Going too far?

On Nov. 1, Nancy Oden, an organic farmer, drove 100 miles from Jonesboro, Maine to the Bangor airport. A member of the National Coordinating Committee of the Green Party USA, she was going to an important committee meeting in Chicago.

At the ticket window she learned that her bags would be searched. She passed through the scanning machines, but in the boarding area a search of her two small bags by national guardsmen led to an altercation. Because of alleged non-cooperation with a search, she was prevented from boarding any airplane leaving Bangor that day.

Two days later the Bangor Daily News reported on the story. Picked up by the Associated Press, it became national news. The Green Party USA denounced the National Guard action as an “attack on the right of association of an opposition political party.” Other left groups joined in. Then Oden’s story seemed to disappear.

Oden provided further details about the airport incident during the interview and in a description found on the Green Party USA web site. They lead to some conclusions:

• The military is in charge. They were the ones who searched her bags, passed a metal detecting device over her body, and told the airport manager to keep her off airplanes for the rest of the day.

• All that power leads to bullying. During the search a guardsman twice grabbed her arm (Oden had reached out to help with a zipper), delivered an accusatory pro-war lecture, and stood her up with arms outstretched in the middle of the waiting room to perform the metal detecting search.

• There is a pattern. A fellow committee member heading for California at the conclusion of the Chicago meeting was subjected to an embarrassing body search and to a search of his bag so prolonged that he missed his flight.

Infirm, he asked for a wheelchair both in Chicago and later on in San Francisco – requests denied! Missing his connecting flight, he had to argue for over two hours for hotel accommodations. He and Oden were the only committee members who had traveled to Chicago by air.

On the Green Party USA web site, Oden stated: “So long as the military are in charge of civilian affairs, we are not free. We will not accept killing democracy in order to save it. We do not want corporations with their only interest in the next quarter profits running the world.”

W.T. Whitney is a reader in Maine.