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News Link • Transportation

U.S. Spies Probably Won’t Blow Up Our Airplanes, TSA Concludes

• Noah Shachtman via
  For years, America’s spies had to take off their shoes before they got on planes, just like the rest of us. No more. The Transportation Security Administration has quietly enrolled government employees at three of the nation’s intelligence agencies in a program that allows them to pass through airport security with less hassle.

It’s part of a larger push by TSA chief John Pistole to move away from the brain-dead, one-size-fits-all mindset that treats all passengers as equally likely terror risks. That effort is still very much a work in progress; just last month, for example, a female flier was groped by a TSA screener — so she groped back, and was promptly arrested.

Still, there are signs of sanity emerging. Kids are no longer subject to pat-downs. And certain elite members of frequent flier programs from American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, U.S. Airways, and Alaska Airlines can keep their shoes on and their laptops inside their bags at 19 airports. Two million passengers have now gone through the so-called “pre check” program, since it was begun last year. The logic is that these people fly all the time, and have given their personal information to the airlines. That makes them rather unlikely terrorists.

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