Pilot Refuses to Go Through Security, Sent Home

By Jacob Sullum

"I just want to be able to go to work and not be harassed or molested," says Michael Roberts. "I'm just not comfortable being physically manhandled...every time I go to work."

So on Friday, he finally took a stand—against the Transportation Security Administration. Roberts, a first officer for ExpressJet Airlines, refused to submit to a full-body scan at the Memphis International Airport.

He also declined the alternative pat-down. Since the TSA would not let him through the security checkpoint without one or the other, he went home. Later he toldThe Commercial Appeal the TSA is a "make-work" program that does little to enhance the safety of air travel. "I don't believe this approach is a necessary or effective way to mitigate the threat," he says.

The TSA's security theater is especially idiotic in this case. Ostensibly, Roberts was selected for a scan on the off chance that he might be concealing plastic explosives or other nonmetallic weapons beneath his clothing.

But I have to assume that before a guy is hired to fly passengers from city to city, the airline tries to make sure he's not a terrorist. In fact, you would think that not being a terrorist, along with the ability to fly an airplane, would be one of the top qualifications for a job of this sort.

Even if an Al Qaeda sleeper managed to slip onto the payroll, why would he risk smuggling explosives onto a plane when he is already in control of what amounts to a big bomb when properly deployed?

These are just a few of the thoughts that occur to me. But I am not an airline security expert. Or a TSA official.


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