Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer

Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer
They sent me here just to watch...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

TSA pats down a 6 year old girl. Were they looking for rat poop in the cookies?

Everyone was offended by the pat down of the young girl by TSA.  If we will be honest with ourselves, we don’t like having our privacy invaded as adults either.  But here is the reality.  We don’t want to be on the airplane that has one more safe takeoff than it does landings.  In a perfect world, the number of safe landings matches the number of take offs.
Terrorists have their share of dummies.  They get caught.  We laugh at them and feel secure once again.  They also have their share of reconnaissance specialists.  If they detect a weakness—any weakness—it will be shared and attempts made to exploit it.  That’s the nature of combat.
The war on terror, by definition, does not take place only in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, or Yemen.   Terrorist are not restricted by traditional boundaries. 
The most faithful soldier or Marine sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies would not think of using a 6 year old girl to accomplish his or her mission; but a terrorist would. 
To destroy a jet airliner remains among one of the high value objectives by those desiring to do this nation harm.  To gain control of such an aircraft and do damage to another high value target on the ground or airborne is of even greater value to our enemies.  If that mean using an unsuspecting child as a mule for something that would help terrorists accomplish this end; then such an unthinkable act becomes doctrine until countermeasures are developed.
Many complain that the Constitution is being bypassed or ignored.  Most who complain have never read this foundational document from beginning to end.  Make no mistake about it, there are Constitutional issues regarding the right to privacy—a right not found in the Constitution or its Bill of Rights but found by the courts in the penumbra  of a few Amendments. 
Here is the dilemma and where we get down to the cookie making.
Let’s say we are making Chocolate Chip Cookies.  How much more American can you get?  OK, besides apple pie and baseball.  Let’s use this recipe.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup all purpose rat poop
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup good quality chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cold butter, dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, granulated sugar and espresso with a hand mixer. Mix at slow speed for 30 seconds and increase speed until the mixture is fluffy, about 6 minutes. Lower the speed and add the eggs 1 at a time. Add vanilla and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture in batches. Stir with a spatula until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips and rat poop and spoon the dough onto 2 parchment lined cookie sheets at least an inch apart. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet half way through so that the cookies bake evenly. Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Can you smell them already?  Who is hungry?
What do you mean you won’t eat them?  They are just about the same as any chocolate chip cookie recipe that you find anywhere.
Yes, that is, except for the rat poop; but it’s only half a cup.
Still too much?  How about just a table spoon of rodent dung?  A teaspoon?
Any is too much?

Let’s change gears.  How many knives, acids, or explosive devices are you willing to allow on your flight with you?  How many box cutters, nonmetallic firearms, or other items with potential for lethality do you want coming aboard?
Using a young child to bring these on board is not fair!
Correct, unless you use the terrorists definition of fair.  Fair is whatever gives advantage as they strike at such a monumental target as the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Some contend if we have to go through these searches then the terrorists have already won.  Not true.  They have inconvenienced many for sure, but they have not won.
Today it is popular to pick on the TSA, but we should consider that we have not had another terrorist hijacking incident in this country since 9-11.  It’s not that attempts were not made.  It is that they were thwarted or prevented from the onset by proactive security measures.
I don’t want any rat poop in my cookies.  I don’t want any explosives on my flight.  I do want to protect the rights guaranteed under our Constitution.  It is a balancing act.  So far, the balance has leaned towards some invasion of privacy but has protected the somewhat invaded for a decade without incident.
We take our liberty for granted because the battle is fought by others.  Some of those others work for the TSA.  They are seldom in harm’s way as our deployed servicemen and women are, but they receive a hundred fold the ridicule.
Some would say that even if the pat down was a good thing, it went too far.
We should realize that once the video camera came into the equation; the circumstances changed.  These could have been angry parents.  They could have been opportunistic parents.  They could have been a test for the TSA agent.  Once the camera entered the equation, it was a different equation.
With the event being captured for posterity, the mindset of the agent most likely went to a heightened awareness mode.  Her thinking was probably along the lines of “There is no way that anything is getting past me now.”
It is the nature of supervision and inspection.  Those observed directly perform differently than those left to their own standards or routine levels of supervision.  The video camera changed the equation.
I have been through nations and airports where there were advisories issued cautioning against travel for Americans.  I have seen unclaimed luggage loaded aboard my 747 aircraft in Athens, Greece—one of those places where I was warned the safety procedures were suspect.  I have prayed that God would keep the bombs off of my flight home as the airport security was not much interested in the process.
Our nation has been a balancing act from the onset.  Power and rights, state and federal claims to power, three branches of government, and even an Electoral College are all part of a nation set up not for efficiency, but survival in a power hungry world. 
And so the balancing act continues today.
I say that the parents could have asked for a supervisor.  If the supervisor confirmed the search was necessary for the safety of others; then the parents had one more lesson to teach their daughter.  We must regard others more highly than ourselves.  We do make some individual sacrifices for the benefit of the whole.
If you don’t like the security measures in place, take it out on our elected officials and get the policy changed.  Give the front line TSA agent a break for keeping you safe and be thankful that someone else is paying the price for liberty in blood other than you.

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