According to an AP Article in the Washington Times, the TSA is apparently considering major changes to its airport security screeing procedures. The changes may even include lifting the ban on carrying razor blades, small knives, scissors, ice picks and bows and arrows, as well as limiting the use of pat-down searches. An internal memorandum dated August 5, 2005 also includes a proposal to only require passengers to remove their shoes if they set off metal detectors, are flagged by a computer screening system or look “reasonably suspicious”. The memo further recommends reducing pat down searches by giving screeners the discretion not to search those wearing tight-fitting clothes and even suggests exempting several categories of passengers from screening, including federal judges, members of Congress, Cabinet members, state governors, high-ranking military officers and those with high-level security clearances.
The memo is in response to a request by the TSA’s new chief, Edmund S. Hawley, for a broad review of the current procedures in hopes of making airline screening more passenger-friendly. Mr. Hawley would need to approve any changes to the existing procedures. According to TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield, “[t]he process is designed to stimulate creative thinking and challenge conventional beliefs,” and “[i]n the end, it will allow us to work smarter and better as we secure America’s transportation system.”
Better late than never, I guess. After all, it has been almost four years since the initial bans were imposed. Of course, right about the time they decide to relax the bans, someone will probably do something stupid with a razor or scissors. In which case the suggested changes would probably remain just that, suggestions. However, considering the difficulty governmental agencies have with removing oppressive regulations, I suppose we should be thankful for any relief, even if it is less than complete. Regardless of the changes, if any, general aviation will remain my preferred mode of transportation.