TSA hassles pilot, calls cops

A Southwest Airlines pilot had a run-in with the TSA in Manchester, New Hampshire the other day. 

Southwest pilot John Mcghie was going through the security checkpoint when he got into some kind of argument with the TSA staff. Mcghie said it wasn’t the first time he’s had problems with the blue-shirted crusaders:

Mcghie complained he had difficulty in the past with security at the Manchester aiport and demanded to speak to a supervisor, who only upset Mcghie more, Jones said.

“He felt that the supervisor was condescending and patronizing. He wanted the supervisor’s name but he refused to give it,” Jones said.

The argument escalated from there, but never got more physical than TSA official Bob Harbaugh touching Mcghie’s arm, Jones said.

“At that point Mr. Mcghie told him not to touch him. Mr. Harbaugh became defensive and threatened to call the police,” Jones said.

Police arrived and took accounts from both men.

Keep in mind that TSA agents are required to wear name tags. And they’re required to give their names if a passenger asks. But why should pesky little things like rules and regulations stand in the way of a chance to bully someone?

No charges were filed. Even though TSA-Harbaugh touched Pilot-Mcghie. Contrast this with what happens to a passenger who touches — or simply argues with — the TSA. He/she gets arrested, handcuffed, jailed; e.g., Yukari Miyamae, Andrea Abbott, Carol Jean Price, Nadine Kay Hays, Phyllis Dintenfass, John Brennan, Aaron Tobey.

The TSA, of course, issued its boilerplate response: “A preliminary review of the situation indicates that the officer followed proper screening protocol.”

Pilots (and, soon, flight attendants) are supposed to get special treatment by the TSA. Okay, I understand: a pilot has the biggest weapon of all, as 9/11 proved. So of course stripping and groping pilots in the name of “security” makes no sense (not that it makes sense for the rest of us either).

But with every new, privileged class of people you create, you proclaim that it’s okay if those people get abused, as long as these people don’t. Pre-Check is another example of this (though, predictably, it’s not working). The airlines are pushing Pre-Check; the airlines are complicit in TSA abuse.

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, it was called being a party member. Party members had special privileges that the little people didn’t.

I’d like to know how American citizens, of whatever political stripe, who claim they believe in civil liberties, can defend this system?

Or is it, once again, simply a case of, “Just get me to my flight on time!”?


UPDATE Wed 15 August 2012: The Manchester Union Leader is reporting today that after police reviewed the videotapes, they decided that Harbaugh didn’t assault Mcghie. You can damn well bet that if it were the other way around — if Mcghie had touched Harbaugh — they would be filing charges, as has happened to other people. Once again, the TSA proves it is above the law. And once again, instead of protecting citizens, law enforcement sides with the TSA.

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Kevin Coles)