Sunday, August 27, 2006

THE AIR MARSHALL'S NEW BADGE

AP's "Business Writer" reported yesterday that an American college student flew from Argentina to Houston with "a stick of dynamite in [his] checked luggage . . . caus[ing] two flights to be diverted, others to be delayed and passengers to be questioned." I find this mildly amusing. Why? Two things:
* Argentinian authorities are apparently "in contact with U.S. officials as they opened their own probe into how the explosive got into the baggage."
Uhhh? I gotta suggestion. Maybe he . . . put it there? Just a guess.
* "There was no indication terrorism was involved in any of the incidents."
And why's that, exactly? Maybe because the suspect is "Howard McFarland Fish," a 21 year-old Lafayette College student, whose father hails from Old Lyme, CT. According to Wikipedia, Old Lyme is over 97% white, and has a per family income of nearly $76,000/yr.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess Howie's neither dark nor scary. In fact, he sounds an awful lot like the man who lives in that big house in Washington, DC. Made of old sandstone, not old limestone, but pretty close. The similarities continue. Howard Fish, the suspect's father, said:
he's "certain" that his son "intended no harm," but only "bought the dynamite while visiting a silver mine while traveling in South America."
I smell a non-sequitur, but nonetheless, he also said:

It's a 21-year-old kid not paying careful attention to the press and thinking it would be cool to have a piece of dynamite.

So let's review the facts on this kid, shall we? He's not up on the news, he's kinda dumb, and he's an idiotic prankster, oblivious to the inconveniences and hassles he brings upon other passengers. Sounds just like someone we know. Plus, he's from Connecticut and carries an old-fashioned, WASP-y sounding name associated with a scion family.

(There's also that probably apocryphal story of the Decider's predilection for blowing up small animals with M-80s as a lad, but who really knows?)

Oh well. Meanwhile, at the tail end of the article, the AP Business Writer goes on to list a series of recent incidents, sounding much like a countdown of "America's Most Fearful & Overzealous Air Marshalls":

• An American Airlines flight from England to Chicago was forced to land in Bangor, Maine, after federal officials "learned of a reported threat." FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz said no one was arrested but declined to say if anyone from the flight out of Manchester was in custody.

A "reported threat." But the federal employee just doesn't feel like telling us "if anyone from the flight" was arrested, or anything like that. Report on the incident? Sure. Raise the general fear level? Of course! Reveal any of the actual facts? That's classified; move along.

• A US Airways jet was diverted to Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport after a federal air marshal subdued a disruptive passenger who had pushed a flight attendant, the FBI said. The passenger was undergoing a mental evaluation, and authorities had yet to determine what criminal charges he might face. The twin-engine jet returned to flight three hours later on its trip from Phoenix to Charlotte, N.C.
A passenger now "undergoing a mental evaluation" pushed a flight attendant who probably had the temerity to tell him not to go to the bathroom, but to sit down. So . . . bring in the Feds and delay the flight for three hours.

• A Continental Airlines flight from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Bakersfield, Calif., was held in El Paso, one of its scheduled stops, after the crew discovered a missing panel in the lavatory, authorities said.
Well, there's a real emergency situation. With that panel missing, the whole plane could've broken up on re-entry.

• A utility knife was found on a vacant passenger seat of a US Airways flight that had traveled from Philadelphia to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, state police said. No arrests were made and there were no threats involved, said Master Sgt. J. Paul Vance, state police spokesman.
No arrests . . . because no threats. But a news story in there somewhere. Whoever found that knife on the seat was talking to the press, someway, somehow!

• An Aer Lingus flight from New York to Dublin was evacuated Friday morning during a scheduled stopover in western Ireland following a bomb threat that turned out to be unfounded, officials said.
Unfounded bomb threat. Seems the rule rather than ther exception lately. And saving the best for last . . .

• A United Airlines flight out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport was delayed because a small boy said something inappropriate, according to a government official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. "He didn't want to fly," the official said.
That's the inappropriate "something"? Let me be the first to say, I can't blame him. Maybe like the boy who told everyone the emperor wore no clothes, he's the only one to notice these "security" policies have no teeth.

And no brains.

8 Comments:

Anonymous nyhmr said...

First question is how they found the dynamite to begin with?

Second, is how stupid is this Fish character?

Third, is this asshole still allowed out of his house without adult supervision?

Fourth, why don't have something along the lines of caning like they do in Singapore, because this one is definitely a prime candidate to have his ass whupped?

Fifth, how does one acquire a stick of dynamite at a silver mine? Don't the Germans have explosive safety, handling and storage guidelines in Argentina?

11:23 AM  
Blogger Weaseldog said...

Here's a link to the story from the kid that lost his iPod in a toilet.

http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=11211166&pageNo=1

As I see it, all this running around produces paperwork, job security and a justification for bigger budgets. It's known as failing upwards.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Weas-

That story sounds made-up, but it's clever satire anyway. If it didn't happen, it sure seems as if it could've.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Weaseldog said...

That did happen. It's the iPod incident in Ottowa.

Check out the links to newspaper articles lower down in that page.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Wow. Hard to imagine. Even by today's standards, those questions the investigators asked him sound exaggerated.

But maybe . . .

11:59 AM  
Blogger Weaseldog said...

They are using interrogation techniques, designed to break people down. And they are using them on people that they already know, engaged in no wrongdoing.

The reason they are asked embarrassing questions, is in order to wear people down and keep them on the defensive.

At the end of these articles, the passengers describe themselves as worn out, exhausted, run down.

They've essentially experienced low grade torture and have been harrassed for no reason.

The people who put these passengers through these ordeals knew there was no need.

I don't think these are isolated events, but are part of a training program for civilian interrogators.

These emergencies can be 'manufactured' at will. Any pretense will do.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

And that's just the Canadians!

One can only imagine the American System. Are we waterboarding passengers in coach?

10:25 PM  
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9:36 PM  

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