Friday, October 22, 2010

Bravo - Michael Roberts

I flew a few weeks after 9-11, the planes were mostly empty and it was a good time to use some of my frequent flier miles. Security was very tight and the sparse passengers eyed each other intensely. Over the period of a few years, the TSA was formed and began to define its job. I clearly recall standing with my arms apart while some dink ran a wand all over me, thinking...I'm a veteran, my father was a veteran, so were my grandfather and his father, and so was Grandpa Jim who served in the Revolution. All of us volunteered for service and all of us saw combat...and these low-level slugs, who probably never served, are running a wand all over me?

Well, that was the thought going through my mind. A week ago something like that went through pilot, Mike Roberts' mind when he declined to submit to a full body scan while going to his Expressjet plane in Memphis. Bravo, Mike. Here's the story in case you might have missed it:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CBS/AP) — A Tennessee pilot who says he’s tired of being manhandled by security agents is waiting to see if he will lose his job because he refused a full body scan.

ExpressJet Airlines first officer Michael Roberts was chosen for the X-ray scan Friday at Memphis International Airport. The Houston-based pilot says he also refused a pat-down and went home.

The 35-year-old Roberts told The Commercial Appeal newspaper he wants to go to work and not be “harassed or molested without cause.”

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Jon Allen says a person was turned away after refusing to follow federal security procedures but declined to say if it was Roberts, citing privacy considerations.

Roberts says he has safety concerns, but called TSA a “make-work” program that doesn’t make travel safer.

“I just kind of had to ask myself ‘Where do I stand?’ I’m just not comfortable being physically manhandled by a federal security agent every time I go to work,” he told the Commercial Appeal.

Earlier this week, CBSNewYork reported that full-body scanners have not yet been installed at New York City area airports, despite plans that were in place to have them installed at Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International, and LaGuardia airports by September.

The Transportation Security Administration told The Star-Ledger of Newark the installation is complex and the scanners would arrive “in the coming weeks.”

Passengers who prefer not to be scanned can choose to be patted down and pass through a metal detector.

TSA spokesman Ann Davis says passengers are no less safe. She says the scanners are designed to be faster and less physically intrusive than metal detectors and pat-downs.

The TSA has installed 259 scanners at 59 airports nationwide.

Bravo Michael

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