One of the grotesque aspects of the war on terror is that quite a few Americans don't seem to realize who has their interests at heart, and who doesn't. For example:
Last Thursday, September 27, 2007, over two hundred soldiers and United States Marines, bound for Hawaii after a tour of duty in Iraq, landed in New York City. They passed through customs and security screening at JFK International Airport. They had already cleared security once before, in Germany.
Then, they proceeded to Oakland International Airport, a stopover on their way to their base in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The authorities at Oakland, leaning that over two hundred big, rough, people with guns were coming, had the charter plane stop 400 yards short of the terminal. The soldiers and Marines were told to get out of the plane, and stay on the grass between an active runway and a taxi ramp. There the people who have been defending America waited.
Over two hundred U.S. soldiers and Marines, following orders and staying on the grass.
Not allowed to go into the terminal.
Somewhat more to the point, not allowed to use the terminal's restrooms.
For about two hours.
They're U.S. military. They know how to follow orders. But this time, they didn't like it. As one Marine put it, in an email, "If felt like being spit on. Every Marine and soldier felt the message loud and clear. 'YOU ARE NOT WELCOME IN OAKLAND!'"
Now that Oakland International's little oopsie is an understated news item, the Oakland authorities are blaming the TSA and the charter company used by the soldiers and Marines. The TSA, at least, is disputing their claim.
Although there were weapons on the plane, "There was no ammunition on the plane and the bolts of the rifles had been removed."
Which brings up interesting points.
- Do the people at Oakland realize that the United States Marines and other branches of the U.S. military are on their side?
- Assuming that whoever is running Oakland International thought there was live ammunition on the plane, and that the passengers were hostile, did they honestly believe they could have stopped an armed force which included U.S. Marines, after that force had established a beachhead only 400 yards from the terminal? Granted, there's negligible cover out there, but these are U.S. soldiers and Marines.
Particularly since this isn't the first time it's happened. Oakland wouldn't let Marines in the terminal, back in 2006.
This could be some sort of honest, if stupid, mix-up. But I doubt it.
Granted, this seems to be a case of the TSA and two hundred soldiers and Marines saying one thing, and whoever runs Oakland International saying another.
However, if forced to choose, I'm less likely to take the word of bureaucrats being important a few miles south of Berkeley: and more likely to take the word of a United States Marine.
"American Marines & Soldiers Returning from Iraq Denied Entry to Oakland Airport Terminal"
Letter from two Congressmen, and an email from a Marine, to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation