The TSA Just Met Its Edward Snowden

Meet Jason Edward Harrington.

Jason Edward Harrington, Former TSA Agent

He has just become to the TSA what Edward Snowden is for the NSA: a massive thorn of truth penetrating deep into the side of abusive government.  His article on Politico, “Dear America, I Saw You Naked” is making the rounds on social media.

In the piece, Harrington mercilessly hammers the TSA for its wastefulness, abuse, hypocrisy, and incompetency.  The TSA has already responded with a run of  the mill “We deny everything and we would never do anything wrong” press release.

But Jason Harrington has given us a real gift with this article.  He’s given us a glimpse of the inner workings of the TSA without abandoning his soul to the robotic, dreary doldrums of “orders” and “standard operating procedures.”  In fact, if anything, it seems that Harrington’s firsthand experience with government has awakened him to the injustices of the system that he used to enforce.

One of the things that struck me most about the article was how, as an employee of the TSA, Harrington started to speak out against TSA policies.  At first, fear kept him from writing about his experiences.  But like the great dystopian protagonists (I’m thinking especially of Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451 and John Preston from Equilibrium), Harrington eventually couldn’t live without speaking out against the TSA’s abusiveness and hypocrisy.  The sheer stupidity of the system drove him to expose it and move beyond it.

And now, his life is moving forward as he pursues his career ambition of becoming a writer.  He certainly has gotten off to a great start, exemplifying what it means to debate the state!

People wrote in to the blog suggesting that the announcement might have been prompted by the embarrassment my site brought upon the organization. If ever someone wanted to de-anonymize me, it was then. I felt it was in my interest to get out—soon.

The only question was where to go.

I didn’t know how I would ever make a decent living as a writer, but I also knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life as a mindless cog in a vast bureaucratic machine. On the advice of an editor friend, I had begun applying to graduate school creative writing programs in the weeks before I clicked publish on my site.

I feared I wouldn’t be accepted into any of the seven programs to which I’d applied—and dreaded being stranded in airport purgatory. But I was lucky: The first acceptance came in January, with an offer of a full scholarship. Several more followed.

(…)

As a writer, the only thing of value that I could glean from my time at the TSA was the story of it all—the sheer absurdity of working for one of America’s most despised federal agencies. In the six months that I secretly blogged as a TSA employee, I did my best to record every notable piece of stupidity TSA and O’Hare had to offer.

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