17 November 2010
Editor's Note: Progressive Theology's roving reporter, Jon Swift, concerned about the security of Americans flying across the country or around the world this holiday season, was granted an interview by TSA (Transportation Security Administration) Director John Pistole. As an added bonus, an unexpected guest dropped by to put in his two cents' worth about security issues.
Progressive Theology: This is Jon Swift, reporting for Progressive Theology, from TSA headquarters in Washington, DC. I'm joined tonight by TSA Director John Pistole. Thank you, sir, for agreeing to talk with me.
John Pistole: No problem, Jon. It's an honor.
PT: All right, let's get started. It's all over the news, the incident where a man refused to go through the full body scanner, then threatened to call the police if TSA officials patting him down "touched his junk." What's your take?
JP: Well, Jon, the TSA is looking into filing charges against this individual.
PT: (somewhat aghast) What? On what grounds?
JP: For endangering the lives of other Americans, of course. We're looking into treason charges as well.
PT: Doesn't that seem a little over the top? I mean, come on, maybe the guy just didn't want to be molested in public.
JP: (sternly) That's not the issue at all! We all have to make some minor sacrifices if we're to keep our country safe.
PT: So you advocate groping U.S. citizens as a way of keeping them safe?
JP: Let's be accurate here. We grope non-U.S. citizens as well.
PT: My apologies.
JP: No problem. And yes, I can't think of any better way to keep them safe. Our analysts have studied the issue of aviation security, and we're convinced this is the best way. I think the flying public will agree after they've had time to think about it.
PT: And experience it for themselves? I mean, what's so bad about a few naked pictures or a good feeling out? Some people pay good money for that!
JP: (smiling) Exactly! And everyone knows that the images we scan are immediately discarded. No one will get their jollies out of looking at these pictures, because we delete them as soon as our personnel are through gawking at them.
PT: I see. Then how do you explain these images? (shows images on his laptop to JP)
JP: (startled) Where did you get those?
PT: Off the web. I guess they weren't deleted like they were supposed to be.
JP: (sheepishly) I guess not.
PT: And when I look at these images, they seem a little more, shall we say, revealing than I think the public has generally been led to believe.
JP: (defensively) Yeah, well, maybe they are. We really didn't want the pubic, I mean the public, to know how much TSA scanners were able to see.
PT: It's quite an eyeful.
JP: Maybe, but remember, these are really low-paid employees, not like your average federal employee that makes over $100,000 a year. There has to be some non-monetary compensation.
PT: I can see that. But where do you get the idea that the average federal employee makes over $100,000 per year?
JP: I heard it on Fox News, and it's a standard Republican talking point, so it must be true.
PT: (skeptically) I see. But moving on, isn't this intrusion into the privacy of Americans a little bit excessive, not to mention a violation of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable search?
JP: (angrily) That's where I disagree with you, Jon. I believe this is an entirely appropriate intrusion into Americans' privacy. It's a search all right, but it's hardly unreasonable.
JP: Well, if we don't invade the privacy of our citizens--and visitors to the country, don't forget--
PT: How could I?
JP: If we don't invade their privacy, how are we going to protect them from the terrorists? There's no other conceivable way to do it! (ranting) No other way! We're on constant red alert, not even orange any more! There are potential terrorists everywhere! Maybe that young "mother" over there is carrying a baby-bomb. Maybe that guide dog has anthrax in her fur. Maybe we're not doing enough! Strip searches! Strip searches for everyone!
PT: (alarmed) Calm down, calm down, it's OK.
JP: (with a crazed look in his eyes) Sorry. Sometimes I get a little carried away. It's just that I'm so determined not to let the terrorists win.
PT: Has it ever occurred to you that terrorists all over the world are laughing their butts off right now? Some would say they've already won.
JP: (eyes narrowing) Who would say that?
PT: (shocked) Not me, if that's what you're asking! Let me pursue a comment you made, though. You said there's no other way to protect Americans than to subject them to humiliating and invasive searches or aggressive, hands-on genital massages.
JP: Right. So?
PT: Well, it occurs to me that one way to prevent terrorist attacks would be to pull American troops out of the Middle East. And stop killing civilians in Pakistan with unmanned drones. And stop paying mercenaries to shoot up cars loaded with Afghan workers. And stop turning a blind eye to Israeli settlement building on the West Bank and in Jerusalem. And replace a couple of billion dollars of military spending with aid packages to help the poor and to fight curable diseases in places like Haiti. Should I go on?
JP: (staring blankly) Huh? How would that help?
PT: Let me explain, ....
Independent "Democrat" Senator Joe Lieberman: Fascist! Anti-Semite!
PT: (startled) Senator Lieberman! What are you doing crashing my interview with John Pistole?
JL: I couldn't stand by while you make racist, anti-Semitic comments that undermine American security!
PT: Anti-Semitic? You mean because I said we ought to consider asking Israel to stop building in Palestinian territory?
JL: Exactly! Anyone who criticizes Israel demonstrates himself to be an anti-Semite.
PT: Have you ever read the Israeli press? They criticize their government all the time, just like we do ours.
JL: They're anti-Semites as well!
PT: (skeptically) Anti-Semitic Jews? I don't know....
JL: Well I do.
PT: Well, you're Jewish, so you should know.
JL: Damn right!
PT: But getting back to security, do you agree that porno scans and genital fondling are necessary evils in a world overrun by terrorists?
JL: Absolutely. But I'd correct one thing you said.
PT: What's that?
JL: I don't see them as evils at all. As my good friend Senator David Vitter of Louisiana will tell you, a little porn and some extramarital sexual encounters never hurt anyone. And he should know: he just got re-elected because he stands for security and family values!
PT: Uh-huh. I see. That does make some sense. I can see both of your points. But turning back to you, John Pistole, I do have one suggestion that might make your program more successful and acceptable to the general public.
JP: What's that?
PT: When doing pat-downs, instead of always pairing airline passengers with TSA reps of the same sex, why not mix it up a little?
JP: (thoughtfully) Hmmm, I hadn't thought of that.
PT: In fact, why not let passengers choose the TSA rep they want to be fondled by? And while you're at it, why not hire TSA reps from adult modeling agencies, escort services, and massage parlors?
JP: (excitedly) Now that's a good idea! But where can I find a list of agencies like that?
JL: (pulling out his cell phone) Hold on, let me give David a call.
PT: This is John Swift, from TSA headquarters in Washington, DC, signing off.
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