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A Congressman gets debriefed.
January 8, 2002 8:40 AM   Subscribe

A Congressman gets debriefed. In other news, lawmakers finally reap what they sow.
posted by insomnyuk (17 comments total)

 
Maybe this will provide some motivation for congress to federalize and STANDARDIZE (for chis'sakes) security procedures at US airports.

Or maybe they'll all retreat to getting tax payers to pay for their private jets.....
posted by Red58 at 8:53 AM on January 8, 2002


It was then that the security employee, known as a screener, ordered him to unhook the brace from his knee and remove his shoes and socks, Dingell said. Then the congressman was led into a temporary office and directed to lower his slacks while the employee waved a metal-detecting wand over his boxer shorts.

"I complied, but tried to do it with some small bit of dignity," Dingell said...


Kudos to Rep. Dingell, and this should be a lesson to a well known Secret Service agent who went crying to CAIR and to his lawyers about being profiled because he's an Arab-American. So much for CAIR's declaration that if the agent had a last name of Smith or Jones, he would not be treated in such a way.
posted by Rastafari at 8:55 AM on January 8, 2002


Maybe this will provide some motivation for congress to federalize and STANDARDIZE (for chis'sakes) security procedures at US airports.

I hope not. In terms of actually providing security, that's one of the worst things we could do. If you standardize security practices, once terrorists have determined how to circumvent them, their knowledge will, by default, apply to every airport in the US.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:02 AM on January 8, 2002


And the problem is? So, he was carefully screened because he set off the metal detectors? Strip search isn't pleasant, but it doesn't sound like he was treated badly. And contrary to the implications in the article, it seems he wasn't targeted BECAUSE he's a member of congress.
posted by tippiedog at 9:09 AM on January 8, 2002


[...contrary to the implications in the article, it seems he wasn't targeted BECAUSE he's a member of congress.]

There's a form of profiling I could almost get behind.
posted by revbrian at 9:15 AM on January 8, 2002


From my right-winger perspective I can but say any Democrat (aka Socialist/commie) might well be perceived as being fairly close to being a terrorist of some kind.
posted by Postroad at 9:21 AM on January 8, 2002


heh heh...his name is 'Dingell'...heh heh
posted by msacheson at 9:41 AM on January 8, 2002


Dingell said, adding that afterward he couldn't help seething to his wife, "Woman, do you realize what they made me do?"

His wife's name is "Woman"?!?
posted by Outlawyr at 9:58 AM on January 8, 2002


If someone in an airport told me to drop my pants, I'd probably drop everything, just to spite them and emotionally scar them for life.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:08 AM on January 8, 2002


So much for CAIR's declaration that if the agent had a last name of Smith or Jones, he would not be treated in such a way

the Congressman set off the metal detector. the SS agent didn't. this event doesn't refute the agent's claim.
posted by tolkhan at 10:48 AM on January 8, 2002


the Congressman set off the metal detector. the SS agent didn't. this event doesn't refute the agent's claim.

Sorry to disagree with you, but this event does refute the agent's claim. First of all, the Rep. Dingall explained to the screener about his metal leg brace (which he had taken off at that point) and explained about his hip. Still, the screener wasn't satisfied, and asked him to step into a private room where Rep. Dingall had to drop his pants while he was scanned. In the agent's case, he carried a gun on board, and the pilot wasn't satisfied with the paperwork. Even if you take the agent's word for it, the pilot had absolute right to do what he did. Are you perhaps saying that -- under similar circumstances -- if this had happened to an agent with an American name/heritage, there would have been a different outcome?

The point here is, both the pilot and the screener were doing their respective jobs. In the agent's case, he cried discrimination to an advocasy goup and got his lawyer involved. In the congressman's case, which was more humiliating in my opinion, he handled it with cool and understanding. This does refute the agent's claim that he was profiled because of his heritage.
posted by Rastafari at 11:14 AM on January 8, 2002


insomnyuk writes,

"I hope not. In terms of actually providing security, that's one of the worst things we could do. If you standardize security practices, once terrorists have determined how to circumvent them, their knowledge will, by default, apply to every airport in the US."

Standards are not the problem. Good standards would include random elements designed to compensate for the problems insomnyuk suggests. The alternative, I suppose that would be no standards?
posted by onegoodmove at 3:55 PM on January 8, 2002


Sorry to disagree with you, but this event does refute the agent's claim.

No, it doesn't, because it's apples and oranges. In this case, the Congressman made a claim that could not be verified in any other way -- and to his discredit, because it is standard procedure to give an identification/alert card to people with metal medical implants which will set off alarms, for this very reason. Anyone can claim to have a pin or replacement joint any time. Who's to know if that claim is true? I could say that I have pins in my knee (I used to, don't now) when the detector is actually picking up the razor blades I have taped to my skin and covered with an ace bandage.

Either Dingell's doctor was remiss in providing that id card, or the congressman was remiss in carrying it in a situation in which he knew he would be screened for. . . metal! He was given an opportunity to prove his claim to the best of his ability which, in this case, unfortunately meant dropping his pants. He could have avoided this by simply carrying the card.

The Secret Service agent -- who had passed through airport security with a gun, meaning that his credentials had already been reviewed (likely more than once) and deemed sufficient -- was never given the opportunity to prove his claim that he was who he said he was, and not a security risk. The pilot looked at him, decided that he didn't like the way that he looked or his attitude (which is being described now as combative, which may stem from the fact that he was being publicly humiliated and put off of a plane) and simply said "get off my plane" and wouldn't even take the agent's suggestion to call the SS to verify his identity, because the SS knew that he was to be on that flight. (He was enroute to guard the POTUS and secure his ranch in Texas, after all.)

The congresscritter had no ID to back up his claim, the agent did. The critter did all that he could to prove his claim, the agent was denied that opportunity. The situations are not analogous at all.
posted by Dreama at 4:34 PM on January 8, 2002


The pilot looked at him, decided that he didn't like the way that he looked or his attitude (which is being described now as combative, which may stem from the fact that he was being publicly humiliated and put off of a plane) and simply said "get off my plane"

It's a question of he said, he said, Dreama, and in this case, the Pilot get the benefit of the doubt, because the Pilot should ALWAYS have the benefit of the doubt, because he's responsible for a lot of lives. It's as simple as that. (The pilot says there were a lot of inconsistencies in the paperwork, and the agent got to Bush a day late, so where'e the harm?)

And how do you know the congresman didn't have ID? I didn't read that in the article. And you talk about the agent being publikly humiliated, what's more humiliating than having to drop your pants and your groin area being scanned? Is that any less humiliating? Furthermore, if you're a part of the Secret Service, would you want this such a public case? All he had to do was maybe complain to Bush, who could have contacted the airline, and the agent would have had an apology. But, he went crying to CAIR, and had to get his lawyers involved. Why, because he's secret service agent, and he got his feelings hurt, and you can't do that to him!!! That's crap.

The point is this: the pilot was doing his job, as was the screener. The congressman, whose job is way, way, way more important than the agent, did not get bent out of shape about the incident, because he understands this needs to be done for security of all people. Too bad the agent doesn't understabd that.
posted by Rastafari at 6:08 PM on January 8, 2002


And talk about the agent being humiliated, what's more humiliating than having to pull down your pants and having your groin area scanned? What's more humilating than that? Who do you think was more humilated over this, dreama, the agent or the congresscritter? And who do you think handled it better?

This is not a case of apples and oranges. CAIR, and the agent's lawyer, are all complaining that the agent was profiled because he was of Arab descent. here's a Congressman, of a very American descent, and he was very mature about it.
posted by Rastafari at 6:12 PM on January 8, 2002


What's more humilating than that?

A full body-cavity search?
posted by kindall at 7:22 PM on January 8, 2002


And how do you know the congresman didn't have ID?

Basic deduction -- if he had a valid medical ID which indicated that he had a medical implant, why didn't he present it? That would've nullified the need for all of the drama. When I flew while I had metal implants, I had my ID card ready to present before I ever passed through the detector gate. I then assumed the position to be doused with the hand scanner. It was the only prudent thing to do -- it saved problems for me and the screeners, and that was long before the days of extremely heightened security. I considered it my responsibility to verify the situation I was presenting, just as law enforcement who are flying with handguns have badges and identification out and ready to present before they are needed.

And you talk about the agent being publikly humiliated, what's more humiliating than having to drop your pants and your groin area being scanned? Is that any less humiliating?

The congresscritter publicly set off the metal detector alarms in full view of everyone in the area. He removed his jacket, shoes and socks and turned out his pockets, and continued to set off the alarms. Everyone around could see that he was causing a problem. But he was taken into a private room before being asked to remove his pants for scanning of the area in which he claimed he had a medical implant. The fact is, according to the regulations, he should not have been allowed onto the plane. He had something in his person which was setting off the screening devices, and no documentation to substantiate his story as to what it was.

Meanwhile, the agent, who had documentation to verify his credentials and identity was confronted, accused and escorted off of a plane that he'd already been permitted to board. In the eyes of everyone around he was no longer someone with a potential problem that could be cleared up, he was an Arab dragged off of the plane and therefore dangerous in some way.

Dingell came out of the sceening room and was allowed to go on his way. The people watching were probably of the opinion that whatever the problem was, it was discovered and determined to be benign. But had the pilot verified the SS agent's bonafides, does anyone honestly believe that the other passengers would have felt confortable to welcome him back onto the plane? Don't you think that they would've raised a stink? I'd lay money on it.

But who is the real threat -- the person with unknown, bodily-concealed metal or the law enforcement agent?
posted by Dreama at 4:40 AM on January 9, 2002


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