Cravaack’s Office Says New Airport Security Rules For Military Shouldn’t Mean Reduced Screening

Carlton Purvis

Trey Scott Atwater is the Ft. Bragg Green Beret who was stopped at the Fayetteville, N.C. airport on Christmas Eve for having a smoke grenade in his carry-on bag. Screeners confiscated the grenade and he was allowed to continue his flight to Texas.

Atwater was stopped from boarding his return flight on New Year’s Eve after screeners found C4 in his bag. The same morning Atwater was charged with trying to bring explosives onto an airplane, which carries a possible 10-year federal prison sentence, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 1801 into law.

The Risk-Based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act, which President Obama signed into law on Tuesday, shouldn't mean less stringent screening for military members, according to the office of U.S. representative Chip Cravaack (MN-R), the congressman who introduced the bill.

The law mandates that TSA develop a separate screening process for military members flying on civilian aircraft. Cravaack, a former military and commercial pilot, has in the past advocated for developing a risk-based screening process to reduce checkpoint wait times.

“The expedited process would not be a more lax process. It would be separate process that is ultimately up to TSA to come up with and implement,” said Michael Bars, spokesperson for Cravaack. “It could be just a separate line and the same process -- or a completely different process. It would be up to TSA. The goal is to expedite the security process but not the weakening of security measures.”

The bill mandates that the plan factor in accompanying family members, develop procedures for screening military gear like combat boots, and incorporate the new rules in to any future screening processes.

An H.R. 1801 fact sheet distributed by Cravaack says military members and their families shouldn’t be subject to pat downs when traveling on orders and that members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan shouldn’t be required to remove their uniform jackets, belt buckles, or medals for TSA.


Screening for Military

The fact that screeners found the smoke grenade but missed the C4 speaks volumes. It's also relevant that the C4 was packed in carry-on luggage with no apparent attempt to conceal. Screening is not going to detect an explosive device broken into component parts. It's not going to detect PETN in a body cavity. Full body scanners are not going to detect plastic explosives disguised as a body contour. The USA is throwing 8 billion dollars a year at the TSA -- money much more wisely spent on intelligence, law enforcement, and disaster response. And all this to counter a threat that very nearly approaches zero by any rational measure. Whatever rationale that exists for airport screening applies equally to shopping malls, sporting events, subways, buses, and tunnels. Are we going to bring the country to a standstill by strip-searching rail commuters? TSA  was thrown together in a blind panic by Congress one month after 9/11 and, as GAO consistently points out, there is virtually no "rigor" to their obsessive approach to "security." I'd add that the checkpoint itself is a target-rich environment for a suicide bomber or shooter. As Bruce Scnheier has pointed out, exactly two things have made us safer post-9/11: hardened cockpits and the willingness of passengers to fight back. You know, other countries, notably UK, have sustained horrendous assaults on their public transit system and their response was to be vigilant, track down the terrorists (in that case IRA) and, above all, to carry on

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