Written by leonard glass
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Topics: Flying, Airport, TSA

Thursday, 21 August 2008

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In the face of repeated and widely publicized failures to detect handguns at airports and radioactive materials at ports, our investigation has revealed that the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) has developed a covert plan to avoid future humiliations. Intercepted emails between high officials in the TSA and White House confirm that the agency, universally considered laughably inept at interdicting contraband, planned an incremental and unannounced shift in mission to become "the deciders" of "what's hot and what's not," in the words of one of the plan's authors, who declined to be interviewed for this story.

Documents reveal that the initial phase was to involve seizing a charter flight from the Caribbean to O'Hare carrying the entire production crew of "Girls Gone Wild." Detaining these subjects "for security reasons" would offend few constituencies, the emails assert; that is, few willing to invite public association with that enterprise. Next, air travelers wearing cutoffs and novelty t-shirts (e.g., "FBI=Female Body Inspector") were to be rounded up for extensive and prolonged "background checks." Expanding its purview to airport parking lots, the plan called for "taste agents" to impound all Hummers, SUV's, and pick-ups-with-oversized-tires. A whistleblower confirmed that the TSA anticipated public support for the resultant easier airport parking and drop in gas prices. Environmentalists also were expected to applaud; pushback from the ACLU was to be shrugged off.

Next, sources revealed that all passenger cars with darkly tinted glass and exorbitant sound systems were to be rounded up and the owners taken into custody ("noise terrorism.") The TSA recognized that the seizing of these "gangsta cars" would likely prompt cries of racism from Jesse Jackson, and it would be a loud bleating and difficult to ignore. The protests were predicted to subside, however, when the first contingent of NASCAR drivers and owners as well as many of its most vociferous fans, also were taken away on similar grounds.

By then, the agency concluded that no one would be surprised when all-terrain vehicles, water-skis, and motorboats were confiscated. Then, motorcycles with an engine displacement of greater than 50 cc and less than four mufflers were to be proscribed. The TSA assumed that the national headquarters of the Hell's Angels would threaten a continuous "Rolling Thunder" campaign, but predicted that remarkably few would be left to carry out the threat after the impounding of motorboats and, it was to be acknowledged at a later date, people with whole arm tattoos.

Virtually all of these actions fell within the Agency's "transportation" mandate, albeit more broadly defined. But one official warned in a later email that suspicions would be unavoidable when the agency, following an Executive Order (which the President would assert did not require Congressional review), moved to change its name to "TSA," much as Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC without formally acknowledging its wider menu offerings. FOX news then could be counted on to dismiss concerns that this presaged the emergence of what would be later undeniably recognizable as the "Taste Standards Authority."

Perhaps the most shocking revelation was the TSA's bold plan to raze all of the McMansions in Westchester County. From the air, the landscape just north of New York would take on a post-Katrina look, if widely spaced golf courses with expensive rubble in between can be fairly described that way. Mr. Bush, reprising a memorable earlier photo op, would be called on to pronounce this a "Good Job, Brownie," a "Mission Accomplished," or some other catchy phrase White House speechwriters could fashion.

Support for the newly denominated and enfranchised TSA was projected to grow after its dramatic first 100 days. Enthusiasts would sport "TSA" baseball caps, eclipsing their NYPD and NYFD progenitors. This could lead to some confusion as bona fide TSA officials patrolled city streets, handing out citations to women who "just should not wear shorts" and any man over 50 with dyed hair and an unrelated woman 20 or more years his junior on his arm.

The emails also detailed early plans for task forces dedicated to "Cell Phone Abuse," "Cinema Etiquette," "Dubious Landscape Elements," and, "Do You Really Have to Chew with Your Mouth Open?"

The plan's main strategic goal was to avoid further ridicule by "preemptive strikes." "We'd get to define what was uncool; it's a lot easier than finding bombs," the hither-to secret memo declared.

Responding to news of the disclosures, the Bush Administration denied any knowledge or involvement in the scheme, although Press Secretary Dana Perino did point out the "green" aspect of preserving the "TSA" logo so that no new uniforms would be required.

Leonard L. Glass
8/20/08

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