How did you spend your September 11th? At a memorial service for friends or family? Watching football, or the president? Cooking out?
A handful of fighter pilots were escorting some commercial airliners. Six people on two different 9-11 flights were detained by the Transportation Security Administration for questioning based on witness reports of suspicious behavior. A woman from Ohio was strip-searched.
Their “suspicious behavior”? Appearing to be of Middle Eastern birth while using the restroom on the plane.
And it gets worse than that. Frontier Airlines employees say they don't even know why the woman was detained, much less strip-searched. They say they only, um, fingered the men she was sitting with, men she said she didn't even know.
Shoshana Hebshi, who describes herself as half-Arab and half-Jewish, wasn't even one of the people suspected by the passengers and workers on Frontier Airlines Flight 623. But according to Frontier staff, the TSA agents and airport police officers who boarded the plane couldn't have known that because they didn't even ask. They just grabbed who they thought were the offending parties and yanked them off the plane in cuffs.
“There was no profiling of any kind by any crew member associated with this incident other than that of unusual and suspicious behavior,” said Frontier Airlines spokesman Peter Kowalchuk. “It is unusual for people to spend 10 to 20 minutes in the small lavatories on our Airbus aircraft. When that happens, it raises suspicion. It did in this case, both in the minds of our guests and the flight crew.”
But Scott Wintner, a spokesman for the Wayne County Airport Authority, tells a different story.
“When law enforcement boarded the aircraft, the only way they possibly could have known which individuals to pursue would have been by the direction given to them from the flight crew,” Wintner told the Associated Press in an email. “Our officers were not onboard, and our officers were not the individuals who identified or reported to us the potential threat.”
He said, she said. What difference does it make? A person should be able to use the facilities on a plane without having to worry about being strip-searched (physically or with the help of a machine). Regardless of the color of their skin.