- The Washington Times - Monday, March 3, 2003

Baby wand
We're continuing our search for the most absurd anti-terrorism security-related measures whether encountered by the aviators in airports or by 7-year-old girls at the entrance to Walt Disney World. The final batch of examples is coming up tomorrow.
US Airways Capt. Thomas Heidenberger, who has lobbied Congress to authorize airline pilots to carry pistols in the cockpits, writes: "I am a 20-plus-year captain for US Airways. I have been in aviation for 30-plus years. I am also the surviving spouse of Michele Heidenberger, who, as a working flight attendant aboard American Airlines Flight 77, was killed on September 11, 2001 at the Pentagon.
"I went back to work in mid-October 2001 as a tribute to my wife, the 33 other crew members, and the 3,200 other innocent victims of that day so that their deaths would not be in vain. Every day I pass through security [but] watch fellow airline employees bypass security screening. These same employees now have unrestricted access to the ramp and to aircraft. How secure is this? What might they be carrying? I am not opposed to security screening in any fashion. But it must be 100 percent. If not, we will relive September 11th again. I, for one, do not want anyone going through what my family has."
Greg Zorbach, a captain for Southwest Airlines, recalls the heavily armed National Guardsmen who were posted at airport security checkpoints after September 11. "I was reporting for a trip one morning at the same time a Guard member was attempting to get through security to take up his post just inside the concourse. The screener made him put his weapon through the X-ray machine. I still can't figure out what they were looking for inside that gun … another gun?"
A Marine lieutenant colonel, who asks that we not reveal his name, writes from the war front: "Last May, I was ordered to support CJTF-180 and was on my way to Afghanistan from my parent command, Marine Forces, Pacific. The first leg of my trip had me leave from Honolulu International Airport. I had in my possession, and presented to the agent, an official U.S. passport maroon as opposed to the blue issued to private citizens my military orders and government-issued tickets. I was also in uniform.
"When I passed through the first screening, I was told to take off my shoes so that they might be inspected. As you can imagine, I attracted a great deal of attention. Here I am, a lieutenant colonel of Marines, in uniform, being subjected to having my shoes off so that they could be examined. I was incredulous."
J. Duke of Texas points out that while "some of these airlines are chiming in about how ludicrous the government screeners are, I laugh at their own stupidity."
He cites the custom of some airlines to escort air marshals "down the jetway in front of all of the passengers, blowing their cover. It is imperative that these marshals remain unknown to the passengers in order to protect the cockpit."
Holly Anderson of Corpus Christi, Texas, works on the Boeing-Logistics Apache Program. "While going through security at Baltimore-Washington International Airport this past August, my husband and I were asked to take both of our cats out of their cages," she writes. "Not a fun thing to do to two cats that are scared to death and still have their claws. The security guy noticed me rolling my eyes and told me that if I wanted to I could leave them in the cages and send them both through the X-ray machine. He was serious."
And here's a baby story from Denver International Airport.
"I was travelling back East for Thanksgiving with my 18-month-old son and my wife," writes James Powers of Denver. "I was wearing steel-toed boots that set off the alarms and was instructed to go into a clear 'booth' and await security personnel.
"My son, not really understanding what was going on, [was carried in] after me in the booth. When security came to 'wand' me, they decided that they had to check out my son, too, just in case I had slipped some explosives and guns into his diaper, I suppose."
Peace conference
Speaking of terror, which makes "peace" such a forlorn pursuit when war seems inevitable and imminent, a group of academics, clergymen and current and former public officials met in suburban Washington during the weekend to talk about an unusual approach to the ancient goal of turning swords into plowshares.
Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia, James Mancham of Seychelles, Stanislav Shushkevich of Belarus and Steingrimur Hermannsson of Iceland, all former presidents or prime ministers, met with rabbis, imams, bishops and archbishops and others from a wide swath of religious and political opinion in the Middle East under the auspices of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington.
Their meeting room overlooks the Pentagon, where the delegates could see for themselves the last fading traces of the dirty work of September 11.
The idea, all very high-minded, is to call on the assets of religious and political disciplines to look beyond mere coexistence of hostile populations an elusive goal for lo these millennia to "a new culture of peace." The conferees were instructed to seek a balance between the "idealistic" and the "realistic" to be neither naive nor "afraid to dream."

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