Boy, did he.
Slowly and calmly, the 49-year-old high-tech consultant took off all his clothes. Yes, even his socks.
His Tuesday evening protest may not rank up there with, say, the Boston Tea Party. But someone in the airport took a video of the scene, of course, and it made its way to the Internet – PG-13 or a hint of an R depending on the director’s cut. By Wednesday, Brennan was exposed.
“I want to say,” Brennan noted during an interview in his Portland home, “that I was nude, but not lewd.”
His brush with fame began during what was supposed to be a routine business trip to San Jose. After checking his bag, he made his way through the security checkpoint. He then chose not to go through one of the new security machines.
A Transportation Security Administration agent patted him down. The agent then rubbed him with a small piece of paper, which was taken to a machine for testing.
“He came back and said the machine showed I’d tested positive for explosives,” Brennan said. “It was ridiculous. I fly once a month on business. I don’t have explosives. I had to decide right then what to do about this.”
And so he began removing his clothes. “I wanted to show him that I had no bomb,” Brennan said. “The agents are just doing their jobs, but they are part of a broken system.”
Brennan is clearly not the shy and retiring type. He’s participated in Portland’s annual Naked Bike Ride and has been in a hot tub. Still, this was a new experience.
“He asked me to please not do this,” Brennan said. “He asked me to put my clothes on. I said I believed I had a right to be nude.”
That’s when a call went out to the Port of Portland cops.
Brennan, meanwhile, was standing there “concentrating and trying to be serene. I was like that for five minutes, but it felt like forever.”
When police came, they draped him in a blanket and led him off through the airport. “That’s when I heard some people laughing,” Brennan said. “I tried to look as dignified as possible.”
Port police said his action forced the temporary closure of two screening lines. They put him in an airport holding cell.
Later, he was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on accusations of being nude in public and disorderly conduct.
Although he is an independent contractor, he called his boss to explain what had happened and why he wouldn’t be in San Jose immediately. He faces a court date in early May.
The Transportation Security Administration is assessing the case, a spokeswoman said, noting that a passenger could face a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for interfering with the screening process.
“TSA partners with the traveling public to screen all passengers safely and efficiently,” the agency said in a statement. “When a passenger chooses to be purposefully disruptive, we notify law enforcement.”
“He’s tired of it and more power to him — I hope we see more of this,” Hanni said. “As Americans we have not protested enough about our rights.”
Brennan booked another flight to San Jose. He was scheduled to leave Wednesday night but said his meeting in California was cancelled last minute, so he stayed home in Portland.
“I’ll only strip down like this once,” he said. “I have to fly. I don’t want to end up on some no-fly list.”
By Tom Hallman,Jr