Fred: Could I Get a Quantity Discount?

R.A. Hettinga rah at
Tue Jan 12 11:49:48 PST 2010


Fred on Everything

Their Own Self
FRED Columns

The Price of Freedom
Could I Get a Quantity Discount?

January 11, 2010

On February 17, at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, DC, a
young Nigerian terrorist named Farouk Abdul al Faisal attempted to board
United Airlines flight 1497 to Stuttgart, Germany. He had eluded detechtion by
the FBI, and was not on the Terrorist Watch List. He seemed to have succeeded
in his aims.

Al Faisal had not counted on an alert TSA employee, as none had been
encountered before. TSA agent Michael Trabinney noticed that Faruouks cheeks
were puffed out strangely. He pulled the young African aside for further
screening and discovered in his mouth a condom filled with black powder and a
detonator. Trabinney sounded the alarm and Farouk was arrested. The Department
of Homeland Security immediately closed the airport for three days, saying
that, since the terrorist was in custody and posed no further threat, extreme
measures were necessary. Travel snarled around the world as flights were
diverted or canceled.

Janet Napolitano, the chief of DHS, said in a press conference that the event
showed the lengths to which enemies of our freedoms will go. In order to keep
Americans safe, the Department will initiate mouth exams on all boarding
passengers. Henceforth no condoms will be allowed on board.

A contract for three billion dollars was issued to buy latex detectors, and an
additional agent was added at each security gate in the nation, at a salary of
sixty thousand dollars a year. They told barefoot passengers to Say ah.

President Obama, according to some being worried about seeming soft on
national security, announced that he would talk with his counterparts in other
countries about requiring oral exams, and would fund research into automated
ah-scanners. Manufacturers of dental equipment received development contracts
totaling $1.2 billion.

The new measures went relatively smoothly, though there were isolated
glitches. A woman with a broken jaw wired shut was pulled out of line,
interrogated for hours, and arrested for refusing to answer questions except
to say Ummm, ummm. A TSA agent at Houston International, hired under federal
affirmative-action guidelines, confiscated a latex glove, saying that it
looked like a multiple-use condom and you never could be too careful with

Following the implementation of the new measures, airline traffic fell five

Then in early June a fifteen-year-old kid in Dubuque posted, to an Egyptian
website, under the name of Sheik Wasabi, a disturbing story. While in Cairo,
said Sheik Wasabi, he had met a radical Islamic plastic surgeon who was
fitting female martyrs with explosive breastimplants. The teenager then
forgot about his post, having received a new X Box. However, some thirty
people saw the post and called the FBI, which ignored them.

Finally Maxwell Bjorn, president of the instrument-manufacturer Artful Devices
Inc., called Janet Napolitano directly. He had done the calculations, he said.
A D-cup could unquestionably bring down an airliner. The only way to protect
our democracy, he said, would be either to install automated palpators, or use
x-rays. Fortunately for America his firm happened to have suitable designs, at
$2.2 million each.

Napolitano chose x-rays, reasoning that while ugly women might prefer
palpation, others would find it invasive.

The American Medical Association prepared a brief arguing that the radiation
would raise cancer rates, particularly in frequent fliers. The surgeons in the
membership scotched the brief, viewing it as being in restraint of trade.

Napolitano defended the new machines on national television, telling the
country that, cancer rates would go up slightly, but freedom isnt free. It
has a price. Throughout the history of our great nation, patriots have given
their lives to defend our way of life. We too must be willing to bear the
burden. She then flew to an appointment in a private Citation.

Passenger traffic fell fifteen percent. Napolitano said that this was a good
thing, as it gives our enemies fewer targets. We must make it as difficult as
possible to attack our freedoms.

For a while, terror seemed to have been defeated. Distant events changed the
situation drastically.

In Afghansitan, the CIA ran drone strikes against Moslems from a remote and
secret base in rural Helmand. Day after day the Predators took off to blow up
villages that might or might not harbor a terrorist, thus protecting our
freedoms. The base employed a young Afghan driver, Abdul al Hafetz. For
reasons of security Abdul was always patted down carefully when he came on
base, though he had worked for the Agency for over a year.

On the fourth of October, a month since his sister had been killed by a drone
strike on her wedding day, Abdul drove up to the gate of the base. He was
patted down. As always, nothing untoward was found. He walked into the main
building and blew up in a shattering explosion that left thirteen drone
operators dead.

None of the Americans in Afghanistan could think of a reason for this
senseless act of carnage. The depth of Islamic hatred of our freedoms was
simply incomprehensible.

Investigators wanted to know how he had smuggled the explosives into the
compound. There was not enough left of Abdul to answer the question. The blast
had been powerful. The volume of explosive necessary would have been far to
great to have slipped past a careful pat-down. The possibility was considered
that a drone-operator had mistaken the compound for a birthday celebration and
attacked it. This didnt make sense, though, because the roof had clearly
blown upward. The detonation had come from within.

The true explanation was chilling. In what was thought to be an al Quaeda safe
house in Kabul, there was found a manual explaining the mystery. An extremist
who hated our democracy could swallow a dozen balloons containing in aggregate
over three kilograms of pentaerythryitol tetranitrate, or PETN. A detonator
built into a watch would cause it to explode. In a sense, the new technique
should have been expected. Drug smugglers had long used the same means to get
drugs past customs.

Janet Napolitano rose to the occasion. She called a press conference and said,
these are difficult times and al Quaedas continuing assault on our way of
life makes sacrifices necessary. Starting today, all passengers will have
their stomachs pumped prior to boarding. This will include pilots and cabin
crew. We cannot let our democracy be destroyed by extremists.

Twenty-seven airliners that had flown to Europe refused to come back, and
overall air traffic dropped forty-six percent. Upon Napolitanos pro-active
announcement that automated rectal exams would be instituted to further
protect our freedoms, traffic fell another ten percent, except in San

Over the next two months, seven airlines declared bankruptcy and went into
chapter eleven. Most foreign airlines announced that they would no longer fly
to the United States. Boeing was ordered by TSA to retrofit automatic
wrist-restraints on existing aircraft, and Artful Devices, Inc. won a twelve
billion dollar contract for an integrated explosive-sniffer, puff-analyzer,
millimeter-wave panty-viewer, shoe-x-rayer, stomach pump, CAT-scanner and
nitrate-sniffing automated dildo. Our freedoms, at last, were safe.


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