November 18, 2001
So Much For
Military Takeover Of
As we all now know, military presence is to
dominate all airports throughout the country "for our safety and security," or
at least that is what we are told.
Below is an account of the result of military
occupation of at the airport. We need to point out that J.A.I.L. neither
supports or opposes any political party. This account is one of a Green
Party leader. We ask that you read this account for its practical lesson of
military occupation, and not as a promotional of the party of the
writer. -Ron Branson
My Day At the
By Nancy Oden
On Thursday, November 1, 2001, I
left my farmhouse on the North Coast of Maine, where I'm an organic grower, and
headed for the Bangor International Airport in Bangor, Maine. I was dressed
conservatively in a
long, brown skirt with a matching jacket and turtleneck
sweater, no jewelry, no buttons or other political indications attached, looking
very like other women my age in this part of the world.
I am a relatively
well known environmental, social, and political activist who has run for public
office. It should be noted that, while I've been an activist for over thirty
years, I've never been arrested, nor has there been anything in my life that
would signal I meant harm to anyone.
Also, this was the third time this
year I had traveled out of (or attempted to, in this case) Bangor Airport on
American Airlines using an e-ticket purchased from Priceline.com bought weeks
before with my own credit
card. They had no reason for profiling and
singling me out. It had to have been because of my political views which, of
course, is not a good reason (see U.S. Constitution's first Ten Amendments,
otherwise known as the Bill of Rights).
I was headed for Chicago for a
Green Party USA National Coordinating
Committee meeting, where I was to
speak the next night ....
I arrived at the Bangor Airport the
now-requisite two hours ahead of the flight and walked in to the airport to the
sight of a couple of dozen
National Guard troops carrying machine guns in
their hands wandering around the lobby. I walked down to the American Airlines
ticket counter, where there were no other passengers, and told the airlines
ticket agent my name. I was holding out my picture ID and the printed itinerary
they told us to bring, but he barely glanced at them. I remember thinking, "Does
he have a picture of me under that counter? Why didn't he look at my ID?"
The ticket agent spent an inordinate amount of time on his computer,
then finally produced a boarding pass with a large "S" written on it. I
asked him what that meant, and he said I had been picked to have my bags
searched. Well, one expects that now, so I said, "Oh, that's okay." But I had a
feeling there was more. .... Then to the x-ray for my bags and me.
.... Neither my bags nor I set off any
beeps in the machinery so we walked right through to the boarding area. Here I
sat down with the other
passengers. There was one National Guard soldier in
the boarding area; he was a short man with a black eye wearing camo gear and
carrying a machine gun.
Soon after I sat down, the National Guardsman
looked at the dozen or so passengers, his eyes stopping at me and he yelled,
"Bring those bags over here!" Since he didn't call my name, how did he know
which person was me, since I did not look appreciably different from the
When I didn't move fast enough, he yelled again, "Hurry up! Move!
Bring those bags up here!" This did not make me move faster. By now people were
beginning to stare at me as if I might possibly be someone bent on doing
I set my two smallish bags on the table where two women
were waiting to search my bags. As one of them had trouble with a zipper on my
older bag, I said, "Oh, that zipper is not right, here, let me open it for you,"
and I reached over the table to undo the zipper. Immediately, the soldier yelled
out, "Get your hands away from there!" By now the other passengers were getting
nervous, of course.
He was standing at the end of the table with the
women on one side looking in my bags and me standing on the other side of
the table. I turned to face him, which put my back towards everyone else, and he
grabbed my left arm and began loudly spouting pro-war nonsense into my face.
"Don't you understand we have to get them before they get us? Don't you
understand what happened September 11?" and so on.
I immediately pulled
my arm away from him and said, "Do not touch me.
You cannot do that," and
stepped back a foot or so, saying that I didn't want to hear his views on why he
thought we should kill starving, helpless people in Afghanistan.
grabbed for me again. I stepped back further stating emphatically, "Do Not Touch
Me," and further emphasizing that I did not want to listen to his views on the
war. He was about to leave his position and come after me again, but I saw the
senior security man who is usually there shake his head "No" at the soldier, who
then backed off, but he was angry that I would not submit to his holding me
while he forced his views on me.
I turned and there just a couple of
inches away was the man with the
metal-detecting wand. I stepped back a foot
or two so he wasn't right up
against me, and he did the wand thing. I was
the only one whose bags were searched. For a woman of a certain age such as
myself to stand there with arms outstretched while a man skimmed my body with a
device was very embarrassing and demeaning. .... While he was doing the wand
thing, I heard the soldier, who was behind me, say, "Don't let her on the
plane." I thought he was talking to himself.
Then they were done with the
searching, and I walked the three feet to
the boarding gate. The American
Airlines agent said, "You can't get on the plane." I asked why. He replied,
"Because he [indicating the soldier] says you didn't cooperate with the search."
I said, "But you were standing here the whole time. Didn't you see him grab my
arm and talk loudly into my face?" He said he couldn't see that because my back
was to the people, that he only saw me back off.
I then told the
American Airlines agent that I needed to get to Chicago
and stated what I
had to do there. The American Airlines agent then said,
probably so the guardsman soldier couldn't hear, "We'll put
you on the four
o'clock plane; that's the last one out today that you can go through Boston and
still get to Chicago tonight." I replied, "Fine, let's
just do this. I don't
care if I'm late so long as I get there."
Unfortunately, the Guardsman
overheard, and he wasn't done with me.
Clearly, this non-subservient female
had to be punished for not being
sufficiently obsequious. He saw me picking
up my bags to go out into the lobby and wait for the 4 o'clock plane, and yelled
(that seemed to be his
only means of communication), "Come With Me!" I
asked, "Why? Where are we going?" He replied, louder, "Come With Me!"
few people to whom I've told this insist the government/military is
to "criminalize" me and other political activists who don't have
records. .... If they then get convicted of a
felony, they've go to prison and probably a few years of parole when one's
rights are mostly non-existent, and draconian restrictions are put upon one's
activities. Convicted felons lose a lot of rights in this country: their travel
is henceforth limited, in some states they can't vote, own a gun, and various
Under the circumstances, and because I had a few hours
o'clock anyway, it seemed best to go with the guardsman. The
circumstances being that each individual soldier/national guardsman seems to be
The Law unto themselves. Each of them makes it up as they go along, punishing
people who don't hop to. ....
He took me to the entrance area, apart from
anyone else. Then he ordered, loudly, "Sit Down!" I gave him a look and then
sat. The soldier
found the airport policeman and told him to stay with me.
Upon reflection, I probably wasn't free to leave, but I thought I was waiting
for the next plane so just stayed there.
The Airport policeman was a
pleasant local man and we talked about what had just happened as well as people
we knew, etc. Within minutes I looked up to see 5-6 National Guardsmen in their
camo gear all carrying machine guns marching in a sort of formation towards me.
I was sitting down quietly talking with the policeman. The situation looked like
a bad movie.
It occurred to me that this is how people get "disappeared,"
happened to over 1,200 Americans so far since September 11. We
used to hear about this only in repressive military regimes in other places
(usually bolstered by our tax dollars). I'm sure they were ready to arrest me
for allegedly "not cooperating with a security search," with which I had,
All of a sudden the ludicrousness of the situation
struck me. There I am, sitting down with my bags, a woman clearly not a physical
this phalanx of soldiers in formation descends upon me ready to
arrest me for something I did not do. I gave a little laugh and said to the lead
man, "What, all this, just for me?" Then, I asked, "What's this really about?
What's going on here?"
He replied, "We understand you didn't cooperate
with a security search." I said, "That's ridiculous. They searched my bags and
they did the wand search. The only problem was your man here [I indicated the
short guy with the black eye] grabbing my arm and spouting pro-war views loudly
in my face." The lead soldier (I don't know his rank) said, astonishingly, "He
told me he only hit your arm."
I looked at the lead soldier wide-eyed
with a few unbidden (certainly
unwanted when I'm trying to look fierce)
tears in my eyes, and asked, "Even if that's all he had done, would that be
okay?" I think he then realized the guardsman had been way out of line and said,
"Wait here." They left, and the policeman stayed with me. I don't really think I
was free to go, although I had not been arrested.
I found out later they
had gone upstairs and told the Bangor Airport
manager to tell all airlines
in the Airport not to allow me to fly out of
Bangor that day, and possibly
more than just that one day. Since the military are in charge of our airports
and they can override civilians in charge, this was made to happen.
to be punished for the crime of questioning their authority,
the guardsman to hold my arm and force me to listen to his
Every airline in the Bangor Airport was given my name and told
that I did not cooperate with a security search. Not cooperating with a security
search at an airport is a federal crime. If, indeed, I had not cooperated,
they would have arrested me right then and there. But I had been searched so
they couldn't say that.
However, now I have to wonder if every airline in
the world doesn't have me in their computer as a person who didn't cooperate
with the security
search, which means they can deny me passage in their
airplanes. We will find out as time goes on.
They told the policeman this
news and had him tell me that I wouldn't
be allowed to fly out of Bangor
that day. So I said I had to go American
Airlines and get my money back. The
policeman came with me.
The same AA clerk was at the counter. He stepped
outside the counter to converse with the policeman and me. He confirmed that
they had been told not to allow me to fly out of Bangor that day. I asked him
about the next day and he said he didn't know. This is not a small matter for me
since the Bangor Airport is 100 miles from where I live.
The AA clerk
then suggested I drive to Boston (5-1/2 hour drive) and
fly out of there.
There were several problems with that, I told him. First,
my old car barely
made it the 100 miles to the Bangor Airport and might not make it to Boston or
back again. Then there were the parking fees in Boston as well as the fact that
I might not be allowed to fly out of there or might not be able to get a seat
once I got there. Also, if they would not honor my now-expired ticket, I'd have
to pay full fare, which I couldn't afford. Not a serious option.
asked the American Airlines clerk for my money back so I might
alternative means of transport. He said he couldn't refund my money. I asked him
why and he said, "It's a non-refundable ticket." ....
Then the policeman, half apologetically, told me
I'd been banned from
the Airport for that day, and that he had to escort me
out. I told him I
understood that he was under the military's rule, and that
I would call it
walking me to the door, rather than escorting me out
of the Airport. We
walked to the exit. I thanked him for being kind and
considerate, which he had been, and left with the sinking feeling that something
bad is happening to our country. And this is how it begins. ....
What is interesting
here is that Constitutionally, military power must be subject
to civil powers. Our Founding Fathers purposed this to avert a military
takeover of civil government.
repeatedly emphasized that a military police state is impossible in the
presence of an accountable judiciary, for its promotion can only advance by the
judiciary either endorsing the such conduct, or by turning their head the
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