Once, in 2008, I had to confiscate a bottle of alcohol from a
group of Marines coming home from Afghanistan. It was celebration
champagne intended for one of the men in the group — a young,
decorated soldier. He was in a wheelchair, both legs lost to an
I.E.D., and it fell to me to tell this kid who would never walk
again that his homecoming champagne had to be taken away in the
name of national security.
There I was, an aspiring satire writer, earnestly acting on orders
straight out of Catch-22.
I quickly discovered I was working for an agency whose morale was
among the lowest in the U.S. government. In private, most TSA
officers I talked to told me they felt the agency’s day-to-day
operations represented an abuse of public trust and funds.