Transcript: Thom Hartmann riffs about TSA gropes and security theater, 18 Nov '10

Thom Hartmann: Okay, there’s some history here, you know. When it comes to like smuggling stuff which is really at the bottom line, when you get right down to the whole thing. What this whole TSA 'may I grope your genitals, please' stuff is about is trying to stop people from smuggling explosives onto airplanes. Or weapons. And that seems like a perfectly reasonable thing. So have we been successful at stopping people from smuggling things on airplanes in the past? You know, white powder things. Or pasty things. Or even relatively solid things. The fact of the matter is that thousands of pounds, literally thousands of pounds of cocaine and heroin and god only knows how many diamonds are every single day in this world smuggled across country blinds on airplanes by people who have stuck them up their butt, stuck them in their mouth, swallowed them or put them in some other body cavity.

So if you’re a serious and dedicated, you know, suicide bomber, or saboteur and you look at all the security theater that Michael Chertoff’s lobbying firm has brought to us, the Chertoff Associates here in Washington DC has brought to us. You know the biggest lobbyist for these you know, I call them “oh you want skin cancer machines.” What it has brought to us is that okay somebody wants to get a couple of ounces of C3, enough to take down an airplane, into an airplane? Put it in a condom, and stick it in their butt, just like they do with cocaine and heroine. And then if they want to take down the airplane, go into the bathroom, take it out, and ignite it.

How long is it going to be, assuming that there’s actually, that this whole security theater isn’t just an extension of the whole Bush be afraid, be very afraid, keep the populous terrified, make the boogey men boogey men, let Bin Laden win. This is Bin Laden having won because of George Bush’s stupid response to 9-11. And you know once the machine gets going, the machine doesn’t stop and I’ll bet you 90% of the people in the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA who are making these decisions to say okay let’s go from wanding people to groping people, are the same people who were there during the Bush administration. And in many cases they don’t even have ideology. It’s just the machine running downhill. Being pushed really hard by lobbyists like Michael Chertoff. Who are making a fortune on this stuff.

In fact I would submit to you that the gropes are punitive elements that are only there to push people to say yes I want the x-ray machine please. So Michael Chertoff can make another couple million bucks. And the fact of the matter is that they are not making us any safer. Yes, there was the underwear bomber, okay great, so he had a bunch of stuff in his underwear. You don’t think that the next guy, so okay now we’re going to check their underwear. So the next guy is going to stick it up his butt or he’s going to swallow it, or he’s going to hold it in his mouth if he’s really good at that, although probably you’ve got to, somebody at TSA asked you a question and you grarhgrarh I don’t think that would work. But sticking things in that rear cavity has a long, long history.

Like I said, this is routinely how blood diamonds are smuggled out of Africa. This is routinely how heroin and cocaine are smuggled into Europe, and the United States. Routinely. So at some point some light bulb is going to go off and they’re going to say jeez, we hadn’t realized this! We, you know, we were listening to the Thom Hartmann program and he pointed out to us that you could put enough C4 in that place where people put cocaine and heroin to take down a plane. So from now on, when you go through TSA security, drop trough and get ready for the KY jelly. I mean is that the next step? Because if it’s not, this is absurd.

Because the scanners don’t look inside your body, even the scanners don’t look inside your body. And groping your genitals, I mean, I can see the help wanted ad now for the TSA. Do you like groping people’s genitals? We have a job for you! Maybe we could start recruiting from the court system. You know instead of sending sex offenders to jail, give them a job! Make them productive members of society. Why throw away useful people? Is it starting to dawn on you how absurd this is?

I still remember when Louise and I went to Germany last fall and went through airport security and I don’t frankly recall which country it was, I believe it was Germany, It might have been, you know, one of the Scandinavian countries. And as I went up to the security line to put my stuff through the x-ray machine and walk through the magnetometer, and I get magnetometers, you know, I don’t want somebody carrying a gun on an airplane either. As I got up to that thing I said shall I take my shoes off and the woman who was standing there, who was a security officer laughed and said, no we’re not as frightened as you Americans. Like, you guys are the jokes of the world.

The joke just went on steroids. And if they don’t start using the rubber glove and the KY jelly, this is a joke. And if they do start using it, how many people are going to fly? I’m serious. I actually called you know one of the two airlines that I fly last week and I said you know I just wanted to call and tell you that I’m not flying next year, screw it, it’s too much trouble. Of course halfway through it, because I was calling on my AT&T iPhone 4, the call dropped. So I’m not sure how much of my message they got. I’ve got to call them back.

Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.

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to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
From Cracking the Code:
"No one communicates more thoughtfully or effectively on the radio airwaves than Thom Hartmann. He gets inside the arguments and helps people to think them through—to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
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