Chicken or fish? Airline caterers exempt from TSA screening

30 Nov in Corporatism, TSA / Homeland Security
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please don't touch me sir

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It is said that given a sufficient timeline, even a blindfolded monkey could eventually crank out the complete works of William Shakespeare.  So while I find the mainstream media's latest obsession with TSA overreach nothing more than crass opportunism in exploiting a momentary twitter peak, I have been enjoying the catharsis of finally seeing air- and ink-time devoted to exposing this dark stain on our national identity.

In the wake of 9-11, we not only ceded airport authority to agents lacking any substantial training in either law-enforcement or civil liberties, but did so in such a manner as to effectively exempt then from oversight under the constitution-busting guise of 'national security.'  Anyone surprised by abuses, or the banality of evil "just following orders" vein of defense, should seriously consider a career in public relations.  Yet among the various accounts of those urine-stained, lead-vulvad and child molested victims of this behemoth, scant attention has been paid to the more telling question of who remains exempt from these invasions.

The Washington Post ran an article last week that broached this issue in terms of governmental officials (who must travel with their own security detail), soldiers (who may bring AK-47s on board but not nail clippers) and pilots (who must surrender the same butter knives issued during in-flight meals).  All of this we tolerate in the name of the ongoing farce that is airline travel.  But when it comes to airside caterers, we say, "let them pass, good sirs!"  Yes, the employees responsible for feeding us our stale bread and pretzel bags are required only to swipe their Port Authority ID through an unmanned turnstile to gain access to secured areas.  According to Salon's Patrick Smith:

Actually, this is something I wrote about, to no measurable reception, in a column over five years ago.  Little has changed since then. With all of the recent talk about airport security, this ought to be a bombshell of a story. Every media outfit in the country should be covering it. It undermines almost everything TSA has told us from the beginning about the "need" to screen pilots and flight attendants, and if there is a more ringing "let me get this straight ..." scenario anywhere in the realm of airport security, I’d like to hear it.

Since the TSA is clearly aware of the loophole, it is difficult to see this as anything other than the same selective myopia that lead to a crackdown on airport security while virtually ignoring the far more pervasive threat to our nation's maritime ports.  In that case it was the lobbying efforts of Walmart in using its economic influence to subvert efforts towards tighter port security insofar as “security requirements should not become a barrier to trade.”  Yet given the wasteful spending lavished upon aviation security, it is difficult to reconcile our unwillingness to subject multinationals to the same treatment demanded by the TSA.

Chomsky once noted that a democracy is a state whose central institutions are under popular control, whereas under capitalism, those institutions are under autocratic control.  When Bob's Catering Conglomerate can move freely about while I have to choose between a radiation bath or public hand-job, I have to ask which one we really are?

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