(WASHINGTON)—The Transportation Security Officers who randomly selected Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, for additional screening were acting according to TSA procedures and any suggestion otherwise is an insult to the entire TSA workforce, the American Federation of Government Employees said today. AFGE is the union representing TSOs across the country and at Salt Lake International Airport, where the incident occurred.
“Congressman Chaffetz was treated as any other passenger,” AFGE Membership and Organization Director Sharon Pinnock said. “The TSO who administered the pat down had just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, and did not recognize the freshman congressman. Furthermore, the screening TSO was partnered with a TSA Supervisory Job Monitor who ensured procedures were properly followed.”
Chaffetz additionally chose to use the optional Image Testing Machine lane, which he could have avoided completely and used a lane where traditional metal detectors are used as the primary method of screening. TSA is piloting imaging technology in select airports, including Salt Lake International. Chaffetz, coincidentally, has sponsored a bill banning the use of body image machines.
“It does seem odd that Congressman Chaffetz would choose to use an image machine that he would like to see banned,” Pinnock said. “We are hard-pressed to understand his thinking on this since he previously had been given a tour of the ITM lane to this incident and knew quite well what the process could involve.
“These TSOs involved should be heralded for doing their jobs, not admonished for following procedures,” Pinnock added. “TSOs do not set the rules for passenger screening—they are there to enforce the rules.”
AFGE has been the only union to represent TSA employees since the agency's inception and with more than 11,000 members in 34 Locals across the country, is widely recognized as the TSA union.