We are at the Very Edge of Becomming a Police State

Joseph - Whitesboro, New York
Entered on March 21, 2008

This I believe:

I suffer from minor digestive and anxiety problems. I used to tell my family that I probably wouldn’t figure out what was causing my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) until something came apart and I ended up in an emergency room. About a month ago I suffered such debilitating pain that I couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes at a time. Only minutes into meeting my ER PA, she said, “I bet you have kidney stones.” She was right. I passed several smaller stones on my own, however one stone remained in place causing a persistent discomfort and possibly aggravating my IBS condition. Since the stone appeared to be relatively stable, I was advised that it was okay to take a brief business trip. The docs were able to schedule my kidney stone surgery for the day after I got back.

I could not find my brand of spray deodorant in a 3 Oz size, so once in Chicago, I went to a Wal-Mart and bought a regular can, planning to leave it at the hotel. I also bought a six pack of the power drink for older folks “ensure”, both to drink the night before my business meeting and for my hour long drive from the airport, since I was thinking there might not be time to buy more back in Syracuse before the cutoff time for drinking before surgery the following day.

At Chicago O’Hare, I was directed to a kiosk computer check-in booth to sign in. When I checked my bag I asked the agent if it was okay to have plastic drink bottles in the checked bag and she said yes. Making my way to the TSA checkpoint, a TSA agent was holding open one of those fabric guiding lines letting folks in. I said “one more”, and she let me in too. When I showed my ID and boarding pass, a stern looking TSA woman informed me that I had been selected for further special screening. I was taken aside to an open area and asked to place all of my carry on luggage into the normal trays and then an agent put them back in the normal scanner line. Then I got a series of commands from different TSA agents, such as “stand there”, “move over here, but do not cross this line”, and “stand in the foot marks on the carpet”. A respectful TSA agent patted down my body from shoulders and arms to feet. He then found my now unattended stack of items mixed in at the end of the regular line and closely inspected every item and wiped my eBook reader for residues to be analyzed. I was eventually allowed to proceed. No reason was given and no apology was offered. I was not told why I was selected, so I can only guess that our government which finds al-Qaeda behind every tree wondered if I was testing the system with the plastic drink bottles, or perhaps a camera and computer noticed the anxiety of a fatigued and weary traveler suffering from a kidney stone.

I was trained as a Naval Aviator and proudly served as a U.S. Coast Guard pilot, also I spent much of my engineering career working at a U.S. National Laboratory. And, yet my government chooses to humiliate me by patting me down like a common criminal and searched both my checked and carry-on bag for my protection and the protection of my fellow passengers. I believe that the United States is currently on the very edge of moving towards becoming a police state. I also believe that it is not too late to recognize and stop this trend now.