Lie Like a Rug

Oh, if only the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) were a lowly serf lying to the Feds rather than to taxpayers forced to fund its assaults on them: given all the whoppers it’s told, a judge would imprison it for so many centuries it could never molest any of us again.

"You’re nothing but a chalky alien to TSA [whole-body] scanners," purrs a headline in the San Diego Union Tribune. The article’s author is either as big a liar as the TSA or the most ignorant naïf ever to disgrace journalism, but at least he discloses that he’s retailing propaganda: "The TSA invited the San Diego media out to the airport Tuesday to get an up-close and behind-the-scenes look at how the scanners will work," he writes. Not surprisingly, that "look" convinced him that these pornographic X-rays are a passenger’s best friend. The poor slob never seems to realize that the TSA fields an entire department of professional prevaricators to flatter and fool the corporate media. Nor does the agency’s lengthy list of certified lies dent newshounds’ absolute faith in its credibility. They swallow all the baloney the TSA’s spinners feed them, then regurgitate it for us.

Indeed, Our Intrepid Reporter and his buddies at the TSA blame our lack of a "comfort level" while government’s agents denude us on "negative publicity" from those doggone "civil liberties and privacy organizations" that "question [the scanners’] use as overly intrusive and a u2018virtual strip search’ and even filed suit to halt their installation." The gall!

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But readers’ comments put the kibosh on that little fantasy: many protest as vehemently and vociferously as any "civil liberty or privacy organization" at the TSA’s compulsory strip-tease. (They also castigate Our Intrepid Reporter: "What are you, Hawkins? An unbiased reporter doggedly pursuing truth in the public interest or some TSA apologist?" "I wish Mr. Hawkins had been a little more of an investigative journalist instead of just PR for the TSA.") This heartening phenomenon replays itself constantly across the internet: the more the media’s patsies praise the TSA, the more readers blast it.

No matter: The Hawk shamelessly whitewashes the TSA’s nationwide strip-tease. The "image" the scanners capture of your naked body isn’t "much," he insists; in fact, it’s really "more of an approximation of the human figure" — and we have the TSA’s word on that: "TSA public affairs officer Dwayne Baird called it a u2018chalked etching.’ [San Diego TSA director Michael] Aguilar said it is a u2018pencil sketch.’"

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I don’t know which is more offensive, these breathtaking lies or the utter insult to our intelligence. Screeners at Miami International yukked it up over the "chalked etching" of their fellow pervert, Rolando Negrin, after he volunteered to pose for a scan during a training session (yeah, I was surprised that the TSA trains its yahoos, too. I thought it wanted u2018em fresh from the sewers and still stinking). So explicit was the picture that they teased Negrin for months about his undersized, um, wand. When he finally snapped and attacked a tormentor, pop culture rewarded him with instant immortality. Thousands of stories featuring Rolando’s Little Wand fly about cyberspace; begin typing his name in Google’s search engine, and no less than ten permutations pop up ("rolando negrin, rolando negrin 44, rolando negrin TSA, rolando negrin scan, …") I don’t watch TV, but I can imagine the jokes on the late-night shows.

Nor is the sketch of Rolando’s pencil the only high-profile evidence that these evil scans vie with centerfolds for exposing flesh. The British government famously exempts "under 18s" because the images are so detailed they violate laws against child-pornography. And earlier this year, a female screener at London’s Heathrow Airport accidentally walked through a scanner; the operator salivated over her, um, wands — which were apparently quite a bit larger than Rolando’s. Mr. Screener found himself facing charges of sexual harassment. That emboldened Ms. Screener to proclaim herself traumatized and sue, though she had merely suffered the abuse she heaps on passengers.

Yet the TSA persists in downplaying its explicit pictures. Does it spurn us as morons or just amnesiacs? Its denials are akin to a blood-spattered murderer’s straddling a corpse while his knife drips gore and whining, "But, Officer, honest, I ain’t kilt nobody!" Both murderer and TSA have departed for never-never land, immune to reality. And OK, you and I have always laughed at the TSA when we weren’t sobbing over its destruction of liberty — but what about the sheeple who actually believe it protects American aviation? Doesn’t the agency’s patent psychosis terrify them?

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The Hawk continued his recital of the TSA’s stunningly obvious lies. “u2018This machine can not in any way store, save, transmit, e-mail or send this image anywhere,’ emphasized TSA’s Baird." Adds Our Intrepid Reporter, "It was a phrase repeated almost verbatim by other TSA officials Tuesday…" Ya think? Could it be that they’ve memorized this spiel directly from the TSA’s website? Regardless, it’s another of the lies that headlines gainsay: not only did CNN report earlier this year, "TSA specified in 2008 documents that the machines must have image storage and sending abilities," but the US Marshals Service was caught scanning and saving just last month. Which prompted a smug reminder from the TSA that the Marshals are a separate bureaucracy. Gosh, I’m reassured; how about you?

Meanwhile, the agency never wearies at proving itself our direst enemy. On Thursday, it "detained" a 70-year-old scientist and American citizen at Miami International Airport because he had a "metal canister in his luggage that looked like a pipe bomb" to the TSA’s nitwits.

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Yep: just as four years ago, "they feared that materials in [a] suitcase" belonging to "a Texas man with a Milddle [sic]-Eastern name … could be made into a bomb" at Eagle County Airport in Colorado. "No explosive materials were contained in the bag"; rather the "plastic containers and wire…were used for performing pressure-pulse tests on wells," as the passenger, "an oil researcher working in the fields around Rifle," patiently explained.

You’d think the bozos would learn — or that their outsized stupidity would shame them to silence. But no: this time as well "no explosives have been found," though that never stops the TSA from evacuating concourses and "roadways" and International Airport Hotels and, goodness, likely the whole city of Miami if only they had enough goons. "…A bomb squad spent hours at the airport with fire officials and the others. Fire trucks and police vehicles stood by and a hazardous material team was spotted at the scene." As always, the hysteria and overreaction are entirely the passenger’s fault, not that of municipalities sporting way too many leeches with way too much time on their hands.

Not surprisingly, the victim was "being very cooperative,” according to "FBI agent Michael Leverock." He and Miami-Dade’s cops were "interviewing" the hapless gentleman — because we can’t have a full-scale emergency without the FBI and the local thugs, now, can we? Besides, you know how feisty and violent 70-year-old scientists can be. Mike added, “He’s not under arrest at this time… We don’t know if a crime has been committed here." Ah, but the day’s young: no doubt Our Rulers will invent something.

One passenger stranded by the hoopla sighed, “Traveling right now is a pain but you have to do it. I don’t get overly worried that people will do stupid things.”

Nope. That’s the government’s job.