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Subject:  Re: My TSA horror story Date:  7/5/2012  12:30 AM
Author:  salaryguru Number:  43908 of 117514

In 1968, after graduating from UCLA, a buddy and I drove to Mexico for a surfing adventure. We crossed the border in Nogales and about 10 miles into Mexico we were pulled over by the police. We asked what was the problem, but the would not say and just kept us waiting in the 110F sun. We knew they wanted money, but we were not not eager to give them any. Finally we gave them $10 each and they let us go. The fear of being in a Mexican jail made it easy to give them the money.

In the 80's and 90's I spent quite a bit of time crossing back and forth into Mexico - also traveling to South America. Based on my experience, the Mexican police would probably have sent you on your way if you simply tipped them each $1 and thanked them for doing a good job protecting you.

I had government access for my work on spy satellites at the time. I found that when I was crossing into Mexico, simply placing a $1 bill in my passport would move me to the head of the line and get me on my way. I didn't hide it and when the Security officer would take it and slide it into his desk, I would thank him. I always looked at it as a $1 fee to enter Mexico on the fast track. Once I crossed with a friend who had never been to Mexico before. I explained that he should put a $1 bill in his passport and thank the officer for his service. My friend got all self-righteous and said he wasn't about to offer a bribe to cross into Mexico. We ended up waiting about an hour to get cleared. Other than that one time, I never had any problems with police in Mexico. Once, I had traveled a long way to get to a remote archaeology site and just short of the site I got to a river where the bridge had washed out. I couldn't cross into the town on the other side where I knew I could get gas. I had to head back and was running very short on gas when I came to a police check point (it was marijuana harvest season). I explained my problem to the police and they stopped the next car and talked the guy into siphoning a gallon of gas from his car and selling it to me so I wouldn't have any problems. I left all the police officers a cold drink and paid the guy who sold me the gas $10. Everyone was happy and we all smiled and waived and moved on.

On the other hand, whenever I crossed back into the US back then, I got a major ration of rudeness from US boarder agents. I had a Chevy Blazer that was taken apart and re-assembled at the boarder check point at least a dozen times. That probably had a lot to do with my government access level at the time, but they still didn't have to be rude about it.

I have also traveled quite a bit in Egypt, Israel and India with nothing but positive police experience. The last trip I took to Egypt I spent a couple of weeks visiting archaeology sites between Cairo and Luxor - where it was required that I have a police/military escort with me at all times. Even with the serious language barrier, I enjoyed a very congenial relationship with my escorts. I was in India during the Mumbai attacks several years ago. Whenever I was out in public, the police were very anxious to make sure I understood their desire to protect and serve me. It was almost embarrassing. I spent several weeks in the Palestinian Quarter of Jerusalem and traveled around Israel quite a bit. The police there were certainly no-nonsense types, but I never had a problem. They were clear about what you could and could not do. I obeyed the rules. And they were happy.

I can't really talk about China. I spent some time in Hong Kong and in Macau, but have never been to the mainland. I might get to Bejing next year.

But here in the US I have been abused by blowhard police officers with more testosterone than brains on many occasions over a period of several decades - not because I've broken any laws or shown any disrespect - but simply because they can do it. My experience is that police in the US tend to be insecure types who want to wield power. There is something about the way police are recruited that favors the asshats. Our police departments are filled with them and those that are there to actually protect and serve are mostly outsiders. We see the stories of police abuse and corruption in our newspapers almost weekly. We see the stories in our literature, movies and TV programming. Even in stories that celebrate police we see the police lie to citizens to get what they want, make arrests of innocent people and never acknowledge how unfair that is when they have to release them a few days later, break laws because they're sure they know whose guilty, etc. Police officers have a code that they never expose the corruption or abuse of fellow officers. They hate IA and see it as "the enemy". We live in a very corrupt police state that has been made far worse since 9/11. Americans may want to believe that it's worse in places like Mexico or Egypt or India or Israel, but it doesn't seem that way to me.
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