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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Civil Dialogue/Debate

The dialogue continues with Kent Ballard:


From: Kent Ballard []
Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 1:47 PM
To: Lyle Davis
Subject: Re: USA Police State - Air Travel

Dear Mr. Shipley:

It's refreshing in this graceless day and age to get a reply from anyone as polite and to the point as you, most especially if they have a bone to pick with something you've written. I feel compelled to answer your post and, first, say that from your comments I believe we would have much more in common than we could find to differ about. Still, in this matter, I see some things in another light.

> I can't entirely agree with Mr Ballard.* * >

> I agree things are getting out of hand, but if you want to do
it right then follow everything Israel does and arrive very

I see a method that was improperly set up, in great haste and political expediency, that forces people to "go along with the system" instead of a system that goes along with the people.

The personal time of doctors, businesspeople, salesmen, professionals from all walks of life, and even the casual traveler is as important to them as personal time is important to airport security personnel. This fact seems to have become forgotten. We're long recovered from our national shock at the 9/11 attacks. We were badly rattled then. Now is the time to develop a newer, more refined, speedier, and much more dignified way to treat air travelers. In my opinion, we're actually long past that time.

> Mr Ballard is on somewhat of a 'rant'.

Agreed. Had I known my words would be sent beyond the small group of friends I was emailing, I would have chosen them with a bit more taste and decorum. But I would have said the same thing.

> I was a Screening supervisor for 3 years so I should know. Passengers act like Jerks because they are running late. The traveler who doesproper planning is prepared and early as recommended. The early traveler is friendly and never in a bad mood!_I always recommend to friends and family that they go to TSA's web site to read the latest travel advisory in order to prepare for a better trip.

Under the current TSA system, people have no opportunity to disagree with you. They either submit or they don't fly. I realize the need for security and am aware of our technological limitations. But I also suspect that if you and I were suddenly made "travel czars" we alone could develop a better method than what is currently in place. I'd say the same for a bright high school class.

This is not an impossible problem to correct. We have enough intelligent people to do it. The question is, do our political leaders have enough intelligence to implement one?

> Not all Screeners are former warehouse workers!It just so happens to
> be that ever since the cut backs in defense spending by Bush and
> Clinton in the late 80 to 90's MOST of the humans unemployed
in the U.S.A. were and still are Unemployed Aerospace Workers. We
are still in and out of the work force. I meet them in every company I
get hired at. And I have many jobs since I was laid-off in 1993
after 12 years with Hughes Aircraft Company. Hughes cut _60,000 jobs_
(50 percent of thework force) over a 5 year period. TRW, Northrop, > Boeing, MacAir, General Dynamics and on and on also made similar
> cuts. In the New England States _50,000 small businesses _which were sub-contractors went outof business! And the hate filled, brainless Libs want to
attack Carly Fiorina.

This may be true in California and New England, but as a Midwesterner I'd bet dollars to donuts that far more auto workers lost their jobs since the late 1970's than all aerospace workers combined on both the left and right coasts. Like you point out, it's not only the workers for the large, household-name corporations. It's also the thousands of "satellite" businesses that fed from the Big Three, as if an unknown but horrible plague swept mid-America leaving nothing but desolation in its wake. When the auto industry was still the economic powerhouse of the United States it was calculated that for every UAW Autoworker, ten other Americans depended on those paychecks for their jobs.Since the ongoing American deindustrialization began in the 1970s all those jobs, plus the ones you mentioned, are gone and will never return. I know. I worked for 26 years for General Motors. After some time with them, I applied for their Skilled Trades test and scored the highest ever recorded in that plant. I worked days and went to school nights (or vice-versa) for four years studying everything from trigonometry to advanced metallurgy. When finished with my classes I was eight college credit hours short of an engineering degree.

Do you know what I heard for those 26 years? Every problem in America was blamed on "fat, lazy, union autoworkers." Everything from the price of groceries to the weather was blamed on us. We became a punchline in jokes. We were never looked upon with respect by anyone in the media or general public. Now that all those jobs have been shipped overseas, people are wondering why they cannot find a good-paying job, if any job at all. It's no mystery to me.

I tell you this because you kindly shared some of your background with me, and reading between your lines I understood how a job can give a man an "us versus them" attitude. I feel that people (wrongly) do not look at the system currently in place as the enemy. They merely blame the people they come in contact with, the average TSA worker. And when they do that, they're as wrong as can be. It's not the men and women in the TSA. It's the TSA itself and the guidelines under which they have been ordered to operate.

But I mention all this to underscore the point that most people only know what they are told. And save for the very rare interview or sidebar in a magazine, we haven't been told how the Israelis do things differently concerning airport security--and do it much better. If we have a President who will bow from the waist to sheiks and emperors, we could at least learn from others on matters of more importance.

> Several million American workers were laid- off due to cut-backs in defense spending. Mostly under the miss-guided control of Democrats!In CA _61 percent_ of the unemployed in the 90s were laid-off Aerospace Workers! Many Electrical Engineers and I. T. related jobs. That percentage is still high today. Wen I was in TSA I
> worked with many formerly laid-off Aerospace Workers like myself. Oh
> and by the way; as a young man I was a warehouse worker and
> supervisor for 7 years!

It's an honorable profession. While on a "rant" people tend to paint with a very broad brush and I'm no different. Let's move to neutral territory for a moment and talk about law enforcement officers. I've had several friends in my life that were either policemen or deputy sheriffs. They tend to stick together, an "us and them" mentality. And when you make friends with one, you seem to find yourself around a dozen in no time. Both you and I have been honored to meet some of the good ones, the guys we tell our children to look up to. We've also ran afoul of some of the bad ones, mere lifelong thugs who somehow managed to get a badge pinned on their arrogance. And therein lies the problem. Both are supported and protected by the State. A good cop never needs that protection. Bad ones rely on it.

The same can be said for TSA officers. You never hear about the courteous and thoughtful ones. The public (eventually) walks past them and forgets what they even looked like. But the bad ones--and there are many in all professions--should be dragged out and administered several sturdy blows to the head and body. And yet--like cops--you are extremely limited in your options when under even their temporary control.

> It's true i worked with a lot of rift-raf! at TSA. No doubt about it
> there were sum low life rejects working for TSA but:I also worked with _a retired man that once **owned** 3 McDonalds_. _a man who **is** a Command Master SGT_ in the Army Reserves,a retired man who's wife **is** the Fire Chief_ at the Airport, a man that **was** a SGT on a Police Dept_. A _woman who **is** a
full time > Officer in the Coast Guard_! Many young high school and college graduates looking for _a good career._ We had many younger
> Reservists who were in the Navy, Marine and Army Reserves whom were
> called to active duty to go to war in Afghanistan. We had many
> laid-off Engineers and Computer Programmers! TSA has many great
> people working hard and re-training each and every day in order to
> feel proud of their performance and protect U.S.

Sir, how does owning a McDonald's or being a laid-off computer programmer prepare one for a job which is, essentially, that of an international anti-terrorist agent? I assume there is a training procedure and also assume it's claimed to be "rigorous." But couldn't a simple store salesgirl or gas station attendant undergo the same training and, if they are attentive and honest, have the same federal badge pinned on them?

I've seen people who never had any real power in their lives go utterly mad when given even a little. Taking my salesgirl or gas jockey, or any of the people you mentioned above, and give them the full weight of the United States government's power behind them, and it will cause some to become arrogant, hateful, disrespectful of the public and even the Constitution, let alone any rules and regulations put forth by the TSA.

Please understand I'm NOT picking on the average TSA agent. Far from it. I'm trying to point out that every organization has its "bad apples" and of course they get all the attention, not the average or even exemplary employee. One suggestion I would put forth is that an oversight committee be made to weed out the people who give the TSA such a poor image, assuming we keep the TSA at all.

Even a casual search through the Internet will convince anyone that more and more genuine complaints are being lodged against the TSA. There are too many horror stories to ignore. My original comments on the subject were, as I said, written to a small chat group of friends. Allow me to quote one of those friends, an 83 year old woman, who recently experienced this--

> Okay, I’ve just spent the last half hour laughing. I think we’ve
> all heard the news about the guy who refused the new naked
body scan at airports, and when they told him how they would pat him
down with a groin check, he said, “Okay, but if you touch my junk, I’ll
have you arrested.” The remarks we’re getting on the talk shows are
> hilarious, but then I saw the picture of the nun being patted
down> on Drudge. That wasn’t funny. Then I heard they’re going to
make exceptions for Muslim women. But not nuns? That’s when I said
it’s time to forget Political Correctness and start profiling the
> bombers, middle eastern men and some middle eastern women. I
was in> an airport being patted down and there was an old man who
looked in> his 90’s being examined in the same room. He was so feeble he
> couldn’t get his shoes back on by himself. It made me really
angry> at the time and I pointed to him and 83 year old me and said,
“We> really fit the profile, don’t we?” I got this very cold stare
from> the officer who said, “What profile, ma’am?”

Others on the small group told of similar experiences, and in a reply this same woman noted--

> My daughter-in-law asked the agent after she watched me being patted
> down, "Was it good for you?" It's an outrage.

The Israelis use PROFILING. That's a bad word in politically correct America. But they don't do the above to elderly people and have a superb record of flight safety on El Al. This was my point, Mr. Shipley. What the TSA expects the American public to undergo for airline security is far more of an insult to our freedoms than mere "profiling." We've laws in place now that make it clear if you want to board a commercial aircraft you WILL submit to these things. What I propose is a change. I propose we make laws stating that you will be subjected to profiling if you want to fly, and if you have reason not to submit to this, stay away from airports. This would bring an end to stories like that of the nine year old child who was required to remove the braces from his crippled legs by a TSA agent in order to pass through a metal detector, or any of the growing number of other outrages being reported more and more frequently.

> Screeners are expected NEVER to make any deviation in the exacting
> procedures and screening practices. They receive daily training and
> re-training.Any simple deviation and they may be reprimanded!

Now you're the one with the broad brush, sir. Screeners have been documented doing as they damned well please, completely disregarding any rules, regulations, training, or common sense. Certainly they are in the tiny minority. And I know of no psychological test which can eliminate the "bad apples" before they are hired. As you said, you found some of those bad apples yourself.

> As Kent Ballard pointed out the only Screening done at the airport is
> Profiling'. Well, this is due to he fact that the 'thorough'
> screening already tookplace a mile and a half ago! If we did
> here those angry and selfish passengers running late would
have > conniption fits. Talk about delays and needing to arrive
early! The > heart attack rate would rise dramatically and the ACLU and
the > Liberal Mafia would have a field day suing the TSA.

It's going to come to that anyway, and I think sooner rather than later.

> The only time we get close to this is when the 'Alert Level' goes
> higher. Then the public traffic is prohibited (other than the
Airport > Shuttles) from entering the airport. When ever this happens
the public> goes nuts. The complaints flow in like a tidal wave! And
forget ever> adopting 'profiling' - I wish!

In your last three words I find that we are in agreement. Besides the hasty, bloated, new federal bureaucracy we use, I agree wholeheartedly that offsite baggage and luggage checks be made and expert profiling be implemented as quickly as possible. We have chemical "sniffers" that would end the disgrace of sending Americans through backscatter machines to be viewed naked by strangers. Simple metal detectors would, of course, be used in conjunction with them. But our front line of defense should not be to turn Americans against each other, instead our front line should be profiling.

And very sadly, I also agree with you that our government does not have the political willpower to do this. It might interfere with a few votes during the next election and some might lose their jobs. In the meantime, men and women of goodwill are becoming more exasperated with each other, the upstanding TSA agents and law-abiding travelers, and it's only getting worse. In this regard, I see politicians as our common enemy, an enemy that, as I said, I'm far more frightened of than any terrorist group.

Kent Ballard

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