something its obviously not a right anymore.

Please do not be sensastionalistic or naive. The FBI placed the entire nation into High Alert with a warning of immenent terrorist attacks. This is like saying that I have the right to walk anywhere in a city, even during protests and preparations for riots. Yes, it's well within my rights to cross a police line without asking, but I'm still going to get my ass kicked by some very edgy and tense police officers.

If he had a press badge this would be one thing. If he had announced his presence and intentions, again it would be an entirely different matter. But it wasn't either of those. He didn't have any credentials to show he was a member of the press and he snapped a photo of a security checkpoint and then quietly walked off.

If I'm a guardsman on the day that we expect attacks and I see a guy snapping photos of my checkpoint and not sticking around, I'd be suspicious. Now I still think the guardsman overreacted, but then I also think this reporter overreacted.

But then, he wanted a story. And he got one. Coincidence? Think about it.

Veritas otium parit. --Terence
[ Parent ]
The issue (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by wiesmann on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 04:15:01 AM EST

I agree with you that he acted in a stupid way, and I agree the root problem is a context problem. He assumed that it was "buisness as usual" while the guard was assuming "this is war". Each persone was acting in its own context.

The problem is, the US goverment tries to have both at the same time: the US is not officially at war, yet some part of it are acting as if. The guy is not a front-line journalist and reacted in un-professional way, but so did the gard and his supervisors. This is my main gripe with this story: nobody reacted in a cool, rationnal way.

[ Parent ]

I would expect my First Amendment rights (2.66 / 3) (#60)
by roystgnr on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 03:26:05 PM EST

You know, constitutional dissemination of knowledge (with or without "credentials"), that sort of thing. I took pictures of Austin's airport when I flew in to go apartment hunting here a couple months ago. I would expect to be able to take pictures there again, particularly now that it's a much more interesting subject matter. Did I miss the declaration of martial law?

I can understand them leaving him off his flight for acting "suspiciously" (although I suspect I would be equally scared shitless after being shouted down by a man with an automatic weapon) - but the only reason to touch his camera and notebook is if they saw anthrax powder spilling out the side!

[ Parent ]

His note book (3.00 / 2) (#62)
by Celestial on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 04:16:07 PM EST

The really bad part is that they actually flipped through his note book and asked him to delete the pictures. That was grose abuse of power and the guard should have known that he had no business doing that and nobody had the right to flip through the guys notebook. That is invasion of privacy and I would sue over that.

[ Parent ]
the real problem (4.00 / 3) (#63)
by Celestial on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 04:20:34 PM EST

The thing is, all this paranoia is allowing people to act like ass holes more. People use it as an excuse to take away rights and mostly people allow it to happen. This does need to stop. People shouldn't be allowed to use thier position of power and everyone's paranoia to break the law. Otherwise, what's the point?

I think so (3.80 / 5) (#64)
by Celestial on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 04:27:23 PM EST

It was a bad idea.

The airlines have alot of issues nobody seems to remember anymore. Previous to all the fuss over recent events there was a serious problem with something called "air-rage." Which is primarily that otherwise normal and easy to deal with people tend to freak out on airplanes and threaten and harass people. Stuff like death threats and yelling screaming and the like. Its really common anymore, and the airlines don't care. Airlines haven't even investigated into a way to fix the problem. Sometimes they wait and freak out when they get on the ground, I've had them in my line before. Some really bad things have happened because of this. On its own, air rage problems should be enough to convince most anyone that the airlines need someone to intervene. The events of Sept. 11 only prove it.

this is a reply (1.00 / 1) (#68)
by Celestial on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 01:05:19 AM EST

oops the above statement was supposed to be a reply to something.. must have hit the wrong button :P

[ Parent ]
Stupidities. (4.50 / 2) (#70)
by iGrrrl on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 08:49:54 AM EST

A lot of the what has been put in place for security feels very much barn-door to me. The horse is out, and many of the new "security measures" are more like closing windows rather than doors, anyway. For example:

The new airline security my husband ran into this week was ludicrous. At the security checkpoint in Providence, RI, they were forcing people to break the files off their nail clippers. In the gift shop inside the gate, you could buy clippers with nail file intact. Silly, just silly. I'm not sure we're very good at this, as a culture. And as a previous post pointed out, we're not training the people relied upon to catch "anything suspicious."

When my husband travels, he often carries the more delicate pieces of the artificial nose. I can only imagine what this thing looks like on an X-ray, with wires and solenoids and a photomultiplier tube. I would think the thing looked like a bomb. Of the 50-60 times he's taken it through security, it has been opened exactly twice by airport personnel, and then only because they thought they saw something pointy.

Then again, my husband and his partner in the project look like academics, down to the LandsEnd clothing. Negative profiling?

The other silly aspect to all of this is the parochialism it has revealed. In the wake of the attacks, they were searching the bags of all incoming customers at the Walmart in Paris, Maine. Why did they think they'd be a target? On the day of the attacks, Massachusetts governor Jane Swift had barricades placed around the USS Constitution. "Old Ironsides" is a ship lovingly held together by the US Navy since 1797, and a major tourist spot. I remember thinking, "Lady, they just took out the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I don't think they give a damn about your little boat."

You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.

Yes, of course (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by epepke on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 01:01:06 PM EST

Of course this is useless stuff. So what else is new? It isn't there to prevent terrorism. It's there to give people some sort of feeling of goodness, or authority, or spite, or whatever. If people were really interested in preventing terrorism, they would take a page from El Al, but they don't.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Of course it's stupid (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by mami on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 11:14:01 AM EST

but it isn't the Nat Guard's fault. And therefore the author shouldn't have used a single misbehaving Nat. guardsman to let out his frustration. For each bullying guardsman you can find at least one, who is very polite. And it's pretty cheap to make the military or the Nat. guardsmen responsible for obeying the orders they get from their politicians. That's what the article did in excess, IMHO.

[ Parent ]
The Japanese have a word for this (none / 0) (#81)
by fluffy grue on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:52:15 PM EST

"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Lesson: Push back. (2.33 / 3) (#74)
by Scrutinizer on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 12:59:52 PM EST

The guy's major problem came from not telling the first Nat. Guardsman to "eat shit and die, I'll take pictures when and where I like, unless this country turned into a third-world dictatorship while I wasn't looking."

You have to stand up to these assholes, or they *will* walk all over you. He should have (quietly, reasonably) refused to obey a patently illegal order. Sure, he may have been dragged off to the back rooms and strip-searched, but that's the breaks, pal, and makes for a very profitable lawsuit down the road.

That only makes it worse (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by Cameleon on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 10:37:11 AM EST

Sure, he may have been dragged off to the back rooms and strip-searched

Yes, and that was exactly what he was trying to prevent by erasing the photo's. And it correlates well with my experience with these kind of people. People who are in charge and think that what they say, goes. If it's not that important (and in this case it wasn't, he already had a lot of material), let it slide. It's just easier and quicker. Only if you have the time, or feel you need to make a point, go against it.

[ Parent ]

International Security... (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by slykens on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 04:26:51 PM EST

I've got a few items to mention in this comment so I will put them in order.

First, I have always felt that airline security in the US is a farce. It's meant to give you a warm feeling in your pants, to make you think they've caught the bad guys. Prior to 9/11, and I assume still now, it has always been easy to get a gun on an airplane. To start with, an amazing number of people are permitted to carry weapons on airplanes. The Delta flight last year where a pistol was found in the bathroom is just an example of how ignorant some of these people can be. I checked in for a flight from NJ to Nevada at Newark. When I told the ticket agent I was declaring a firearm she asked if I was a federal agent with the intention of walking me through security with my pistol. Some fake federal credentials would have done it.

Second, in October of 2000 I flew to India via Amsterdam on NW and KLM from the US. I always thought it was funny that the FAA requires US flag carriers to keep the cockpit door locked when international carriers typically let them open the entire flight. I flew upper deck on a KLM 747 from Detroit to Amsterdam and the damned cockpit door was open for most of the flight. I also find it funny that the US doesn't have exit immigration control like just about every other country I have flown to. The real point here is though that security was done at the gate in Amsterdam and interviews were done with passengers. My boss and myself spoke with two different interviewers.

Third, I am planning to fly to India next week on a one-way ticket on Lufthansa. I read about a Delta flight that was cancelled due to the last minute purchase of one way tickets by a few Arab men. I certainly don't expect my flight to be cancelled but I do expect to be questioned more. The reason I am flying one way to India is that airlines, in an effort to maximize revenue, charge significantly less for itineraries originating in poor countries. My business class ticket one way to India is $2400. Round trip from the US is $8000. Round trip from India is $3300. In effect I can nearly fly two round trips for the price of one from the US.

Fourth, my last reentry to the US via Washington Dulles was quite interesting. I presented my declaration form and was asked how I was doing. I responded by saying I was glad to be home. The immigration officer told me to move along. My passport was never inspected. I found out today why, or I suspect why. Foxnews is running a story about a system named 'Advanced Passenger Information System', APIS. It is a system through which a carrier reports to US authorities who is on their plane before it gets to the US. My guess at the time was that there was no one on the flight that the gov't was interested in because we had been precleared. Nice to know my guess seems to be right. Problem is Fox reports that Middle Eastern carriers don't participate in this system. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egyot, Pakistan, and other do not participate.

Oh well, it will certainly be a fun trip.

Security Run Amok - a true story | 81 comments (71 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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