Jewish World Review Sept. 4, 2002 / 27 Elul, 5762
Air marshals defend 'controlled scaring' policy
Marshals trained to be scariest people on plane, government says
Just days after an air marshal trained his gun on terrified passengers on Delta
Flight 442 from Atlanta to Philadelphia, the Transportation Security Agency defended
the move as part of the air marshals' policy of "controlled scaring."
"Under the policy known as controlled scaring, it is the air marshal's job to be the
most frightening person on board the plane," TSA spokesman Herbert McCormack
said in Washington today. "Pointing a gun at the passengers is consistent with that
"Controlled scaring" is a little-known policy of the air marshals program, and one
that is already stirring up its share of controversy -- particularly among passengers
who say that flying is scary enough without the air marshals acting like gun-happy
But the uncertainty and fear surrounding commercial aviation are precisely the
reasons why it is so important for the air marshal to behave in a frightening manner,
according to the TSA's McCormack.
"Before we instituted the policy of controlled scaring, passengers would board the
plane not knowing whom to be afraid of," Mr. McCormack said. "Now everyone
knows that the person he or she should be afraid of is the air marshal himself."
A full five weeks out of the six-week air marshal training program is devoted to
teaching the air marshal candidates to scare the crap out of passengers as
efficiently as possible, McCormack said.
The marshal candidates learn such skills as brandishing a gun, bulging one's eyes
out menacingly, and screaming, "Freeze, sucker!" at random passengers at the top
of one's lungs.
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JWR Contributor Andy Borowitz, a former president of the Harvard Lampoon, is a regular humor columnist for Newsweek.com, The New Yorker, The New York Times and TV Guide. Recognized by Esquire magazine as one of the most powerful producers in television, he was the creator and producer of the hit TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and producer of the Oscar-nominated film Pleasantville. He is the author, most recently, of "Trillionaire Next Door: The Greedy Investor's Guide to Day Trading" and "Rationalizations to Live By". Comments by clicking here. Visit his website by clicking here.
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© 2002, Andy Borowitz