The August 5 memo recommends reducing patdowns by giving screeners the discretion not to search those wearing tight-fitting clothes. It also suggests exempting several categories of passengers from screening, including federal judges, members of Congress, Cabinet members, state governors, high-ranking military officers and those with high-level security clearances.
From a CNN.com story, “Airline screening hassles may be cut”
This is an awful, awful idea. If anything, the powerful should be made to go through the most stringent screenings every time. The boarding passes of any member of Congress should print out with “XXXX” under that weird barcode thing.
The powerful already avoid too much of the pain inflicted on the public. Flying in super-polluting private jets, they don’t wait around at gates, experience the bus-like commodity commercial flights have become, and often avoid the cattle-herding of the security lines.
As long as we feel that we need these kind of precautions, those in power who create and maintain the situation that demands it should experience the pain.
This isn’t only about security, either. There’s this national inability to sacrifice. Our President praises military service as a high calling, but doesn’t so much as ask his fresh-out-of-college daughters to please consider serving in the armed forces, where they might end up as the gunner on a HUMVEE getting shot at. The members of Congress who supported the war don’t have kids getting shot at. People at gas stations bitch about how high their gas prices are. Heck, here in Washington we’ve got an initiative to repeal a modest gas tax that will pay for massive transportation improvements, but those same people aren’t going after the petrol companies that used the opportunity to push prices through the roof.
It’s shameful. You think some PFC who finally gets rotated off wants to hear someone in their Escalade joke that “if we went into Iraq for oil, why is gas so goddamned expensive?” Fuck that. They probably want to know why you’ve got a “Support our troops” ribbon on that leviathan when every tankful’s supporting the Iranians and the Saudis funding the people who were shooting at her last week. Where’s the sacrifice?
Besides that, while I understand that a member of Congress is unlikely to blow up a plane, making artificial distinctions of who is and isn’t a security risk based on their position in society is, in itself, the first step on a well-paved road to hell. If anything, it provides a temptation for the powerful to stop trying to make improvements, to treat the plebians who aren’t in Congress but want a flight like they’re on the wrong side of the Stanford prison experiment.
It should be this way for every possible law. Pass something giving the government broad wiretap powers? Give the public broad wiretap powers against government officials. They’ve got nothing to hide, right? Otherwise, why would they object? Discussing classified information? Why is that any more important than my right to privacy?
One of the only reasons the TSA watchlist has undergone any kind of reform is because members of Congress have found themselves trying to fight it when they got red-flagged. That’s good. Good. Shared pain and sacrifice, even in petty crap like airport security, brings everyone together.
That anyone would even come up with this idea is horrible.