As professional pilots, some colleagues and I recently issued a statement to our airline. We voiced our rejection of the policy changes being enacted by the Transportation Security Administration at airport security checkpoints across the country, including Memphis International (Sept. 18 article, "Virtual strip search / Random full-body scans launched at Memphis airport").
We do not consent to the indignity of virtual strip searches as a matter of course in performing the duties of our profession. Neither can we conscientiously accept being physically frisked by federal agents every day as a reasonable alternative.
Obviously, our work places us inside the flight deck door by necessity. We wouldn't have to smuggle a weapon into the airport to take control of an aircraft. After running the gantlet of required background checks, security training and screening procedures, it's just plain silly to confiscate pilots' pocket knives and corkscrews before we enter the cockpit. In short, here's hoping the crew for your next flight is on the home team.
But that's not even the point.
We are appalled that any citizen who is not under arrest, has made no threats, nor raised any suspicion of terrorism or other malice should be made to submit to either of these "options" in order to move about within his or her own national borders.
Federal airport security guards are often unskilled, entry-level responders to help-wanted ads affixed to pizza boxes. Perhaps novice agents lack the perspective to grasp the full implications of their work. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. But please don't show them your naked body. Don't let these strangers put their hands on you or your children. Their abuse protects no one. No, the good citizens of a free society must resist such authoritarian overtures at least as much as any foreign threat.
I offer my condolences if your flight should be delayed or canceled because the TSA won't let us in the door. But I suggest that your freedom is more important. At any rate, ours certainly is.
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