Jeff Ackerman: Traveling moms get a break on breast milk
Lord knows, I try to keep a straight face when I read this stuff about keeping us safe from terrorism. I saw what they did to the World Trade Center buildings, and terrorism is no joke.
But here we sit, almost six years later, and the government agency we have entrusted to make sure the bad guys never crash another passenger jet into another tall building spent probably the past month or two debating the dangers of breast milk.
That’s right, the same milk most of us wish we still had during those days when life makes you want to shout, “Mommy!”
Late last week the Transportation Security Administration said it will allow mothers to bring their breast milk onto a passenger jet with or without a child and, I suppose, inside or outside of the breast.
“Why is breast milk not a threat?” asks the federal agency in a press release issued July 20. “Breast milk is a medical necessity, and it is being classified as such,” answers the agency to its own question. “But it must be declared at the checkpoint.”
The government actually pays someone to write this stuff.
“Excuse me, lady,” the checkpoint checker will now ask as you pass through security on your way to Disneyland. “Do you have any breast milk to declare today?”
“I don’t think so,” you’ll answer, really not certain what he means by the question. “I had a milkshake earlier, but they told me I couldn’t bring it on the plane.”
“They were correct,” the TSA agent will reply. “Breast milk is much less dangerous than a milkshake, so if you had some of that, I’d let you take it with you.”
“What if I had a breast milkshake?” I’d probably ask, only because I am a smartass who likes to see what kind of people they are hiring for TSA duty these days. At that point, the TSA agent would probably send me over to the corner where I’d be met by a large TSA agent wearing rubber gloves.
“Do passengers carrying breast milk need to taste it to prove it is not a liquid explosive?” continues the press release. I kid you not. That’s what the press release actually states.
“No. We will not ask the traveler to taste breast milk,” answers the press release to its own stupid question.
Can you imagine?
“Lady. Could you please open up the container of breast milk for me and start chugging?”
“But it’s for my baby, and he needs every drop!” you cry.
“I don’t make the rules, lady,” the TSA agent counters. “You can either drink the breast milk, or I’ll have to confiscate it and have some later with my doughnut.”
“How do you ensure liquid explosives disguised as breast milk or medication are not brought through the checkpoint?” continues the government press release.
“Since September 2006, certain liquid medications have been permitted at the checkpoint as long as they are declared to security officers and are subject to
additional screening,” they answer.
In other words, if you are wearing a black trench coat, a beard down to your zipper, are a Middle Eastern male 25-35 years old and traveling alone, they will probably make you drink the breast milk. Unless an ACLU lawyer is traveling with you, of course.
The TSA brain trust also decided to lift its ban on common cigarette lighters.
“First and foremost, lighters no longer pose a significant threat,” according to the press release. They determined this after confiscating more than 11 million lighters nationwide last year, enough to get us through 200 Rolling Stones concerts. They didn’t say why the lighters no longer pose a threat. Perhaps their contract with BIC expired. “OK … we’ll sell the lighters and you confiscate them at the airport so they’ll have to buy another one. We’ll split the profits 50-50.”
According to TSA statistics, there were 1.6 million knives and blades confiscated at airport checkpoints last year. I don’t know how many of those were actually fingernail clippers, but you’d have to be a complete moron to try to get on an airplane with a knife today. There were also 74,665 of what officials referred to in the chart as “dangerous items” confiscated last year. A knife is apparently not classified as a dangerous weapon. Neither are “clubs or bats.” There is a separate category for clubs and bats, as well, and there were 12,295 of them confiscated last year.
While the TSA has been spending millions and millions of dollars screening airport checkpoints, would-be terrorists have been vacationing down in Mexico, waiting to drive into the United States in a 1957 Ford pickup truck and disguised as mariachi players. Others have been crossing into the U.S. from Canada, hiding inside semis filled with wood pulp bound for tabloid paper mills in Washington state.
Al-Qaida, I’ll bet, is way past the breast-milk-on-an-airplane plot. While we have been occupied with milk, shoes and shampoo, our enemies (and … yes … we have a few) have probably been planning something we are not expecting.
Until then, it’s nice to know moms will be free to feed their babies.
Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.
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