Following my earlier essay on the secondary security interrogation, I thought to share this interrogation training real-world event. Airport security for the greater part is well-orchestrated and fairly tame provided that subjects don’t barge into interrogation (as so many spoiled Americans do) screaming:
“I have rights; I know my rights; I know the law — you don’t even know your own laws; I want to speak to your manager! I want to speak to the owner of South West Airlines right now — get him in here right now! Don’t touch me; you assaulted me! What’s your name and badge number? Do you even realize who I am? I work for the Governor’s Office and I promise every one of you will lose your jobs after this.”
I traveled to Jordan with my Delta Force squadron in years of yore, landing on a Jordanian Air Force Base in a C-5A heavy jet transport aircraft. In our time there, we conducted a tactical combat movement over land in our all-terrain vehicles with helicopter support. Our momentum carried us through some 422 miles of treacherous desert scape. Everything that was inclined to break broke. It was a very good week.
So it came to be that several of us were called back to Ft. Bragg immediately for a follow-on special mission of undisclosed nature. We were to travel commercial with another gun-slinger, our unit surgeon, and a mechanic.
The bug was put in our ear early on that airport security in Amsterdam was particularly stringent, so we were advised to mind our Ps and Qs. While I had no intention of being Bob Hope with the security personnel, my mind teemed with the ever-present sense of adventure and danger that we anticipated everywhere we went.
It was for sure living life on the edge!
There was no out-brief by our Operations Officer for our travel back, nothing beyond “just tell the truth and rely heavily on the printed copy of your mission orders and your military ID cards.” I was fine by that; no retarded false back-story to memorize.
There are several elements that are sure to raise a red flag in most airports. A big one is a single young female flying alone, one-way only, with no appreciable luggage. A woman of such profile should just as well report directly to airport secondary and start tap dancing.
Our travel profile loosely fit that: young men, traveling alone, one way, no real baggage to speak of. Our unit encouraged us to separate as much as practical on travel: no bunching up and dudeing around together while trying not to look like thugs. Yet, some guys were just uncomfortable traveling by themselves and migrated to each other.
I arrived at my check-in gate and sat at a cafe to collect atmospherics in the terminal since I was early. From where I sat across a large open floor I could see my gunslinger counterpart engaged in a heated argument with an irate security agent. My counterpart left the counter, looked around, spotted me at the cafe, and headed directly toward me in a quick step.
“Oh no,” I lamented, “don’t just come straight at me!” But he did and took a seat with me.
“Geo… things aren’t going well. They took the Doc and the grease monkey off somewhere. They know that there are five of us traveling to the same destination from the same military unit. And they know about you and are waiting for you to present yourself.” Oh God, was I going to have to “present” myself? I got sent for!
I did a slow clumsy walk to the counter where the security agent stood watching me with the direst expression he could possibly muster. One last look behind me revealed my bro being taken into a small kiosk with opaque windows, one that looked like it could fit only one person comfortably. In they went and the door was shut.
I presented the agent with my orders, ID card, boarding pass, and even my Maryland driver’s license. He rattled off questions in a loud stern voice, jamming his eyes into mine. I told him my true story in full after which he ended his bad-cop tirade with a final jab:
“You know, Sergeant George Hand… we, here at Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport, take our security business very very seriously” wagging his pointer finger at me like I was five.
“Yes, yes of course you do, sir… I respect and admire your dedication and expertise!”
And thaaat did it. I was in like Flynn after that last remark, one with just the right amount of suck-up-ed-ness to schmooze the agent into peace with words of iron.
The agent escorted me to the passengers’ final waiting room. We passed the little kiosk where I had last seen my bro being escorted. In that kiosk, my friends, was physical closeness and secondary interrogation to be had. It was a place nobody wanted to be.
“What about my colleague, will he get out in time to make his flight, Sir?”
“That, Sergeant George Hand, is entirely up to him.”
Sitting in the all-glass waiting room we had a good view of the kiosk. The Doc had told them he was a doctor because that’s what he was. Our mechanic told them he was a mechanic because that’s what he was, a mechanic.
A hand sporting a surgical glove opened the kiosk door inviting my bro to exit the kiosk. He was in an utterly disenchanted state. Barefoot with his shirt slovenly draped on and held together by the single button that he had managed to fast, one that he had missed by two button holes so it hung on him all too crooked.
He walked with an unusual gait. His belt was off and his trousers were desperately held up by a single hand. Under his other arm, he held his roller board, which was not latched, but rather bulging with all of his post-search items that had been thoroughly ransacked and then stuffed back into the case. It would have to be completely repacked. His gait I oddly did not trust…
He dropped himself and his belongings against the wall and proceeded to reassemble his person, catapulting as many unholy epithets as he possibly could out into the boarding terminal building. His painful stride subjected him to many glances and persistent stares.
We passed ourselves into the final waiting room with our other two compadres who were sufficiently schooled in worldly edicts so as not to say one damned word to him — though they were just dying to know what had happened.
AND HE WALKED A FUNNY WALK!
“I just want to get out of this phuq’n place.”
Patting him firmly several times on the back and shoulder, I replied: “Take the pain, brother… just, take
By Almighty God and with honor,