Who is exempt from airport security?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who is exempt

Increased scrutiny of airport security is raising questions about which public officials must endure the stepped-up security procedures. Here's a review of who can and cannot bypass airport security, according to the Transportation Security Administration and congressional and Obama administration aides.

Members of Congress: Congressional leaders traveling with a security detail (the speaker of the House, the House minority leader, the Senate majority leader, etc.) are allowed to bypass security checkpoints when flying on commercial jets, according to the TSA. All other members of Congress are expected to stand in line and wait.

Other government officials: President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Cabinet secretaries who travel on government aircraft or with security details (Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates) do not pass through security checkpoints before flying. Cabinet secretaries who use commercial aviation and travel with bodyguards may bypass security, according to TSA. Cabinet secretaries traveling without protection and other senior government officials flying commercial must be screened.

Other dignitaries: Former presidents flying commercial with Secret Service agents and some foreign ambassadors also traveling with guards are exempt from screening, according to the TSA and congressional aides.

Members of the military: Members of the military traveling in uniform must pass through security checkpoints but are not required to remove footwear unless it sets off a metal detector, according to the TSA. The agency also allows airlines to issue special-access passes to military family members who are not flying but want to say goodbye or greet a loved one at the gate.

Law enforcement officers: State, local and tribal police officers who must fly with a firearm have to obtain an identifier code from the TSA before flying. The officer must present the code and law enforcement credentials before passing through security.

- Ed O'Keefe

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