Nathaniel Heatwole Nathaniel Heatwole, desperado

Heatwole feels the heat

Injustice in the making

The full force of the US government's hammer of justice is being brought down on Nathaniel Heatwole. And what has he done? According to the FBI affidavit (PDF), Heatwole is charged with violating Title 49, US Code Section 46505(b)(1) for carrying onto an aircraft "a concealed dangerous weapon that is or would be accessible to the individual in flight."

Poor Nathaniel's real crime is that he exposed the airline security system for the farce that it is. And for that he will be punished if John Ashcroft has anything to say about it.

Adding insult to injury, young Nat sent an email to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) telling them exactly what, when, where, and why he had taken these actions. He even gave them his phone number! All this helpful information notwithstanding, the bags of contraband weren't found for nearly five weeks.

According to the NY Times, citing a TSA spokesperson, Nat's email to the TSA was not flagged because he did not make an overt threat to do harm. The FBI affidavit quotes from Nat's email:

On Friday, September 12, 2003, two ash-colored box cutters, each complete with blade, approximately 10-12oz of a simulated plastic explosive (reddish modeling clay)....
the box cutter broohaha

The TSA spokesperson says that now they will look for words or phrases that might fall outside the definition of overt threat. Apparently "box cutters" and "plastic explosive" are too subtle for the bright folks at TSA.

Just as the government went after Martha Stewart because her case is easy, the government will jump all over Heatwole because he made it easy for them — he told them what he did, he used his own name, and he even signed the notes he left with the evidence on the planes.

It would be far more constructive in furtherance of "our security" if folks would focus on some other questions:

To Southwest Airlines
How is it that the plastic bags "left in the compartment directly below the sink in the rear lavatory of the aircraft" (Heatwole's email) were not discovered for over a month? Don't you ever clean? [Never mind, we know the answer to that.]
To the Raleigh-Durham and Baltimore-Washington airports
How did this kid get past your metal detectors and security screeners?
To the judge
Aren't you ashamed of yourself?
To the TSA
What kind of idiots do you have working at the contact center, anyway?
To W
Why haven't you fired TSA chief James Loy?
To Congress
How much more money are you going to waste on the boondoggle that is the TSA? Why should we pay for people to inspect grandmother's tennis shoes when a 20-year old kid can walk through security checkpoints in two different airports with packages of box cutters and not be detected?
To the American people
What's it going to take for you to realize Emperor W has no clothes?