Dumbo in Buffalo

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When it comes to sheer asininity, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) usually beats passengers by a very long shot. But on May 10, a woman as dimwitted as your average screener handed the TSA an excuse to shut down Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Look for the agency to offer this bozo a job: she’s definitely management material.

"Described only as a woman in her late 50s," our numbskull remains unidentified. That should protect her from angry passengers who missed connections or had to rent hotel rooms — but it also compels us to invent a name. "Dumbo" comes to mind, and it isn’t a reference to her size, either. Dumbo confused the exit from the airport’s "secure area," as the TSA dubs those parts under its tyranny, with the entrance to the checkpoint. She didn’t realize that she’d bypassed the screening scam until she reached her gate.

I don’t know about you, but at that point I’d be thinking, Yeehaw! Score one against the police state! I’d probably brag to all and sundry about my coup — but later. Given the cowards, imbeciles, and snitches that currently crowd airports, I wouldn’t breathe a word until I was safely home.

Not Dumbo. She promptly set about earning our designation by blabbing to an employee of Jet Blue. Which is like breaking out of prison so you can tell the first cop you see about your exploit. Naturally, the gate attendant ratted her out to "airport police." Dumbo "was escorted to the security checkpoint and interviewed by the NFTA [Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority]," according to TSA spokesgal Lara Uselding. Get this: Dumbo was on her way to New York City. No doubt our street-savvy sharks have had a field day with her.

Ever notice how police states need multiple goons to handle "security breaches," even when the culprits are too stupid to breathe, let alone cause trouble? This woman of grandmotherly age posed so grave a threat that the NFTA thugs called their TSA counterparts for back-up.

No real terrorists have shown up at American airports since 9/11. That leaves the TSA with its $6 billion annual budget and a Constitution in shreds looking a tad unjustified. And so it capitalizes on passengers like Dumbo by implying that they belong to Al Qaeda. Tragically, the Big Lie works: too many Americans believe that folks who forget the penknife in their briefcase or carry 8 ounces of Listerine instead of 3 are bad guys from whom the TSA protects us.

But the agency forsook its MO in Dumbo’s case: "authorities … believe the woman didn’t mean to breach security and it was an innocent mistake." What gives? Thousands of other equally innocent "terrorists" have suffered emotionally and financially from the TSA’s fines and threats of imprisonment. Perhaps the agency senses a kindred moron here and is extending professional courtesy: Dumbo "will face no charges…"

Dumbo was obviously harmless to everyone but a seatmate hoping for intelligent conversation. And anyway, she’d confessed her sin at the first opportunity. But those facts didn’t keep the TSA from launching its usual "You’re-all-about-to-die!- So -we,-Your-Benevolent-Rulers,-will -make-your-last-moments-as-frustrating,-silly,-and-uncomfortable-as-we-can" blitzkrieg. First, "the TSA shut down the security checkpoint." Nope, I don’t know why either — except that this is the TSA’s standard response to every question, hiccup, glitch or problem. Since the agency’s other response is to force passengers who’ve already endured a search to line up for a second one, you might think the idiots would keep all checkpoints up and running.

Nor did closing the checkpoint end the hysteria. "The East and West concourses were then evacuated, and" — in another flourish of the police state, just to underscore the danger from which it was saving everyone — "bomb dogs brought in. While the concourses were found to be safe," — big surprise, there — "thousands of passengers needed to be re-screened." Oh, get off it: they didn’t "need" to be screened the first time, let alone "re-screened."

This absurdity took 93 minutes, from the time the TSA closed the checkpoint at 4:27 p.m. until "affected travelers were all back on their way by 6 p.m." When will good Amerikans like Dumbo learn that cooperating with Leviathan only brings grief to themselves and their fellow serfs? Nevertheless, those passengers who frantically shuffled schedules and plans can rest assured that Our Masters had their best interests at heart: "NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said NFTA police and staff did everything they could to speed the u2018gate resterilization process.’" Poor Doug should have quit while he was ahead and sounding like only half a horse’s patootie; instead, he went for broke by adding, "We made a conscious decision to sweep the West Concourse first, so TSA could restart the screening process and have a secure space to direct passengers." Geez, my unconscious decisions aren’t this loony.

Doug also promised, “It’s a serious breach and it’s one I know the TSA is going to…take any steps necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.” Yeah, right. Fat chance the agency will take the most obvious step of all: shutting down not just a checkpoint, nor a concourse, but its whole unconstitutional self.

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

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