Michael's Dispatches

Note from a Wise Man

07 January 2013

A note appeared on a private message board.  This private group includes many current and former generals, and just about anyone you see on television or in books as a national security specialist, ranging from CIA to all the top war correspondents, special operations types galore, and high-level policy makers.  There is significant education value in just reading their traffic.

A few days back, retired Marine and 3-star General Mick Trainor left this note.  I asked LTG (ret.) Trainor for permission to publish on my website, and he agreed.

Now for the show:

It’s Who You Know That Counts
By Mick Trainor

The TSA agent walked down the line of Christmas travelers awaiting screening at Dulles airport. He ran a swab over the palm of randomly selected individuals. I was one of them. As I hoisted my luggage onto the surveillance conveyor another agent asked me to step aside while a third agent abruptly commandeered my travel suitcase.

“Did you use hand cream this morning?”

“Yes,” I replied, “Why do you ask?”

“Because there is a trace of nitrate on your hands. That is not uncommon with some hand lotions. Nitrate is an element of explosives.”

“OK,”.I thought. “I have soft hands, but not a bomb.” Notwithstanding such logic, I was informed that I would have to have a full body search. With that two agents escorted me to a private room while other agents began to tear apart my luggage.

“Is this really necessary?” I enquired. “I’m an eighty four year old, native born American citizen who spent forty years in the Marines and fought in two wars and retired as a general.”

“Oh, you were a Marine.” said one agent. “My father-in-law is a retired Marine colonel of about your vintage. His name is Webster. Did you know him?”

“I knew a Charlie Webster, who went as ‘Chuck.’ We went through Quantico together as new lieutenants.”

“That’s him.” replied my interrogator ….. as he proceeded with the full body search.

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