Friday, October 24th, 2014

Texas no-fly zone?

Texans show their support at the Texas Capitol on June 4 for legislation that would prohibit invasive pat-downs at airport security checkpoints.
Texans show their support at the Texas Capitol on June 4 for legislation that would prohibit invasive pat-downs at airport security checkpoints.

The Waco Tea Party called a foul after legislation that would prohibit Transportation Security Administration officials from patting-down passengers’ private parts at airport security checkpoints stalled in the Texas Senate.

"The federal government has threatened Texas lawmakers with a no-fly zone if they pass" the proposal, the group’s May 25 e-mail blast said. Sort of, we found. The feds have warned lawmakers that TSA could cancel "any flight or series of flights for which it couldn’t secure the safety of passengers and crew." But it’s not clear exactly how many — if any — would be grounded. Half True.

Don Zimmerman, an Austin member of the State Republican Executive Committee, similarly wants this legislation to become law, arguing that other safeguards are in place to protect passengers. "The fact is, every time you buy an airline ticket, the federal government runs a background check on you," he said in a May 31 press release. Barely True: Every airline passenger must provide basic personal information that’s run against a federal database before gaining access to a commercial flight, but that does not a background check make.

Earlier, an Obama administration official suggested there’s no reason to moan and groan about intrusive pat-downs. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said "very, very, very few people get a pat-down" when they go through airport security. PolitiFact Georgia rated that one Pants on Fire. A small percentage of people may get patted down, but TSA’s figures show that the number of passengers can top 1 million a month. That’s not a few.

Some passengers are subjected to a pat-down because they’ve opted out of a TSA body scanner-screening, which some find objectionable and even unhealthy. Yet TSA administrator John Pistole told CNN on Nov. 16 the radiation coming from the scanners is "equivalent to about three minutes worth of air travel by anybody, say, at 30,000 feet." PolitiFact rated that True.