Does the Arizona Tragedy Mean that Members of Congress Should Be…. Exempt from Airport Security?

Former House Majority Whip and current Assistant House Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn has perhaps the strangest take on the recent tragic shooting of several people in Arizona including a Member of Congress, Judge, and young girl.

He believes it means that the TSA should give special treatment to Members of Congres at airports.

A top House Democrat said the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) should change how members of Congress are screened at airports.

“I really believe that that is the place where we feel the most ill at ease, is going through airports,” Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who serves as assistant minority leader in the House, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

.. “We’ve had some incidents where TSA authorities think that congresspeople should be treated like everybody else,” he said. “Well, the fact of the matter is, we are held to a higher standard in so many other areas, and I think we need to take a hard look at exactly how the TSA interact with members of Congress.”

Naturally much of the commentary that I’ve seen on the incident has been contrived, and self-serving. But I thought this one was particularly special.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Rep. Clyburn, I would say that we all feel ill at ease being groped and scoped at the airport, but a shooting at an event at a Safeway does not translate in any way shape or form into relaxed screening at an airport.

  2. If you’re talking about the Speaker of the House, or someone of that stature who has a government security detail, I can see letting them pass through some kind of lesser screening. But this guy is just being ridiculous.

  3. I think Congresspeople should especially be exempt from airport security when traveling to Guam, because of the likelihood of that island’s turning over from the increased weight of security personnel.

  4. He feels ‘ill at ease’ in airports? I’d venture to say the security there is tighter than in the House office buildings.

    I’ve sat beside Rep. Clyburn on a few flights. He does like his perks.

  5. Absolutely NOT – that congressmen or women be exempt from screening at airports. If they are required, as are we, to experience the full joy and love of an intense patdown, then perhaps they will realize the absurdity of it and do something to change the present circumstances for all travelers subject to patdown. And then to equate it to the recent tragedy in Arizona… shame on Clyburn.

  6. This seems pretty reasonable to me. I’ve read countless security experts talk about the fact that an airport security line is a perfect terrorist target. If he’s feeling threatened on the airside of security, then he’s crazy, but if he’s talking about not wanting to be a sitting duck in the same place and same time every weekend when he flies home, then I think he’s being pretty reasonable.

  7. Mike said “I’ve read countless security experts talk about the fact that an airport security line is a perfect terrorist target.”

    Give me a break. If it were a perfect terrorist target, it would have been hit. what about grocery stores? should congressment avoid shopping? going outside? going to work? This kind of hyperbole just spreads the fear mongering myth that we are being targeted for attack everywhere. Think for a minute – it’s not like he has security everywhere he goes. Maybe mike’s post was sarcasm and I just didn’t get it.

  8. There are a good number of Congressmen that have been arrested for felonies… they need to be screened like everyone else.

  9. I esp enjoy that now I can get my right-wing noise machine chatter on this blog too, that its just not about the stupid dog and poney showes put on by the travel industry but an eager part of the wing-nut right. Great makes me want to visit even more often, maybe it will go the way of FW and loose even more traffic?

  10. Gary,

    Apparently questioning the super-specialness of congressmen was too much for “hello” and means you are a right wing extremist. Try to tone down the hate and vitriol that you spew on this highly partisan blog. That said, public office, like every other part of life involves risks and benefits. Look at the school board shooting down in Florida. Should we exempt school board members from TSA security theater also?

  11. Are congressmen and women really being actively targeted? Speaking of fear mongering; you’d think they were being picked off one at a time. I’d venture a guess that they’re not involved in any greater perceived danger than any other public figure.

  12. Is it possible that he was saying that Congressmen should be allowed to carry guns on planes, since they have higher self-defense needs? I don’t have much problem with that: if the terrorists manage to get one of their own elected to Congress, then we’ve got bigger problems than a single hijacking. But, of course, you need exemption from more than just the enhanced rub-down to make that work.

  13. Clyburn is an absolute moron! Our fine leaders in congress should get the full monte when they fly and see what the rest of use ‘little people’ have to go through on a daily basis. If this was the case, the security theatre and rub downs would stop very quickly.

  14. What the tragedy means is that if we choose not to deal with the mentally ill we do need to ban guns. If I have to be gate raped, those that made the policy should be too.

  15. Re: my prior comment

    Congressmembers and Seantors DO receive threats on a regular basis (according to a story on NPR this week). I do not want to diminish the seriousness or reality of the problem. I just don’t think the airport (prticularly security) is any more likely a target location than any other location.

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