Ted Kennedy and I have something in common. We are both on airline lists as potential terror suspects.
Kennedy was recently denied access to a US Airways flight out of Washington, one he has taken for 40 years.
I am on a US Airways list of some type that apparently requires airline employees to take my driver's license behind closed doors, have a conference and then stamp my ticket with a code that mandates my person and my carry-on bag be searched. Every time I fly, which is sometimes several times a week. I especially appreciate the crotch grab to make sure I'm not hiding any weapons of mass destruction. How would you like to be the trainer for this procedure?
The idiocy virus is now spreading to other airlines. It seems someone who shares my name is wanted by authorities. I hope he is getting some of my hate mail. Logic should dictate that once I prove I am not the guy they are looking for, they would take me off the suspect list. But, no, our misnamed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is anything but logical.
US Airways gives me a TSA phone number to call. I am not surprised when a machine answers. The machine promises a "prompt" response. I leave a message. There is no response. A few days later, I call again. Same recording, same message, same non-response. I send an e-mail to TSA. This time I receive an "automated reply," assuring me of a prompt response. Two days later, I receive another e-mail informing me I will have to fill out a form to prove I am not a terrorist. This is an interesting twist on the "innocent until proven guilty" standard in law.
The confusion plot thickens. Two weeks ago, TSA approved my application for "registered traveler" status as part of an experimental program at some airports for frequent travelers. I recorded my "eye print" and fingerprint, and now a machine can identify me and allow me to go to the head of the security line, but only at the airport where I applied.
Other participating airports require applications to be made at each of those airports, even though the paperwork presumably goes to TSA headquarters. Why can't TSA look at that one application that has been approved and take me off their "watch list," or whatever they call it? Is "logic" not in government dictionaries?
Things have become so ridiculous on the road that a TSA screener in Duluth, Minn., last week required me to open my computer bag, whereupon she used one of those devices that resemble a deodorant pad and wiped every electrical cord. When I asked why, she responded, "The downed Russian airliners." When I noted that Duluth was the only airport in the country where my electrical cords had been wiped, she replied, "Everyone is supposed to."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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