Ed Driscoll

Dominate. Intimidate. Incriminate.

The Transportation Security Administration detained a US Marine last week…because they detected gunpowder on his boots on the flight that took him back into the world from Iraq:

The Transportation Security Administration bagged a terrorist in Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday, or so they thought. Daniel Brown’s name came up on their no-fly watchlist, so they dragged him into interrogation and grilled him, despite the protestations of Brown and his fellow travelers, who swore they could vouch for him.

The others in Brown’s party went on their Northwest Airlines flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul, where they waited on a bus at the airport. You see, the detained man was Staff Sergeant Daniel Brown, USMC Reserve, and he was traveling with the other members of his Marine Reserve Military Police unit, which was heading home to Minnesota from eight months of combat in Iraq. The Marines were in full uniform and all, including Brown, had travel orders and military identification cards.

After attempts to stonewall under claims of “security,” TSA spokesmen finally admitted that Staff Sergeant Daniel Brown was placed on the no-fly list, and ultimately detained, because they had detected gunpowder on his footgear — not on this flight, but on a prior flight, which earned Brown a permanent place on the TSA’s mysterious terrorist lists.

The footgear that had been exposed to gunpowder? Brown’s combat boots, and the occasion of that flight was after his return from his first combat tour in Iraq. Gee… a combat Marine in Al-Anbar Province being exposed to gunpowder.

Exposure to gunpowder isn’t something the TSA knows a lot about. Hey, who are you gonna believe, this here watchlist or your lyin’ eyes?

Ultimately, the TSA screeners figured out that Brown really was a Marine, and no threat to his fellow passengers, and let him board a later flight. When he deplaned at MSP, his unit’s bus was waiting — his fellow Marines in it.

Marine 1st Sgt. Drew Benson explained why. “We don’t leave anybody behind. We start together, and we finish together.” All 26 Marines waited for Brown — even though their families were waiting for them at a scheduled welcome-home bash at Fort Snelling.

Brown’s mother Terry was glad they did. “They all come back together… no matter what it takes and I think that’s very important,” she told WCCO-TV.

Frequent TSA critic Richard A. Altomare, Founder and Chairman of the Coalition for Luggage Security — and a former marine — said, “I’m proud that Sergeant Dan Brown’s Marine unit refused to report to their post until the ‘man left behind’ was permitted to get on a passenger plane. This TSA’s bloated bureaucracy with documented insensitive treatment of countless Americans really rings home a need to dismantle their growing airport agency before all American freedoms are lost — since now even the United States Marines can’t help us.”

Back in 2003, the Washington Times’ James Bovard explained the origins of the TSA’s informal motto:

In the wake of September 11, the federal mentality toward airline customers is best summarized by the informal motto posted at the headquarters of the TSA air marshal training center: “Dominate. Intimidate. Control.” But it takes more than browbeating average Americans to make air travel safe. Airline expert Michael Boyd aptly observed: “The TSA is a poorly focused, unaccountable Washington political bureaucracy geared to screen for objects, not for security threats.”

And too inept to distinguish a Marine from a terrorist. Maybe some of the seniors at UC Santa Cruz should apply there after graduation.

(Via Mark Steyn.)