The Washington Post

Even senators get airport pat-downs

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, speaks on Capitol Hill in April. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) issued a statement Monday congratulating the CIA for foiling a plot by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to blow up a U.S.-bound airplane with a bomb similar to one used by the underwear bomber.

Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, noted the latest bomb was “of new design and very difficult to detect by magnetometer.”

The latest incident, she said, was “a reminder why the [Transportation Security Administration] and other security agencies are extremely vigilant on airline security.

And then: “I recently travelled through Dubai and was subjected to three levels of intense security,” Feinstein revealed in the release, “including personal pat-downs of my body.”

A senator getting patted down? A senator who chairs the Senate intel committee? Traveling with a congressional delegation? No diplomatic passport? What is going on here?

As we reported, Feinstein flew to review the situation in Afghanistan about 10 days ago. She flew commercial via Dubai, where, her office tells us, the country’s diligent airport security officials thoroughly screened her.

There were a couple of bag checks before arriving at the airport, we were told, a customs check at the airport, and then another bag check, a pat-down, shoe removal, magnetometers and so forth at the gate.

(What happened to the outrage sparked by that spectacular “Don’t Touch My Junk” warning by airline passenger John Tyner in November 2010 to a TSA screener? Tyner’s cell-phone happily recorded the encounter.)

How do you say “don’t touch my junk” in Arabic?

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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