Hebshi Shoshana is an American citizen and the mother of 7-year-old twins. She's also one of the latest casualties of the hysteria built into our national war on terror.
On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, she flew on Frontier Airlines flight to Detroit. When the plane pulled up to the gate, all the passengers onboard were ordered to stay in their seats, put their heads down, and their arms up in front of them. Federal agents carrying large, military style weapons then boarded the plan, and marched down the aisles.
"I wondered if there was a fugitive on board," Shoshana said.
What she didn't realize at the time was the she was the "fugitive."
The agents stopped at Shoshana's row, ordered her to stand up along with two other men she had been randomly seated next to, and then she was handcuffed and removed from the plane at gunpoint. From there, they put her in a small jail cell, stripped the American mother of two children naked, and told to squat and cough while officers watched.
"I was scared and alone," she said. "I can't begin to describe the humiliation I felt. No one would tell me what was going on despite my repeated requests for information. No one told me of my rights, or when I would be able to call my family, who had no idea where I was."
After some time, Shoshana was interrogated by an FBI agent. And she eventually learned that she was removed from the plane because of her ethnic name and her seat assignment.
She'd been seated between two men who were described by flight attendants as "possibly of Arab descent." Those men had gone to the restroom a few times during the flight.
They, too, were American citizens. Of Indian descent. But, in our post-9/11 fear-frenzy whipped up by George W. Bush, the simple act of using the bathroom while "Arab looking" is enough to get you dragged off a plane at gunpoint. And, under the PATRIOT Act, it's completely justifiable for federal agents armed to the teeth to spring into action and drag you, because of whoever is sitting next to you, off the plane, strip you naked, and put you in a jail cell indefinitely without a phone call, without a right to a lawyer, and without any information whatsoever about why you're being detained. And they can legally keep you there for the rest of your life.
~ from Are "We the People" the Terrorists Now? by Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks ~
I found this shocking tale interesting because, as readers know, I recently took a train trip. I purchased my ticket online and my e-ticket stated in BOLD LETTERS that I would need to provide identification BEFORE my ticket would be honored.
Guess what? At no time was I asked for my ID. I simply showed the conductor my e-ticket and I was allowed on the train. I could have been carrying a bomb in my bag -- I wasn't -- and no one would have been the wiser. I could have been some person up to no good, but since I'm an older white guy, nobody bothered to ask.
It just seems weird to me that authorities are so hyper vigilant when it comes to air travel, but so blase if you travel by train or bus.
And it's not that I think everyone on the train should have been patted down either. Personally, I think most of these "security measures" border on being hysterically overwrought. My point is more that, if you're worried about the damage a supposed "terrorist" could render on airplane, couldn't someone do about as much damage to a crowded train?