December 12, 2001
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In his column on the op-ed page of today's New York Times, Thomas Friedman writes a memo from President Bush to Saudi Arabia's minister of Islamic affairs. "What encourages us is that you seem to understand that and are taking steps to curtail incitement in your mosques and media," Mr. Friedman writes.
Funny how these Times columnists get all worked up over Attorney General Ashcroft's supposed violations of civil liberties in America, but at the same time they are advocating "taking steps" to curtail the freedoms of press, speech and religion in other countries. Mr. Friedman's suggestion might make sense in the short-term context of Saudi Arabia's state-controlled press and broadcast outlets, but not in the context of the march of freedom.
Even in the short-term context, there isn't much to suggest that America should be encouraged that the Saudis "understand" or are "taking steps" to curtail incitement. Consider this December 7, 2001, report by Matthew Kalman in Canada's National Post: "A major Arabic TV channel has produced a 30-part dramatization of the notorious anti-Semitic 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' to be broadcast throughout the Arab world as a special program for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. 'Horseman Without a Horse' is a multi-million-dollar production starring leading Egyptian actor Muhammad Subhi in 14 different roles with a large international cast from Egypt, Syria and France. The program was made by Arab Radio and Television (ART) a popular satellite channel based in Jedda, Saudi Arabia. Roz Al-Youssuf, an Egyptian weekly, said in an admiring preview that the series successfully debunks Jewish claims that the Protocols -- the supposed minutes of the Jewish clique that controls the world -- were a forgery invented by anti-Semitic propagandists in Tsarist Russia. 'For the first time, the series' writer courageously tackles the 24 Protocols of the Elders of Zion, revealing them and clarifying that they are the central line that still, to this very day, dominates Israel's policy, political aspirations and racism,' the paper reported."
Hard to see how Mr. Friedman, speaking in the voice of President Bush, can say that he is "encouraged" by such developments in Jedda.
News Article: Original, non-Times-related news article: Where Do All the Knives Go?
By BENJAMIN SMITH
First, into a tangle of jurisdictions. Those baggage screeners -- many of whom will soon become Federal employees -- work under guidelines set by the Federal Aviation Administration. But the security checkpoints are run by individual airlines, which can hire private companies to inspect baggage.
The most recent FAA regulations prohibit knives of any length, along with box cutters, ice picks, and scissors. That's been bad for some businesses. Swiss Army Brands took a particular hit from losing its place at duty-free airport shops, and a spokesman for Buck Knives, Tom Ables, said "all the knife people we talk to say it's been soft" since September 11. Some retailers, though, say they've had a boost from customers coming in to replace confiscated knives: Paragon Sports in Manhattan has sold dozens that way, knife counter saleswoman Veronica Chamlee said.
FAA rules bar sharp objects on planes, but they don't say where to put them once they've been confiscated. So airlines can do "whatever they want" with the harvest of Swiss Army Knives and other, potentially valuable, objects, an FAA spokeswoman, Alison Duquette, said.
A United Airlines spokesperson refused to discuss the airline's policy on security grounds, but other airlines contacted by Smartertimes referred calls to their private security companies. One of the biggest of those is Argenbright Security, which has staff at 45 airports and which says it has confiscated more than 20,000 pounds of banned items since September 11.
Contraband is "disposed of by local law enforcement," Argenbright spokeswoman Sara Jackson said. Confiscated objects, she said, are "always destroyed."
And in much of the country, that appears to be how it works. At some Florida airports, sheriffs departments around the state store contraband temporarily in their evidence rooms, then incinerate it, according to press reports. In San Antonio, Texas, last month, airport police reported that they were storing 10 boxes and three garbage bags full of confiscated objects.
Not so in New York. The relevant law enforcement authority in the case of John F. Kennedy International, La Guardia, and Newark International airports is the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department. And "Port Authority does not have anything to do" with "the disposition of anything that's seized at checkpoints," Port Authority spokesman Pasquale DiFulco said.
Although spokespersons for government agencies, airlines, and security services said they remain uncertain about the knives' final destination, a number of airport employees on the ground had a simple answer.
"Security takes it and throws it away," a Continental Airlines baggage service worker at JFK, Julia Barcia, said. A baggage service worker at La Guardia, who gave his name only as Jim, said the knives are "tossed into the trash." And a security worker at JFK, Justin, said "we separate it and put it in the proper garbage cans."
And then? Well, the Port Authority didn't respond to an inquiry about who handles their trash. And three Queens pawnbrokers told Smartertimes they haven't noticed a sudden influx of knives onto the local market. So those knives may still be out there, somewhere.
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