Masked man reveals a lot about airport security
By MARILLA STEPHENSON
Wed, Nov 10 – 7:11 AM
Flying has become a chore.
We can’t take our water bottles on board, unless they were purchased after security checks.
Don’t dare leave that metal lipstick tube in your carry-on; it needs to be in the clear plastic bag with the miniscule bottles of eye drops and hand sanitizer.
Plan to tread shoeless across a mat upon which thousands of feet — many of them bare — have treaded before you.
And for heavens sake, don’t you dare make any audible comment that in any way could be interpreted as a threat. You might then be cheerfully asked to miss your plane while your luggage is ripped further apart.
It’s all for your own good. It’s how they keep you safe. Never mind how innocent any person might look, they could well be a terrorist in disguise.
And so we’ve all gone along with the hassles, the long lineups, the swabbing and belt-stripping and coin-dumping requirements of keeping us safe. Frankly, even in the wake of 9-11, the shoe bomber and all the rest, it reeks of overkill. Meanwhile, airport fees, airline ticket prices and myriad government security and border costs have soared to cover our high-tech, over-the-top security.
It would seem they must be looking in the wrong places.
Just in time for Halloween, along came the masked man on the Air Canada flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver — a wizened, wrinkled fellow who apparently underwent quite a transformation after the flight took off. The man, who is an apparently healthy 20 years old, went to the bathroom and removed his mask, then calmly returned to his seat.
It was only then that the flight crew alerted security in Vancouver. The man is in custody there and has applied for refugee status.
But wait. Despite the many photo images circulating on the Internet of just how dramatically effective this costume was, everybody wasn’t fooled.
As CNN first reported this week, a passenger on the flight says she spotted the mask well before the plane took off and alerted flight attendants to her observation while the plane was still on the tarmac.
Not just one flight attendant, but three. The first took no action, then a second took no action. The passenger then attempted to bring the matter to the attention of a third attendant, who she says suggested the man with the significantly wrinkled face and amazingly unwrinkled hands might suffer from a medical condition.
“I was thinking he was going to blow up the plane,” Nuray Kurtur-Balas told the news channel.
Air Canada has refused comment on the report, citing an internal investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, the man’s Vancouver-based lawyer is complaining about the Canadian Border Services before-and-after photos of the man that were leaked to CNN.
Lee Rankin says his client’s privacy has been violated and the elaborate mask is not that different from thousands of other concealing devices, such as wigs, used every year by people attempting to enter Canada illegally.
Rankin says Canadian officials are “playing dirty” and that “somebody’s gone out of their way to expose him and make an example of him.”
Are you kidding me? I have compassion for the plight of refugees fleeing desperate circumstances, but people who fly on airplanes are supposed to be screened to confirm their identities. It’s part of how all that top-of-the-line security is supposed to keep us safe.
Federal Security Minister Vic Toews didn’t find the situation so startling, initially noting that the alert on the masked man was not that different from many others that cross his desk. The minister went as far as to say the matter should not have made it into the public domain.
Really? If that’s the sort of security screening we’re paying for, we are clearly getting ripped off.
The less we know about these types of incidents, the more likely we are to continue lining up like docile sheep, peeling off our belts and dumping out our pockets.
Meanwhile, one row over, the real threat to our safety could be as plain as the nose on a silicone face.
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