You can’t make up this stuff. TSA evidently wants mule skinners to get TSA biometric Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC). We can’t be too safe. Now TSA wants to check out the costumed folk who walk alongside the mules that pull barges in a historic park.

The fact that TSA is interpreting the rules written for longshoremen and stevedores that require them to get criminal background checks is being applied to mule drivers is utter foolishness. TSA’s requirements that mule drivers be credentialed has reached the point of ridiculousness.

Making matters even more absurd, the CNN news story notes,

“The park’s two-mile canal does not pass any military bases, nuclear power plants or other sensitive facilities. And, park officials say, the mules could be considered weapons of mass destruction only if they were aimed at something resembling food.”

This is a story that has gotten lots of laughs, but it is also a sad tale of unrestrained government bureaucracy gone amok. Working through the system, the park sent a letter to their Representative Charles Dent who forwarded it to TSA asking for a waiver for their mule skinners.

According to Dent’s office, TSA responded with bureaucratic aplomb, “”We encourage the crew members… who possess Coast Guard mariner credentials to obtain a TWIC at their earliest convenience to comply with these requirements and not risk suspension or revocation of their other credentials.”

It is amazing how obtuse government workers can be. What are they thinking? Perhaps there was no thinking involved — the response sounds like a form letter.

Now comes the saddest part of this story.

The only way to get the attention of our mindless TSA bureaucracy was to publicly embarrass the incoming Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, during a House committee hearing with photos of the mules in question, Hank and George, tugging a canal boat in the company of two park employee mule drivers in colonial working attire.

The chagrined Secretary Napolitano, noting the absurdity of the situation, said she would work with the park on this particular case.

Let’s hope that a House committee hearing is not the only place that common sense can be displayed by TSA and DHS.