Sunday, June 22, 2008
We brought a news crew into the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) this morning. After several days of securing permissions from the Transportation Minister, the Civil Aviation Administration, Iraqi Airways and the airport security contractor we were finally allowed to do the story on Iraqi Airways.
The entertaining part of this was just how many people came up to us and told us that we couldn’t film or take photos in the airport. We were surrounded by representatives of all of those organizations, and still the Iraqi Police, Iraqi Customs, KBR, and the security company still thought it necessary to inform us that we couldn’t take pictures. It seemed like the new national sport, telling the media it couldn’t film inside the airport.
One over-eager, low-level, security contractor informed our cameraman that he was going to have to review our tape for approval. You want to upset a cameraman? Tell him that you want to have his tape. A good cameraman is well-prepared for that eventuality.
This is a case of what I call “half-security”, in other words applying restrictive measures in the name of security because it seems like a good idea; security measures in the absence of common sense. What are we going to capture on film that everyone sitting around the terminal already cannot see for themselves? Are the fifty new KBR employees just in from the States, marching past the camera, somehow in disguise? Everyone knows who they are; they all have little red KBR ID card-holders around their neck so that they can identify themselves!
My other favorite is cell phones. Every security checkpoint that we pass through the “checkers” want us to remove the battery from your cell phone, lest we detonate a car bomb with it. Meanwhile they neglect to open the trunk of our car and search for the mystery explosives or completely overlook the Motorola radio hanging from our hips. It simply sounds like a good idea to remove the cell phone batteries but is devoid of any common sense or reason.
“Half security” is the case with almost every protective measure that you come across in Baghdad. Security is a sport here, played well by a few, but for the majority, they’re doing just that… playing.