Security And Who We Punish

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Nathaniel Heatwole shook the TSA and airline community last week after allegedly placing box cutters, bleach and clay in the lavatories of two Southwest Airlines jets. Now, he’s back hitting the books at Guilford College. A news release from the Quaker school confirmed the junior "has returned to his normal academic and campus life routines." Twenty-year-old Heatwole, of Damascus, Md., was released without bail Oct. 20 after being charged with taking a dangerous weapon aboard an aircraft. His next hearing is set for Nov. 10. While he could face prison time for the federal charges, Heatwole won't be punished by Gilford College because he didn't violate Guilford's student conduct code, Anne Lundquist, dean for student life, told the Associated Press. Heatwole’s case has caused some debate both publicly and within Congress, where some legislators believe he served a public service by exposing the TSA’s weaknesses. Others, including Attorney General John Ashcroft, want to apply the full letter of the law. Nevertheless, some good has come from his antics, as changes have already been made to the current security policy. The TSA announced it revised the procedures for handling tips and complaints it receives from the public after it was discovered that Heatwole allegedly sent an e-mail message -- nearly two months before -- disclosing his plan. The message was never processed.