Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) used to have constant trouble at airports because a name similar to his was on the TSA’s “no-fly” list. Even as a senior Senator he couldn’t find out why, and couldn’t get the harassment stopped (which he eventually mentioned publicly during a Senate hearing) for more than three weeks. For ordinary mortals, “redress” takes months or years, if it ever happens at all.
Now it’s Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) — sponsor of the amendment passed overwhelmingly by the House in June, despite opposition from the leadership of both major parties, to restrict the TSA’s use of virtual strip search (“Whole Body Imaging”) machines at checkpoints in airports — who’s gotten on the TSA’s VIP list for special treatment.
According to reports in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News, frequent-flyer freshman Congressman Chaffetz — who has refused to move to Washington, sleeps on a cot in a back room of his Congressional office during the week, and flies home to Utah to be with his family every weekend — got into trouble at SLC last week after he (1) refused to “consent” to a virtual strip search (“Chaffetz had told the House, “You don’t have to look at my wife and 8-year-old daughter naked to secure an airplane.” He says he didn’t want the TSA looking at him naked either. He told the Deseret News the TSA has not lived up to promises to post signs about what the whole-body imaging machine does”) and then (2) tried to read the name on a TSA agent’s badge (which the agent only showed him after Chaffetz identified himself as a member of Congress, although the TSA agents said they already knew who he was).
Of course, Chaffetz was then “randomly” selected for extra groping (“secondary screening”). But we’re sure that had nothing to do with his political opinions or attempts to hold the TSA accountable to the laws he helps make.