Cravaack’s Office Says New Airport Security Rules For Military Shouldn’t Mean Reduced Screening
The Risk-Based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act mandates that TSA develop a separate screening process for military members flying on civilian aircraft.
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.
But other than the fact sheet, Cravaack’s office didn’t have many recommendations on how TSA should alternatively screen military members or assess the risk level of individual travelers.
Bars said Atwater’s incident is an example of TSA’s existing layered security process and that any alternative screening processes would have to be comparable. The elimination of pat downs for military members and their families wouldn’t exempt travelers from full body scanners, for example.
The law gives TSA 180 days to come up with a plan.
In November TSA began a pilot program at the Monterrey Regional Airport using military ID cards to streamline security screenings for military personnel. The pilot tested the technology necessary to verify the status of U.S. service members. There was no change in physical screening. There is also the possibility that Armed Forces members will be incorporated into TSA's trusted traveler program.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the United States House Committee on Homeland Security, released a statement congratulating passage of the bill , despite saying the military was being infiltrated by terrorists just one month earlier.
The likelihood of an attack by a “trusted insider” or member of the military is an emerging threat as terrorists continue to infiltrate the United States Armed Forces , King said at a Dec. 7 Committee on Homeland Security hearing.
photo: U.S. Army