26 January 2010

Soft Power and Airport Officials

I've long heard data about how America has the worst customs processes and the surliest customs officers. Most Americans don't think about it, but it's a huge soft power issue because those are the first Americans many foreigners interact with.

I've also thought long and hard about the culture of impunity that law enforcement officers have in this country, where they can taser children and demand whatever they want of people, without fear of repercussions.

I've also come to realize that our wars on terrorism and drugs both have led to some very insane excesses all over the world. Cities shut down because of "mysterious white powder" (which is almost never anything more dangerous that flour), and even the suspicion of drugs can get you hauled off to prison and your belongings impounded.

Put these together and what do you have? Practical joke playing TSA officers who probably gave a poor woman a near heart attack.
A college student returning to school after the winter break fell victim to a prank at Philadelphia's airport by a Transportation Security Administration worker who pretended to plant a plastic bag of white powder in her carry-on luggage.
The man is no longer employed by the TSA, which is something. However, this man had been a supervisor, training other new employees. It shows that something is clearly very broken there.

(h/t Armchair Generalist for pointing out the story.)

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