The TSA: A Belt and Suspenders Kinda Agency

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When you’re fighting a fake war, even fake weapons are a threat.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), whose courageous airport screeners see a terrorist in every toddler and a bomb in every bag, saved Sarasota-Bradenton (Fl) International Airport from a garish belt buckle on Tuesday. Perhaps they’ll next rescue us from neon fingernail polish and striped trousers.

The alarm went out at 6 in the morning when an "explosive baggage detection system" found what seemed to be a grenade in a checked suitcase. The local bomb squad swarmed, albeit almost half an hour later (should terrorists attack someday, let’s hope they do so at a leisurely pace); Our Rules established a "safety zone," which included the suspicious bag and the airport’s check-in area; and the bag itself was quarantined in a "suspect baggage containment vessel." Fortunately, the good folk of Sarasota and Brandenton did not bear the "vessel’s" expense by themselves. We all anted up when the airport bought it last year with a $30,000 grant.

It was money well spent: on this its inaugural use, the gadget "contained" one piece of "suspect baggage" with nothing more threatening than a belt in it. A warrantless search uncovered a buckle shaped like half of a grenade — not likely to land the wearer on anyone’s "Best Dressed" list but hardly cause for alarm.

Nevertheless, we are told that the owner "voluntarily surrendered" it to "officials." The TSA started this nonsense of passengers who "voluntarily" agree to be groped and "voluntarily" hand over their lighters and "voluntarily" take off their shoes, all under threat of being harassed, denied boarding or even arrested should they protest. The media wags its tail and echoes this deceptive wording. Picture a white-haired, suntanned grandfather in Bermuda shorts cursing the TSA idiots sotto voce as he tries to explain that it’s pewter, boys, it just looks like a grenade, see, the grandson gave it to me last Father’s Day, it’s not even a whole grenade, it couldn’t hurt GI Joe’s little finger, let alone bring down a plane–

But he can see he’s getting nowhere. “You ain’t getting nowhere either, buddy, you don’t toss it in the bin there,” the TSA goon tells him. He waits until Grandpa has wandered off, still muttering, before fishing it out for himself.

Even had Grandpa not been robbed of his buckle, it’s absurd to suppose he could have terrorized anyone en route with it. First, passengers aren’t nearly as foolish as TSA mush-brains. A leather belt trailing from the "grenade" as Grandpa waved it about might make them a tad skeptical of claims to blow them sky-high. Secondly, the belt had been innocently stowed in his checked bag. Duh.

Cooperating further with Leviathan, the newspaper’s account helpfully explains that "replica weapons cannot be taken onboard airplanes, even if non-lethal and affixed to someone’s belt." This is untrue and indicts both the TSA buzzards who lied and the reporter who gullibly repeated that lie. According to the TSA’s website, the only "replicas" of explosives or incendiaries prohibited in checked or carry-on baggage are "realistic" ones. I don’t know about you, but half a grenade attached to a belt buckle doesn’t strike me as cause to dive for the floor.

Then again, the TSA’s ridiculous rules abound in adjectives and adverbs, both of which require judgment. Everyone knows what a "replica" is, but a "realistic replica" is a matter of opinion, and for sure, when Leviathan’s lackeys and you debate what is and isn’t "realistic," you’re gonna lose. Big time. The website warns: "If you bring a prohibited item to the checkpoint, you may be criminally and/or civilly prosecuted or, at the least, asked to rid yourself of the item. [Emphasis original.] A transportation security officer (TSO — formerly a screener) and/or law enforcement officer will make this determination, depending on what the item is and the circumstances. Bringing a prohibited item to a security checkpoint — even accidentally — is illegal." Comforting to have your future and your freedom riding on a screener’s — sorry, a TSO’s definition of "realistic," isn’t it?

Apparently, TSA spokesman Christopher White spoke seriously when he told our credulous reporter, “Replica weapons have to be taken seriously, particularly replica explosives because explosives are the No. 1 threat to aviation.” Psst, Chris: catch the "replica" there. No powder in them, nor fuse, either. Get it?

And don’t be so modest. The No. 1 threat to aviation is the TSA.

Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.

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