According to recent coverage, Michael Yon is very quietly recanting his original claim that TSA handcuffed him for refusing to answer questions about his income. A blog in the American Thinker is a classic. The author is so determined to trash TSA that he begins his article this way:
Give me one good reason to buy a ticket on any domestic airline in the United States. Death in the family? I'll walk. Business trip? Let's try video conferencing. Vacation? Go Amtrak!
Michael Yon - a guy I've dubbed this generation's Ernie Pyle - was placed in handcuffs at the Seattle airport, not because he showed up on a terrorist's watch list but because he refused to divulge to the TSA bullies how much money he made.
With that off his chest, the author admits that the only problem with the rant is that TSA had nothing to do with Yon's experience, after which the author returns immediately to trashing TSA for something it didn't do.
Michael discovered later that it was not TSA but rather Customs that was asking questions no American should have to answer. You have to wonder how bad things would have been if the underwear bomber had succeeded.
And, Michael, for your information, Customs and Border Protection officers have been asking people about their money for, oh, a century or two. Carrying $10,000 across the border without declaring it is a crime, to give one example of why they might be interested. And all that time you spent in Afghanistan? I for one would like to know that people who say they spent months in Afghanistan reporting on the conflict were actually doing that, not participating in fight on the wrong side. And I would hope they'd ask those questions no matter what last name the traveler has and no matter how Anglo the traveler looks.
After all, a chip that big probably has to be declared.
But the incident also raises questions about Michael Yon's reporting. CBP's uniforms are black, not blue, and they don't say TSA anywhere. CBP meets you when your plane lands, not before it takes off, and it doesn't put everyone's bags through an x-ray or step you through a magnetometer. Instead, the officer asks you for your passport, and says "Welcome home." It's not that hard to tell the difference between CBP and TSA officers, especially if you get close enough to them to, you know, refuse to answer their questions and get handcuffed.
I've been assuming that Yon's reportage from Aghanistan is (a) great stuff and (b) a harbinger of what journalism will become. Now I doubt (a) and fear (b). Really, this is the Internet at its worst -- recursive broadcasts of a story that gets everyone's juices flowing and turns out to be utterly bogus.
Come on, Michael, the main stream media would have published a very clear correction by now. That's the least you can do.