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snuffypuffer

stream of consciousness #4

9 posts in this topic

I've had something bugging me for the last week. Something seems horribly wrong, yet I can't seem to find any information on the subject, much less any kind of real reaction. A college student recently snuck several banned objects aboard two planes (I believe it was two, like I said, I've only seen a couple brief news reports, and haven't found much information) with numbers on each. The items remained undetected for five weeks. Five weeks! The kid finally called the transportation administration, (sorry, right now I'm not remembering the acronym) and told them what to look for, along with the numbers on the weapons. And naturally, the Man came down on the kid, he is in quite a bit of trouble now, obviously for bringing banned objects aboard a plane. But if he hadn't called the proper authorities to let them know what he'd done, they still may not even know they were there. Does this not bother anyone else? This kid has exposed a huge hole in the airport security system. You'd think that this here would be a big issue. Yet I can't seem to find anything at all on it, aside from the previously mentioned news reports. Maybe I'm reacting late. Yet I still don't feel quite right. It's like having an eight hundred pound gorilla sitting in your living room, and everyone is pretending not to notice.

I have no plans to fly at the moment, and none of my loved ones is going anywhere that I know of, but eventually, it's gonna happen. You might be leaving on a business trip, or your parents might finally be taking that trip to Jamaica. This should be concerning people. Yet barely any mention. Wonder why.

Now, from the few minutes of press footage I've seen, with a group of police officers leading our friend the Kid away from the court house, my first impression is that he looks like a nice enough kid, the kind you'd like to have living next door. A typical white middle class college boy. And therein is part of my problem. If his skin was brown, and his name was something like, say, Ahmed Mohammed, do you think he'd have just been able to waltz through security, without any more hassle than having to remove his wristwatch? I doubt it, in fact our friend Ahmed would probably be subjected to the whole battery of screenings, maybe even a cavity search. Meanwhile, the Kid walks calmly towards the boarding area. We've become so focused on finding the Mid-East boogeyman that we've forgotten the homegrown jabberwoks right here in the good Ol' U.S. of A.

I remember a few years back, right here in my own backyard, someone drove a Ryder truck full of explosives in front of a government building in Oklahoma City. Until 9-11, the Murrah bombing was the biggest terror attack to ever occur on American soil. And at first, folks were thinking it was probably an Islamic extremist, after all, that's where the terrorist come from, right? I mean, aside from Northern Ireland, the bad guys all wear robes and have long unkempt beards, right? As a matter of fact, the Oklahoma City bomber was none other than Tim McViegh, a normal, everyday white guy. A white guy who had some major problems with the government, who was motivated enough to carry out his plan to kill as many innocent people as possible. His accomplice, Terry Nichols, is also white. Is it possible that this is a one shot deal, I mean, Americans would never attack their own country again, would they? Really. Not after 9-11, surely. The sad truth is that it's very likely there are, they just haven't crawled out from under their rocks yet. And if a college kid merely trying to prove a point can get past airport security, imagine what a determined terrorist with nothing at all to lose could do. Does this mean that we need to draw away some attention from the guys overseas? Of course not, but like the old saying goes, it's the one you don't see that gets you.

Maybe this is old news, and I'm just now jumping on the bandwagon. It wouldn't be the first time. And I'll be the first to admit that it's possible there are holes in my story. But I can't help but worry that there are serious problems here that simply aren't being addressed. I want to believe that the governmet is doing all it can to get past the initial knee jerk reaction that happened after 9-11, and actually overhaul the system, rather than the few quick patches we put on it right after. I want to, I really do. But other than not allowing the Kid not to board a plane, I haven't seen much of that happening. Rather, it seems like we're an ostrich sticking our heads in the sand, hoping it goes away when we're not looking.

Like I said, I may be wrong, I may have missed the boat on this, and if any of you have any information, please let me know. In this case, it would be really nice to be wrong.

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Maybe this kid did us a favor. We know the problem we just don't know the solution.

That's exactly what I think.

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Here is some additional information, not on the actual incident, but on the "KID" Snuffy is talking about:

N.C. Campus Reels Over Box Cutter News

By PAUL NOWELL

October 22, 2003

The Associated Press

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - Two years ago, Guilford College student Nathaniel Heatwole sought the advice of campus ministry coordinator Max Carter.

Heatwole had refused to register for the military draft when he turned 18, sending the Selective Service System a blank registration form and a letter explaining he was a pacifist.

The government responded by confirming that Heatwole was signed up to serve. Heatwole was upset that his wishes had been ignored, and asked Carter what to do.

``He did not want to hide, and he was willing to accept the consequences,'' Carter said Tuesday. ``It bothered his conscience that he was registered. So I contacted a Quaker lawyer, whose advice was for him not to call attention to himself.

``So much for that,'' he added with a chuckle.

All eyes were on Heatwole this week in a Baltimore courtroom when he was charged with taking a dangerous weapon aboard an aircraft. The charge carries up to a 10-year prison sentence, although Heatwole could serve no prison time because he has no prior record.

Heatwole said he hid box cutters, modeling clay made to look like plastic explosives, matches and bleach on two airliners in an act of ``civil disobedience'' to expose weaknesses in U.S. security.

Heatwole, 20, from Damascus, Md., was released without bond pending a preliminary hearing in Nov. 10 in Baltimore.

At Guilford College, Heatwole roomed with Franco Salmina for a few weeks before they split during the weeklong autumn break.

Salmina said he got along with his roommate, but they hadn't had much of a chance to talk about politics or world events. When Salmina returned to campus to start classes again Monday, he was shocked that the first place he saw his roommate was in the news.

``I thought it was a joke,'' said the 19-year-old freshman.

Still, at a 2,000-student school with strong roots in the Quaker faith and a tradition of civil disobedience dating to the Civil War, Heatwole's actions may have been surprising, but not incomprehensible.

``He just wanted to show them that it was possible to bring dangerous things on an airplane,'' Salmina said.

Heatwole told FBI agents he went through normal security procedures at airports in Baltimore and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Once aboard, he hid the bags in a compartment in the rear lavatories.

In a posting on an Internet bulletin board in March 2002, Heatwole - a ham radio operator - advised other enthusiasts how to carry portable radio equipment aboard planes after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He noted he'd flown a number of times with his gear, which is legal, and suggested being frank and forthcoming when dealing with security workers.

``Most important, try to take the questions and searches 'in stride.' If they don't see you getting nervous or acting weird and freely giving consent, the odds are great that they will let you carry it on,'' he wrote. ``Make sure to have a good story for what it is and be open and candid throughout.''

Heatwole, a double-major in political science and physics, described his attempt to reject his draft registration in an interview last February with the college newspaper.

``I wanted to let them hear the voice of dissent,'' he told The Guilfordian, ``just in case they were listening.''

While Heatwole is not a Quaker, he told the newspaper that he shares many of the tenets of the religion, including a belief in pacifism.

Carter said Heatwole is fairly typical of the student body at Guilford, where the motto is: ``Be the change you want to see in the world.''

``Is he rebellious?'' Carter asked. ``Someone who states he is a pacifist at age 18 and is a nonregistrant in the draft is not in the mainstream.''

Still, even some Guilford students questioned Heatwole's actions.

``He has the right to express his views as we all do in America,'' said Ben Rothenberg, a junior from Potomac, Md. ``But he created a lot of hysteria and anger, which is even worse because of Sept. 11.''

10/22/03 02:57 EDT

   

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is the agency that is investigating this.

Should this have happened? No. BUT.......... Snuffy makes many good points (as usual wub.gif )........... These items were onboard for 5 weeks. Heatwole emailed the TSB and notified them what he had done..... and still nothing was done immediately.

Granted, the TSB must have a lot on their collective plates since September 11, 2001 and more than likely (hopefully?) most of what is reported ends up being a hoax.

However, we cannot take anything for granted ...... We sat on our rear ends for way too many years, sucking our thumbs, on the outside chance Terrorism would not strike the USA.

The "red tape" of investigating any potential threat, in a complex governmental agency is, in my opinion, part of the problem. We are "too big" for our own good.

Yet? If an individual fits the profile of 'suspected' terrorist organizations, I still think it is necessary to take the possibility of another attack, seriously.

"Frisking" 86 year old men and women at Security is absurd. Yes, anyone could be a 'terrorist wannabe' of that there is no doubt.

Just seems to me, common sense has flown out the window.

I think the TSB should hire Mr. Heatwole. Have him point out the areas that allowed him to get away with this, work on procedures to perhaps define Security Searches and hone them to MORE than we have currently.

The TSB commented that what Heatwole did served basically no purpose. Embarrassment was very evident. Using this "KID" as a scapegoat is also absurd.

Stand up, admit the "holes" and improve .........

Sorry if I got carried away here. Snuffy? You sure have a knack for making me think and............ smile. Thanks for #4!!!

Nancy

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You're right Nancy, the Kid made the TSB look bad, so therefore they're doing the best they can to crucify him, rather than actually fix the problem. There is no such thing as complete safety, if a person is determined enough, they can accomplish just about anything. However, the number of people who die because of it can be reduced greatly if the folks in charge of this would start using some simple common sense.

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  However, the number of people who die because of it can be reduced greatly if the folks in charge of this would start using some simple common sense.

Nancy wrote:

Just seems to me, common sense has flown out the window.

Snuffy? Same page, once again!

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wink2.gif yep

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huh.gifohmy.gifdontgetit.gifblink.gif

Charlie Brown?

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huh.gif  ohmy.gif  dontgetit.gif  blink.gif

Charlie Brown?

Good grief! original.gif

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huh.gif  ohmy.gif  dontgetit.gif  blink.gif

Charlie Brown?

Good grief! original.gif

rolleyes.gif

LOL!!!!!! Bingo A:21~~ Yahooo!! thumbsup.gif

Charlie is one of my heros!! Just wondering why Snuffy switched......?

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