- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2007

SSSS class

You think you suffer from headaches while waiting in security lines at Washington Dulles International Airport?

Rest assured, extremists intent on blowing up airplanes have made traveling to the United States a living nightmare for Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, spokesman for the Irish Republican Movement who continues to insist he was never a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

And it doesn’t matter whether Mr. Adams comes calling at the invitation of President Bush.

He says when his passport is swiped into an airport computer “the machine tends to light up like the Christmas tree at Belfast City Hall.”

“When you’re trying to get into America … one of the battery of security measures in force is called ‘Secondary Security Screening Selection,’ or SSSS. This is usually a random selection,” the Irishman writes in a guest column in the Guardian of London, albeit he adds that he is “randomly included for this treatment all the time.”

And normally awaiting his arrival, he says, is an agent or two from the FBI, which “can be a bit of a pain.”

” ‘Have you a schedule, sir?’

” ‘Yup,’ I say, with the patience of a man used to spending four or five hours at a time at the side of Irish roads in the company of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, back in the days when British Army roadblocks were daily rites of passage.

“I hand the FBI young gun a copy of my travel schedule — a document that has been in the possession of the U.S. State Department for the past month or so.

” ‘Huh,’ he says. ‘Why are you going to the White House, sir?’

” ‘To see the president.’

” ‘Huh. Why?’

” ‘He asked me,’ I say evenly.

“My deadpan delivery is wasted on him. Maybe he is used to dealing with wise guys.

” ‘Why, sir?’

” ‘I can’t discuss that with you. Security. You know what I mean.’ ”

It isn’t any easier for the Irishman when he returns home, or so Mr. Adams recalls when “leaving Washington after St. Patrick’s Day last year.”

“We went from a presidential reception at the White House to the airport. Dulles was busy,” he recalls. “The SSSS made it even busier. I settled down with my book and took it easy. There is no point in not taking it easy.

“Later, when we missed our flight, we joined a queue of people, most of whom were of Middle Eastern appearance, looking to retrieve their luggage. Some were elderly. A few were quite … distressed at the way they were being treated. The man behind the desk was friendly.

” ‘You must be Irish,’ he said. ‘You look like that guy, Adams.’

” ‘I know,’ I said. ‘He’s always getting me into trouble.’ ”


We’re not sure what to make of the September 2007 “Harper’s Index”:

Average number of years by which the eight Democratic presidential candidates are older than their spouses: 9

Average number of years by which the nine Republican candidates are: 3

Number of years that Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich are, respectively: 24, 23

Under control

Visitors to the International Spy Museum in Washington are learning that everything from the groceries one picks up at the supermarket to the songs purchased for their IPods are being registered in a “global data mine” — a “mother lode of information” that is then used in various political, social and economic contexts.

Mark Andrejevic has just written a new book on the topic, titled “iSpy,” and he will be appearing at the popular museum, at 800 F St. NW, on Sept. 20 to describe a chilling look at the vortex in which collaborative participation becomes “centralized control.”

Beltway bedlam

In the category of “No, I’m not bitter,” Steve Laffey, the popular former two-term Republican mayor of Cranston, R.I., who was re-elected in 2004 by the widest margin in the city’s history, has titled his just-released book: “Primary Mistake: How the Washington Republican Establishment Lost Everything in 2006 (and Sabotaged My Senatorial Campaign).”

“Where does the GOP establishment get off telling a Reagan Republican that he ‘can’t’ run for the U.S. Senate?” the politician writes.

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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