TSA Screening at an airport
The Transportation Security Administration will be debuting a "trusted traveler" program at some airports for frequent fliers. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Transportation Security Administration, a federal agency that has faced controversy over security measures such as mandatory pat-downs, has announced a “trusted traveler” pilot program. The TSA will allow frequent travelers to avoid searches and pat-downs if they pass security screenings in the program beginning this fall.

Frequent flyers could catch break from security agency

The Transportation Security Administration, according to Reuters, may be extending a helping hand this fall to frequent flyers willing to subject themselves to a one-time rigorous background screen. The TSA has been the center of great controversy for some time now over the airport pat-downs and screenings that many people feel are invasive and demeaning. John Pistole, the head of the TSA, recently told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the TSA would be debuting the program at select airports in conjunction with major domestic air carriers. The intent of the “trusted flier” program is to speed up the process for business and other frequent fliers. Presumably, a person can enroll in the program and undergo an extensive screening process including a background check. Those who pass will then be able to quickly get through airport security checkpoints.

News fails to impress Tea Party impresario

The announcement of a sort of “favored traveler” class, though a possible relief to people who must travel frequently, did not do much to impress one of the Homeland Security Committee’s newer members. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), son of long-serving Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), pounced on the opportunity to tear into Pistole for what he and many others feel are some serious failings in the TSA’s policies, according to Reason Magazine. Paul gave an example of a 6-year-old girl from Bowling Green, Ky., his hometown, who was subject to a random search and pat-down by TSA screeners. A similar incident sparked outrage in April of this year, according to NPR, when TSA personnel were filmed performing a search of a 6-year-old girl at a New Orleans Airport.

Need for new policies conceded

John Pistole announced during that hearing that the TSA would try reducing the number of pat-downs of children. TSA personnel were also found to have patted down an infant at Kansas City International Airport. Since the implementation of pat-downs and screenings, numerous disturbing incidents have come to light. For instance, according to Fox, the TSA conducted an extensive search this month on a severely disabled man from Detroit when personnel thought the adult diapers the man was wearing could be hiding explosives. The TSA was sued by Lindsey Murley of Corpus Christi, Texas, for exposing her breasts during a search in 2008 and paid her $2,350 in damages, according to the Daily Mail. TSA employees at Los Angeles International Airport, according to the Los Angeles Times, have a knack for losing laptops and digital cameras. In a three-year period, 202 laptops and 132 cameras went missing from luggage. Just 13 percent of laptop owners and 1 percent of camera owners were reimbursed for their property. The average laptop’s claimed value was more than $1,400.


Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/22/us-usa-security-aviation-idUSTRE75L4WH20110622?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews

Reason: http://reason.com/blog/2011/06/22/rand-paul-smacks-down-tsa-admi#commentcontainer

NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=137344013

Fox: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/06/10/tsa-admits-bad-judgment-after-disabled-man-subjected-to-airport-pat-down/

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393311/TSA-pays-just-2k-woman-breasts-exposed-patdown.html

Los Angles Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/30/business/la-fi-travel-briefcase-20110530

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