Work Life Balance

Traveling Mother Suspected Of Terror On 9/11 Anniversary

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I’m a big fan of security when it comes to air travel. At the same time, I’m not a fan of the security theater we currently endure. Baby diapers are checked for explosives and we all have to take off our shoes so we can pretend that this somehow makes us safer. Meanwhile, TSA agents fail to find more than 60% of fake explosives during checkpoint security tests.

I bristle against the Freedom Fondles I have received while traveling with my children. And I think about what I would do if a government agent wanted to pat down the private parts of my little girls. I honestly don’t know how I’d handle that.

But mother Shoshana Hebshi had a much worse incident happen when she flew on September 11. She wrote about it in her blog. Basically there was an uneventful flight from Denver to Detroit except that, well, a passenger reported suspicious activity from three passengers and in response jets were scrambled to escort the plane and the three passengers were escorted off the plane when it landed. All rather dramatic. In the end, it turned out to be nothing. Hebshi, whose parents are Arab and Jewish, suspects that her ethnicity — and that of the two Indian men sitting next to her — were the cause of the suspicious reports.

She writes about what it was like to get taken off the plane and into custody:

As I sat and waited, quietly contemplating my situation, the other Indian man was getting questioned in the main room outside. I couldn’t see what was going on, but I could hear a bit. They asked him where he was from, did he have any family, where were his shoes. He talked quietly and agreeably. I wondered if he was as incensed as I was or if he had entered this country expecting harassment from the American authorities.

They took him to another room, and I heard an officer tell him to remove his clothes. He was going to be searched. I could not fully grasp what was happening. I stared at the yellow walls and listened to a few officers talk about the overtime they were racking up, and I decided that I hated country music. I hated speedboats and shitty beer in coozies and fat bellies and rednecks. I thought about Abu Ghraib and the horror to which those prisoners were exposed. I thought about my dad and his prescience. I was glad he wasn’t alive to know about what was happening to me. I thought about my kids, and what would have happened if they had been there when I got taken away. I contemplated never flying again. I thought about the incredible waste of taxpayer dollars in conducting an operation like this. I wondered what my rights were, if I had any at all. Mostly, I could not believe I was sitting in some jail cell in some cold, undisclosed building surrounded by “the authorities.”

I heard the officers discuss my impending strip search. They needed to bring in a female officer. At least they were following protocol, or something to that nature. Still, could this really be happening?

Certainly the Abu Ghraib reference is a bit much but imagine if this were you and you were traveling with your children. How livid would you be?