New TSA Exemptions: Pilots and Congressmen, But Not Flight Attendants

If you’re hoping to see changes in the heightened TSA security protocols that require you either to go through the new backscatter machines or be aggressively patted down, including your genitals, you’re not likely going to find a lot of support from Congress.  Turns out, they’re exempt from the alleged inconvenience or humiliation of the new regime.

Via the New York Times:

“Over the last 20 years, I have flown back and forth to my district on a commercial aircraft,” [Future Speaker of the House, Republican John] Boehner said at the time, “and I am going to continue to do that.”

And so on Friday, he did. But not without the perquisites of office, including avoiding those security pat-downs that many travelers are bracing for as holiday travel season approaches.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for the Republican leader, said in a statement that Mr. Boehner was not receiving special treatment. And a law enforcement official said that any member of Congress or administration official with a security detail is allowed to bypass security.

“The appropriate security procedures for all Congressional leaders, including Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid, are determined by the Capitol Police working with the Transportation Security Administration,” Mr. Steel said.

But the politicians aren’t the only ones who are now being allowed to bypass security.  Pilots, after expressing grave concerns over the amount of radiation coming form the machines and the effect an overly invasive patdown would have on their mental state before going off to man an aircraft, can now skip the process, too.

Flight attendants, on the other hand, are not exempt, even though they would be exposed to the radiation of the backscatter machines just as often as the pilots would.

Via Lindsay Beyerstein:

The TSA agreed on Friday to exempt pilots from invasive security pat-downs. Last week, two major pilots’ unions demanded that their members be exempted from new rules that require passengers to submit to an invasive body search if they refuse to pass through the new backscatter x-ray machines.

So far, the TSA has not granted the same exemption for flight attendants, despite protests by unions representing these workers. Flight attendants undergo the same fingerprinting and 10-year FBI background check as pilots.

Unions representing pilots and flight attendants are advising their members to avoid the scanners because they inflict micro-doses of radiation. The dose is trivially small, equivalent to the extra radiation exposure of flying for 15 minutes, but pilots may have to pass through the scanners twice every working day. Radiation exposure is cumulative, and pilots are already exposed to large amounts of radiation as part of their work. The old scanners didn’t cause radiation exposure.

It’s almost as if the screeners don’t want to lose a patdown opportunity on a large group of predominately female employees who can’t refuse.

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Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle8 years ago

What 23% of the population are misogynists? Why the ones who voted in this survey! There is absolutely no reason to exempt pilots from x-ray, most of whom are men, and to force flight attendants to go through xray, most of whom are female, than MISOGYNY.

And congressional members are to be trusted? Not according to all the polls?!

Cheri H.
Cheri H8 years ago

Lets put Obama and his family and all of congress through these damn machines and pat downs!They are wrong wrong wrong!

Lika S.
Lika P8 years ago

I think congress should be exposed to this embarrassment first. If they're fine with it, then okay, I can be too. If they are exempt, so are we. Who made them God? We are THEY'RE boss, not the other way around.

Mike and Janis B.
Janis B8 years ago

Governments continuing to rule by fear and we put up with it, why? It should be one rule for all and all should abide by it not this some are more equal than others.

Bonnie S.
Bonnie S8 years ago

Terrorists infiltrate us from within. What's to stop a Congressman or a pilot from being bought off by these monsters? NO ONE should be exempt!

Debra C.
Sean Connors8 years ago

I truly hope that no one in the Care 2 Community is surprised, in the least, by this. We must know, by now, that the same Congressmen who allow Bankers to play financial roulette with our savings and invade countries abroad with callous disregard for the costs we incur and with "reckless abandon" and no exit strategy, by the way! Who have taxpayer financed lifetime Health and Disability insurance and hundreds of other perquesites to lavish and obscene to mention (think Michael Steele, et al, in the Lesbian Bondage Club on the Taxpayers' dime).
Now, the Pilots are another matter! These predominantly male Fraternity brothers, you would think, would be marking in lockstep with their fellow workers in the sky! Once again, however, " you're never really important until you're more important than somebody else"! Think Bronc riders and Rodeo clowns, think Lone Ranger and Tonto, think Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew--anyway it;s really not about "we're all n this together as a flight crew, it's "Coffee Tea or Me, Time!"

Steve A.
Steve A8 years ago

Another thought.

The politician with a security detail doesn't get searched.

How stupid is this?

You search all the other passengers because they MIGHT have a gun or a bomb, and you don't stop the one who you KNOW will be carrying one!

Of course being a trained security guard it won't be possible for the four burly ex-special forces terrorists (on a suicide mission) to take his gun from him mid flight will it?

Steve A.
Steve A8 years ago

What are they going to do when a group of nudists decide to strip in the queue instead of being subjected to radiation or groping?

The authorities can hardly object about nudity in a public place because the TSA screeners are already seing the passengers 'naked'.

And why should politicians (with a security detail) be exempt from the laws they pass? They should be making sure that they are seen to be doing the right thing. Or don't they want us to know all this is security theatre?

Michael Kayutak
Michael Kayutak8 years ago

I'd rather take a ferry than a plane.

Dan S.
Dan S8 years ago

I don't see the airlines making much of a fuss over this issue. They just lost my business. For me, if it means driving for 3 days to get to my destination, I would rather do that when possible than allow the government to invade my privacy.