Boys and Their Toys

In its perennial quest to justify its existence and the $7 billion of our taxes it annually wastes, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is up to its usual tricks at American airports. When its screeners aren’t leering at naked passengers on millimeter-wave scanners, they’re manufacturing terrorists from innocuous Americans. Nor do these heartless bureaucrats care about the ruined lives that litter their wake. Neither kids nor US Marines are safe from their abuse, either.

Last Tuesday, screeners at Denver International Airport (DIA) called the cops on a 12-year-old boy flying to California with his family. They claim he tried to take "a homemade device similar to a flare" through the TSA’s checkpoint.

We used to call "devices" like this "science projects"; indeed, things that go "pop" and incorporate a bit of gunpowder (or so we’ll assume: the bomb squad raced to DIA’s rescue) were once a rite of passage for American boys. Then feminism hijacked our world. That turned these educational, masculine totems into "improvised explosive devices" and damned the boys still autonomous enough to delight in them as criminals.

Leviathan formerly prized manliness, perhaps because aggressive daredevils explored and conquered new territory for it. But strong, virile warriors tend to rebel when the beast becomes too oppressive. That taught rulers to appreciate effeminacy. Wimps who quake and tremble eagerly trade freedom for safety, spurn logic in favor of demagoguery, and revel in dependency. No wonder the modern State craves sissies for citizens.

And so the TSA savaged our anonymous boy. (Like cockroaches and other vermin, the agency hugs the shadows. This time it blames its furtiveness on the "juvenile’s" age, refusing to divulge his name or further details, rather than the usual mantra of "national security.") Screeners sicced the cops on him. Those bullies had no more shame than to arrest and interrogate a child. They admit that "no planes or passengers were jeopardized," yet the boy could still face felony charges. That’ll teach him what comes of being a guy.

Another of the TSA’s victims is 10 years older and just as innocent of any malice or motive. Justin Reed is a corporal with the Marine Corps who teaches a course on explosives at a base in California. A few months ago, he wanted to fly home to North Carolina and surprise his wife on their second anniversary. So he left class for Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport with a suitcase full of the props he uses while lecturing: a gun in a locked box, a fully loaded gun magazine, a grenade fuse and detonator, three model-rocket engines containing explosive mixtures, some electrical components, and ammunition. Like the "homemade device" of our latter-day Tom Sawyer, none of these "pose an imminent threat to aviation," as even the TSA admits.

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Cpl. Reed checked the bag and declared the gun, following the TSA’s arbitrary dictates. His luggage successfully negotiated McCarran’s new, $1.25 million baggage screening equipment, which supposedly ferrets out precisely the sort of things Cpl. Miller packed. He changed planes at Boston Logan. When screeners there subjected his bags to another warrantless search, they found the contraband. Cops arrested this US Marine and recipient of the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and Good Conduct Medal for possessing an "infernal machine." He pled not guilty at his arraignment on April 21.

It doesn’t take actual grenade fuses and detonators to launch the TSA towards new heights of lunacy, however. Give it fake weapons, and the agency makes itself into an even bigger buffoon.

Another anonymous American features in our next incident, which may be no more authentic than is the TSA’s alleged mission of "protect[ing] the nation’s transportation systems." No media anywhere confirm this story; the TSA alone reports it on its website. Since the agency lies all the time, about everything, this tale could well be yet another of its fabrications. If so, it should hire spinners whose yarns won’t emphasize its utter imbecility.

The TSA says a screener at Newark International Airport discovered "replica improvised explosive devices, accompanied by inert blasting caps" in a passenger’s checked bags. Barney Fife "recogniz[ed] the threat items" and "immediately notified" the usual gang of nincompoops, including "law enforcement" and a "Bomb Appraisal Officer."

Leviathan’s lickspittles will point out that it’s tough to determine at a glance whether wires and boxes wrapped in electrical tape are about to blow. Yep, and that’s why the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment prohibits morons from rifling their betters’ baggage: people transport all sorts of things beyond the ken of the average screener — and, apparently, the average "law enforcement" and "Bomb Appraisal Officer," too, since neither nitwit tried to set Barney straight: "Look, you idiot, they’re fake. Grow up and quit wastin’ my time." Instead, "with the possibility of an explosive" (huh?), these bozos "evacuated several gate areas, the security checkpoint and the baggage screening area." Their little charade "displaced about a thousand passengers and affected at least 9 flights." But, as the TSA blithely babbles, "the incident reminds TSA employees that a threat item could be detected at any time." Au contraire: an army of "threat items" wearing uniforms and blue gloves remains largely undetected after seven years of endangering aviation.

At some point, even the TSA couldn’t prolong this absurdity any further. So it "worked [sic] to repopulate the terminal and rescreen all passengers and employees" while "Newark FSD [Federal Security Director] Barbara Powell" prattled, “Our goal is to keep passengers safe and keep harmful items off planes." Pssst, Babs: replica; inert. “Every once in a while," this simpleton simpered, "it is a fellow passenger who interrupts an otherwise streamlined process." Yeah, right. The process is about as streamlined as the replicas were real.

Despite the TSA’s endless mendacity and incompetence, its employees admirably fulfill the propaganda published on the agency’s "I Am TSA" webpage: "I…[draw] on my imagination to creatively protect America from harm."

For sure they aren’t drawing on their intelligence.