Friday, July 15, 2011

Saving the world from warriors and knife collectors


TSA spokesman Kawika Riley says an officer operating an X-ray machine at Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport last week noticed something suspicious in the man’s luggage, and a fellow officer’s search turned up the knives. Riley says they included switchblade knives and a butterfly knife.
This wouldn't be the first time some dude lost all of his knives to the meat-gazing, kiddie -fondling, TSA pecker-checkers at the security checkpoint at BWI; I have had almost the exact same thing happen to me once while on my way to the beautiful beach-like resort of Ramadi in the exciting province of Al-Anbar, and I guess it would be alright if I told another whopper of a story this week about that experience:

About five years ago I had a task to go to Iraq as a contractor on a program for a year, and I had a lot of training to get done in a short amount of time which meant that I had little time to pack. I was offered the services of a company that ordered a large portion of the equipment that I needed, and my time to pack it came the night before I was to leave from BWI to El-Paso for processing into South West Asia.

I packed all through the night waiving all of my time to sleep, and the finished product was two very packed seabags, a lock box to transport my M9, ammo, and magazines, and my ruck that was almost ripping at the seams from my gear. My wife took me to the airport that morning to see me off and, having very recently married to compensate for the timing of this trip, and the fact that she was saying good bye to her husband for a year while he went to a dangerous place to do dangerous things, she was not in high spirits. Neither was I.

I checked the two seabags and my M9, at which point the ticket lady said that I could not check any more baggage, but my ruck was small enough that it would pass as a carry on item. Tears were already flowing at this point and my mind was elsewhere, so I shrugged my shoulders and grabbed the ruck and headed over to the security station. I was the only one being checked at that moment, as there was nobody in line, so I kissed my wife goodbye and watched her walk around the corner before picking my ruck up and putting it onto the conveyor for an x-ray.

By that time a few other travelers had shown up for the violation of their rights, body and property, and I was cursing under my breath at whichever one of those morons was holding up the x-ray machine; I needed to get going to catch my flight. There was a dogpile of TSA goons at the x-ray machine, all in one great big confused ball, and then two police officers showed up and postured themselves like something was wrong.

Then it hit me. . . .

"Oh. OH! Yeah, about that bag. . . .hey guys, uhhhmmm. . . . I know what y'all are looking at, and I can explain" I said to the TSA people, because I had just realized the mistake that I had made at the ticket counter. All of my knives were in my ruck, along with an MSR stove and empty aluminum fuel bottle, several large sharpening stones (a TSA goon asked me if they were "rune stones." Amazing), and also my desert boots and cammies and stuff. I had intended to check that bag, but in the moment of everything I had forgot that I had packed my 8" tanto Ka-Bar, CRKT M21-04 folder, Cold Steel Arc-Angel balisong, Klein folding electrician's knife, and Gerber and Leatherman multi-tools, and had just carried them right into a security checkpoint.

This was all a misunderstanding because I wasn't trying to sneak them through security, and I had no intentions of harming anyone in this country with those knives, so I hoped that cooler heads would prevail and I would be escorted back to the ticket counter. That turned out to be a stupid idea.

I was promptly arrested and charged with the same charges the man in the above article was charged with. The arresting officer and his Sergeant were realists about it, telling me that this happens all the time and that Soldiers, Marines and such go to jail left and right for forgetting that they have a knife in their pocket or a multitool in their bag. The Sergeant even told me that he had to arrest a Marine Brigadier General the week before who forgot his loaded M9 was in his briefcase when he flew back from Iraq.

One older officer there though --officer Diddlydooright -- was a complete and total fucking moron, and was a constant douchebag about every little thing even though I was as calm and cooperative as I could be and had shown everyone my government orders, ID, cammies, and the ticket stub from my M9 that I checked at the ticket counter. Why would I try to smuggle a bunch of knives on a plane to do harm when I had a pistol and ammo? That didn't matter to Diddlydooright.

He flipped out that I even had a gun; flipped out when he found holsters in my ruck, yelling at me about "why do you need a holster!?!?" I told him I was on my way to Iraq; you know, that hot place where Americans are being shot at? I held up my government orders that stated where I was going, and that I was to be armed while I was there, signed by a Major General, so that Diddlydooright could see it, and his eyes glazed over like I had just told him I was heading to Ohio. "You don't need a gun! You don't need a holster! This is a SWAT TACTICAL KNIFE! What are you doing with a SWAT knife?!?"

IIIIIRRRRRAAAAAQQQQQ. He didn't get it.

That fucktard cop tormented me for hours and hours while I was booked. When he measured and photographed my knives, he recorded the blade size as being the entire length of the knife. About every fifteen minutes he would come by, pick up my CRKT, and then shout at me for having a SWAT TACTICAL KNIFE! "What err yeeew dooooooin' with a SWAT TACTICAL KNIFE?!?" Then he would stick me in a cell. Ten minutes later when the arresting officer or the Sergeant would come by and see me in there, they would shake their head and pull me out of there and uncuff me, letting me sit quietly in a chair next to them. Whenever officer Fuckface would walk by or try to talk to the other officers, they would roll their eyes or respond to him with a snarky comment. Whenever they would leave, officer Fuckface Von-diddlydooright would come by, sigh out loud, put cuffs on me and stick me back in the cell. I had the impression that everyone was waiting for his ass to retire.

The arresting officer eventually took me before the Magistrate, who let me go on my own recognizance. She also said flatly that this happens all the time, and that the officers are not allowed any discretion to solve the matter without arrest. There's the door - good luck.

By the time that I got to El-Paso about eighteen hours had passed. I still hadn't slept and was a very bitter person to say the least, and my anger was about to go full into the red. When I got to the unclaimed luggage office, the lights were off and no one was there. A stack of luggage four foot high completely filled the office and spilled ten feet out into the lobby; and there at the very end of the stack was the shitty plastic lockbox that held my M9, six magazines, and two fifty round boxes of 124 grain NATO ball ammo - a shitty plastic lockbox that could be opened with a paper clip.

Way to make the world a safer place with that zero tolerance policy. You guys really saved the day.

I ended up having to spend $2,000 on a lawyer to settle the charges. I tried to handle it on my own by calling the Clerk of the Court from an Iridium sat phone while sitting in the sand next to a dumpster, explaining to her my situation, but was told that if I missed my court date they would issue a warrant for my arrest and I would come home a fugitive. Tough shit.

I never did get the $600 in knives back. I picked up another Ka-Bar in Texas, and also a Benchmade Rukus to put in my pocket, and they served and still serve me well. I wonder about how many Servicemen and Servicewomen get jammed up in the gears of "justice" while trying their best to do their duty under adverse conditions. I have no doubts that the poor guy in the article above really is a knife collector, and just made a mistake. At least he doesn't have to go to war after being processed through jail.

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