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"Views on airport screeners raise a disturbing issue"

Friday, December 22, 2006

Views on airport screeners raise a disturbing issue
By Paul Carpenter
The Lehigh Valley (PA) Morning Call

One favorite family story is about how it took Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Bill
three days to drive from Cleveland to their home near Buffalo.

I am sure it never snows up where Dorothy and Bill reside now, but when they
were down here, they were a family anomaly. They hated driving in snow
despite living in the Snow Belt. The rest of us were not bothered by it,
although we'd reduce speed by at least 5 mph when snow on a road got more
than a foot deep.

Perhaps because we did not want to be the butt of family jokes, some of us
developed a talent for driving long distances. My son, Neal, holds the
record: Eden, N.Y., to Sacramento in 46 hours, by himself, beating my time
by 31/2 hours.

On Tuesday, when I wrote about driving to a Colorado ski area in 11/2 days,
I anticipated skepticism. So I made sure I had my fuel receipts, including
one from Carlisle, Pa., and another from Idaho Springs, Colo., just over 37
hours later.

Sure enough, there were a number of doubting calls and letters, so if you
need proof, I'll keep copies of those receipts at the office and you can
stop by to look at them.

My point was that it does not take much longer to drive than fly, when you
consider the hellish delays in airports these days. (I did not seriously
exceed speed limits, either.)

On a more serious note, there also was reaction to the comments I made
Tuesday about the federal government's airport security screeners. Those
comments were harsh, with me speculating that evil forces in government were
deliberately making screeners obnoxious, to acclimate Americans ''to
draconian government control.''

Zeev Zimerman of Bethlehem is one of those who disagreed, saying I
''attacked the wrong people.'' He has flown frequently from Lehigh Valley
International Airport and found screeners who ''were polite, helpful and

(I admit screeners at some airports are worse than at others. I think those
at Newark and Philadelphia, for example, learned deportment from ''A
Clockwork Orange.'')

Other readers shared my view, including an Orefield woman who often flies
from the Lehigh Valley to Denver.

''The security people [at LVIA] are rude, condescending and ridiculous,''
she wrote, recounting episodes in which screeners confiscated harmless
items, such as a small ice pack to preserve some ham she was taking along.
''Security threw away our ice pack and sarcastically said, 'Don't they have
ham in Colorado?'''

The most disturbing thing about the Orefield woman's letter was its last

'' Please don't use my name because I'm flying out again mid-January. Who
knows what they'd do to me after this commentary,'' she said.

That, to me, is the worst outrage of all. A law-abiding citizen has to fear
government goons because of her decision to engage in free speech.

America is supposed to be a country where government is subservient to the
people - not the other way around.

You say oppression is justified by a war on terrorism?

Baloney . Terrorists are unlikely to hijack airliners again for one reason,
and it's not a fear of federal screeners.

It's because of what happened on United Flight 93.

It was average citizens, not government, that foiled that mission. Now,
terrorists know they might be able to kill themselves and fellow passengers,
but they never will be able to bully their way into control of an airliner
to do massive damage. They will have to employ other atrocities, such as a
crude nuclear bomb smuggled through our sieve-like ports.

So I long for the day when government goons have more to fear from American
citizens than citizens have to fear from government. Until that day, we are
allowing the kind of society sought by terrorists.

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