Another Peace Organizer Detained by Airport Cops

On July 28 I was returning home after two days of speaking in Louisville, Kentucky. While in the Louisville airport, after having just received my boarding pass, I got a call on my cell phone from a reporter with the Columbus Post-Dispatch (Ohio) who wanted my comments about the Global Network’s position on NASA’s “Project Prometheus”–the nuclear rocket to Mars.

The interview lasted 10 minutes at the most and in it I outlined these three key points:

1) The exponential escalation of launches of nuclear power into space dramatically escalates the chance of an accident

2) DoE has a long and sad track record of local contamination of workers and communities building bombs. Can we expect anything else as they now ramp up the labs to produce more plutonium for nuclear space missions?

3) NASA has announced that from now on all space missions will be “dual use”, meaning that each NASA mission will be both military and civilian. Thus the development of nuclear reactor technology for space missions will also become a military technology.

Immediately after finishing the interview I bought a newspaper and headed for the airport security screening line and my boarding gate. Just as I entered the line two policemen asked if I was BRUCE GAGNON. They then directed me to follow them to the other end of the airport and would only say that I had been overhead making dangerous statements.

Amazingly they knew my name and had a copy of my boarding pass. All of this within 12 minutes after checking in at the airport.

As we walked to their office I racked my brain to understand what I might have said and to whom! Once inside the police inner sanctum I was questioned by three cops who wanted by name, my ID, my reason for being in Louisville, where I had spoken, to whom had I spoken.

Then they informed me that I had been overheard talking about bombs and contamination.

They searched by bag and one officer found my copy of the constitution and asked if I always carried it with me. I told him “Yes, you never know when you might need it.”

It took me a moment to realize that someone must have heard my statements to the reporter about the nuclear rocket. So I explained the situation to them. Luckily I had remembered the name of the reporter and I gave that to them as well. One of the cops then called information and got the number for the Columbus newspaper and called the reporter. He verified that I had just spoken to him about bombs and contamination and suggested they let me go.

But the cops were not done.

They then ran a national ID check on me to make sure I was not on some terrorist wanted list. Then they let me go and I headed for my gate.

I still made my plane but as I was boarding one of the cops stood by the door at the gate to make sure I got on the plane. (Must have thought I’d slip out the back way or something.)

The remarkable thing to me is just how paranoid everyone has become that people are now reporting anyone that says any “key” word in airports, or probably anywhere else. I told the cops that I thought potential terrorists were not likely to stand in the middle of an airport and talk on the phone about bombs and contamination.

My trip to Louisville was sponsored by the local Fellowship of Reconciliation chapter. On Sunday, July 27 (my birthday) I spoke at the Central Presbyterian Church about the militarization of space and then on Monday at noon a different group heard me talk about the “Price of Endless War” at a local restaurant. Veteran activist Jean Edwards was the leading organizer of the trip and I stayed in the home of retired Presbyterian minister David Bos.

Just the week before David Bos has arranged for me to fly to Daytona Beach, Florida to deliver two workshops at the annual conference of the National Association of Ecumenical & Interreligious Staff. This was an important opportunity to present our message to religious leaders from throughout the nation.

One person who attended one of my workshops, and added much to it, was former Congressman Bob Edgar, now the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches.

My Louisville airport experience underscored to me the dangers we face in our nation today. While we all are concerned about terrorist attacks, I am frankly much more concerned about the loss of our civil liberties in the name of protecting us from terrorism.

The constitution is a very fragile document. It is something we should all carry with us and fight to hold onto.

Bruce K. Gagnon is coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space based in Brunswick, ME. He can be reached at: globalnet@mindspring.com


More articles by:

Bruce K. Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space based in Brunswick, Maine.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes