Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Perceived Danger

On her way back to LA, my daughter had a full body scan in the Tulsa Airport, with airport personnel in full view glaring at the screen (so much for the TSA being out of sight). I didn't think much of it at the time, but slowly it began to dawn on me: here we go again, post 9/11: we're scared to death.

Fear seems to be pervading everything.

These posters, announcing a proposed MTA tunnel through Mt. Washington, Highland Park and Glassell Park to complete the 710 freeway, are up everywhere. The project is impractical, costly and would never be built, but people in my Northeast neighborhood are proclaiming an immediate threat.

A few years ago, during the Bush years, the FBI showed up at my neighbors' home at 6 a.m., pulling them outside (in their pajamas) while a half dozen agents tore the house apart and confiscated their computers. My neighbors, J and C, wanted to know what they'd done, but the FBI refused to tell them. Afterward, during questioning—lasting five hours—they were told J's friend (X) had been accused of wrong doing, although they wouldn't say what. But X was a Kurd, like J, and like a good Kurd, J had welcomed X into his home as part of a long line of Kurds in LA who support one another. Because of their association, J had been implicated as well. During the interrogation, J repeatedly told the agents that Kurds weren't Arabs, a fact they had trouble keeping straight.

A few days later I got a call. It was from the FBI. They'd been tapping my neighbors' phone and found my number. They began by letting me know, not too subtly, they knew everything about me, including the activities of my daughter. They wanted information. Well, they came to the wrong stool pigeon. I reprimanded the agent (a woman) as though she were a naughty child, telling her I had only contempt for how they'd treated my neighbors—upstanding citizens. But here we are, almost a decade after 9/11, and the FBI and TSA are watching us again. This is what I'd tell them if given another chance: listen to Israeli Intelligence— focus on the "list" if you must (except for poor Mikey Hicks), use sniffing dogs and heat sensors (cheaper and more effective than the $190,000 body scanners), have interviews with shady characters, but leave my neighbors and my 18-yr-old daughter alone.

Stand With Haiti

1 comment: