Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In 'Plane' Sight

People who’ve had experience similar to mine unconscionably guard information about their personal lives—I mean information like birthdates, social security numbers, personal phone numbers, email accounts, home addresses, etc. That information would help the criminals harass us or at the extreme, it would help criminals or terrorists in their quest to hunt us down and kill us or our family members.

As an air marshal I had a bounty on my head put out by Islamic terrorists. As a cop, there were people who wanted to kill me. In other areas of the world where I’ve worked, I was a target of kidnapping or assassination just because of what I did for a living. So at times, like some celebrities who’ve sought anonymity when out in public, I’ve lied.

As a Federal Air Marshal after 9/11, I flew regularly on commercial airlines concealing a pistol and a knife…or two. We had to lie. If the passenger sitting next to me—although she be a little ol’ lady from Kansas—said something like, “Oh, you’re an air marshal? Are you carrying a loaded pistol right now?” that would be bad.

Not only would that possibly make her uncomfortable and scared, but it also might alert the guy sitting just in front of her WHO HAPPENS TO BE A TERRORIST. All he and his friends would have to do is kill me and take my gun and the plane would be theirs. Of course, it wouldn’t come without a terrible fight, but like all terrorists, I’m only mortal. Strength lies in anonymity. Surprise is a tactical necessity to winning, especially against a terrorist who may have a bomb on a plane!

If you think that scenario’s absurd, think again. As much as people would like to unconsciously disbelieve it, the 9/11 terrorists were just ordinary passengers prior to the horrific attack. Besides, I have personally stopped known terrorists in the United States at our airports. Believe me, the nation’s airports and airlines are being probed by terrorists. I would know. If you knew half the things I did, you might start driving more frequently. (Sorry to all those hoping to travel by air over the holidays. Just remember, the odds are in your favor. They can’t bring down EVERY plane, right? But just be prepared to get stuck for a very long time if even one plane gets blown from the sky.)

Surprisingly, the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) management didn’t seem to ‘get’ the concept of having the FAMs be anonymous. So much so that the House Judiciary Committee came out with a report called, ‘Plane Clothes: Lack of Anonymity at the Federal Air Marshal Service compromises Aviation and National Security’. Yeah, you try wearing a full business suit and tie when flying to Vegas on a Friday afternoon in the summer and see if you don’t stand out. Not only could terrorists pick us out (or pick us off), but the lay business traveler and the 12-year-old could too!

That’s one of the big reasons I’m a FORMER air marshal—government stupidity.

Here’s the kicker though: one FAM in Dallas was at work when a Middle Eastern man walked up to his door and knocked. When his wife answered, the suspicious man asked a question he already knew, ‘Is this the home of Air Marshal [so-and-so]?’ The stunned wife didn’t know what to say, but she didn’t have to because the man turned and walked away. Unfortunately, the terror suspect got away too.

So, I’ve told lies. Yeap, I’m teetering on being thrust down to hell. But on the other hand father Abraham ‘feigned himself mad…and let his spittle fall down upon his beard’ (1 Samuel 21:13). He also lied for personal safety reasons by introducing his wife as his sister. And, I don’t ‘bear false witness’, as forbidden in one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:6). No undercover cop worth his salt would commit perjury, but they’d lie all day and night just to catch bad guys.

Anyway, to get to the point—whew, finally—this message is for the lady named Pennie who posted a comment on my last blog (that I didn’t post). Yes, I would love to contact you regarding your son who just received orders to serve here in Iraq. I’d love to help any way I can. Unfortunately, when you send a comment like that I have no way to contact you. (There’s probably some way, but the last time I was any good at anything techno was an Atari in the early 80s. And that was only because it was really simple to operate. I still don’t do digital watches.) (Note: Any email listed here, I do not check regularly if at all.) Please send another comment with your email in the message and I will contact you—and NOT post your personal email for the world to see.

And as for the man who claims he is President Ahmadinejad and who has been sending me loquacious and disturbing rants since I started this blog, you really need to stay on your medication before you hurt yourself or someone else. I’m serious. Go see your psychiatrist.

There’s a prime example of why I try to stay at least a little anonymous. I wouldn’t want that guy ever knocking at my door!

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