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TSA and the Rule of Law
I've been on the TSA Watch List for years. I know all about not being able to check in at home or at the curb or at the kiosk, the long lines and rude questions, the shuntings from one counter to another, the super-scrutinies, the wonderings out loud about whether I'll able to provide the "documentation" they need, guessing what the required documentation will be this time, the ransacking of my luggage . . . . It's all too familiar. I've even had lost luggage, but until now i never occurred to me that the Bush Administration might be behind the disappearance. But that's probably because, for good or ill, I've never spoken publicly against the Bush administration. (I'm not saying I couldn't come up with something to say). Why am I, Patrick Brennan, not free to fly without interference? I'd be tempted to say that I'm on the Watch List is because of my association with MOJ, but I've been on the Watch List longer than I've been on MOJ. I have spoken in favor of the Church, however. Will that do it? Perhaps speech has nothing to do with it and it's sufficient that I'm a Patrick Brennan? I've done everything possible to get off the list. I do have the consolation of a letter telling me that agency's decision on my request to be removed from the List is final and, therefore, appealable to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The special beauty of the letter, though, is that it doesn't tell me what the agency decided, not even a clue. I'm still on the list, that's for sure -- but the letter doesn't even admit that I was ever on the list to begin with.
Just one story. One time, several years ago, I was noticing wide discrepancies in the TSA agents' practices regarding travelers' shoes. To some people they said, "You are required to remove your shoes." To others they said, "We recommend that you remove yours shoes." To still others, "No need to remove your shoes." Sure enough, not all shoes are created equal, but that wasn't the point. Wanting to know more about what the point was, when told that I "must" remove my shoes, I said, "But not everybody is being told to remove their shoes." Answer: "Everybody has to remove their shoes." Brennan: "But I read the TSA rules, and that's not what they say." Answer (after a long, anguished pause): "You can't have read the rules. They're not written down anywhere." Q.E.D.
From Mirror of Justice posted 2007-04-19.