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NGO_Vleeptron (aka "Bob from Massachusetts") recently featured LIVE on BBC WORLD SERVICE, heard briefly by Gazillions!!!

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old dude, all hair, swell new teeth

17 March 2006

... to report a terrorist nuclear weapon, please press Five. To speak to someone with half a brain ...

I have less than 30 minutes to press PUBLISH to wish you all a Happy Saint Patrick's Day.

This story isn't exactly about Ireland or about the Irish or about Saint Patrick or any of that traditional stuff.

This is about American airports and the new Homeland Security machine on which we depend to keep airports and airplanes safe from terrorist attacks.

Before this gentleman got to Reagan National Airport -- formerly Washington National Airport, about a 15-minute drive across the Potomac from downtown Washington DC -- he had been an invited guest at a St. Patrick's Day celebration at the White House.

The White House -- the President -- is the top agency of the federal government.

Below it, in the Cabinet, is the Department of Homeland Security.

Within that agency is the Transportation Security Administration.

In Hollywood movies and television dramas about terrorist threats, the hero -- smart, clear, focused, reasonably well-educated, well-informed, drop-dead gorgeous, though he's a bit of a rebel -- grabs his cell phone and dials one Special Number.

Immediately someone on the other end answers, listens carefully, and within seconds clearly understands what Dirk Squarejaw is trying to warn him about.

Within minutes, helicopters packed with FBI, CIA, Secret Service, ATF and the Army, Air Force and Navy come screaming to the rescue, with a smooth, coordinated plan and response, and a few minutes later, everybody's saved, the villain is dead or being led away in chains, and everybody's happy and safe again.

The post-9/11 creation of the Homeland Security Department (which immediately swallowed up FEMA in time to respond to Hurricane Katrina) and the attendant federal reorganizations were supposed to plug all the gaping holes in airport and aviation security, and streamline the coordinated federal response to any and all safety threats in the skies.

Cool. Looks like they nabbed another old hippie folksinger just in time. We're saved.

Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein (Irish Gaelic for "We Ourselves"), is the most famous and influential politician in contemporary Northern Ireland.

I'm not saying he's Naughty and I'm not saying he's Nice. What I can say is that if there's ever to be lasting sectarian peace and a functional parliamentary government in Northern Ireland, Mr. Adams will be sitting around the Top Table.

He's Gerry Adams, and he'd just been an invited guest at the White House.

Just as a matter of etiquette and courtesy, I think it would be nice if, when the President of the United States invites somebody to the White House for a party, he also phones Homeland Security to get the guest removed from the federal terrorist no-fly list. Then Homeland Security could call the Transportation Security Administration. Then the TSA could call .............

I think a few months ago, airport security pulled U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy out of the line and detained him for further investigation and scrutiny. Either they didn't believe he was a U.S. Senator, or they didn't know what a U.S. Senator is.

[Okay I found it! It's down at the bottom!]

I'm not saying Ted Kennedy is Naughty or Nice.

But where does Homeland Security find people who never heard of him?

On just the question of airport security and airline safety, we're not safer since these federal agency shuffles.

We're more incompetent now. We've flooded America's airports with badly trained idiots, and flooded their supervising agencies with hopelessly clueless bureaucrats whose training and whose culture forbids them from cooperating with rival agencies.

(TSA's lawyer Carla J. Martin is the genius who tainted the government's witnesses in the Zacarias Moussaoui 9/11 death penalty trial. What the hell the TSA was even doing on the prosecution team is a profound mystery to me. I guess if you're a federal government lawyer, it makes perfect sense.)

And if the federal airport gate guard has an emergency phone number to call in case of trouble or doubt, he/she gets more badly trained idiots on the other end of the line. Or a recording. "If you wish to report an imminent terrorist attack, please press Six now. If you wish to speak to an intelligent person in a position of authority, please press Two now. To hear this menu repeated, you may press One at any time. If you ..............."


The Associated Press
Friday 17 March 2006 21:46

Gerry Adams Detained
at D.C. Airport

Associated Press Writer

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Gerry Adams, leader of the IRA-allied Sinn Fein party in Northern Ireland, was detained at a Washington airport on Friday after attending a St. Patrick's Day event at the White House, according to a congressman.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., who had invited Adams to speak at the Buffalo Irish Center, told the audience Friday night that Adams didn't make it to Buffalo in time because he was detained at Reagan National Airport.

A spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration said she could not confirm that Adams was detained at the airport. Jennifer Peppin said the TSA log showed no record of Adams having been detained or subjected to secondary screening.

A Homeland Security official said Adams had left the Washington area, but he would give no further details.

According to Higgins, Adams' name, and that of a traveling companion, appeared on a terror watch list, triggering a lengthy inspection.

"When I spoke with his assistant a little while ago, their luggage was still being, let's just say, inspected," Higgins told a crowd of several hundred people.

Adams himself was detained over an hour, Higgins said.

"Gerry Adams should not have been on a terror watch list," said Higgins.

Earlier Friday, Adams joined Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and other Irish visitors at a White House St. Patrick's Day ceremony. Last year, President Bush barred all Northern Ireland leaders from the St. Patrick's Day event to put pressure on Adams.

© 2006 The Associated Press


CBS News

America On Guard
Recent threats, the Homeland Security Department, the terror alert system, bio-terror and emergency preparedness.

Ted Kennedy's
Airport Adventure

CAPITOL HILL, Aug. 19, 2004
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (CBS)

Kennedy says he had to enlist the help of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to get his name stricken from the list. The process took several weeks, in all.

(CBS/AP) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee heard Thursday morning from one of its own about some of the problems with airline "watch" lists.

Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy says he had a close encounter with the lists when trying to take the US Airways shuttle out of Washington to Boston.

The ticket agent wouldn't let him on the plane. His name was on the list in error. With help from an airport supervisor, Kennedy was able to fly home, but then the same thing happened coming back to Washington. Some phone calls straightened things out.

Kennedy says he had to enlist the help of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to get his name stricken from the list. The process took several weeks, in all.

And Kennedy asks what about the little guy?

The Department of Homeland Security tried to explain the incidents. A DHS spokesman said that on one flight Kennedy was misidentified as someone who needed extra screening when going through security, because he was mistakenly identified as someone on a watch list.

Another time, the spokesman says, Kennedy was tagged for extra screening under a security system that watches for such factors as a person buying a one-way ticket or paying with cash.

He says Kennedy was never on a "no-fly" list, which automatically keeps a person off a plane.

©MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

VLEEPTRON MORAL: If you run into this kind of trouble while trying to fly, phone the Secretary of Homeland Security (now Michael Chertoff) and he'll straighten everything out for you as quickly as he can.

btw the current DHS Terrorism Threat Alert Level is:



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