Editorials

We give former Gov. Haley Barbour and the TSA the side-eye

The Augusta Chronicle

On Jan. 22, a Chesterfield County, Virginia, woman attempted to carry a loaded handgun on a plane at Richmond International Airport. The gun was detected by X-ray, airport police were notified, she was arrested and her handgun confiscated. We know this because the Transportation Security Administration sent out a news release on the incident the next day.

In early January, a Texas Tech student was in the Houston airport security line when she saw a fellow Red Raider and gave the school’s “finger gun” salute. A Transportation Security Administration officer saw it, pulled her out of line, patted her down, checked her baggage, ran her identification cards through its database and warned her not to horse around in an airport.

We know this only because she tweeted:

“In the airport security line and I see someone wearing a Texas Tech hoodie and I look at them and do the gun hand signal because wreck em amiright

“tsa is now pulling me aside to talk to me :((”

Wednesday morning a lieutenant with the Columbus (Ohio) Regional Airport Authority Police Department forgot he left his handgun in his laptop bag as he tried to go through airport security. We know this because reporters followed up on a TSA press release that didn’t mention the man’s affiliation with the police. He apparently wasn’t arrested.

Before any of this happened, a man was arrested at the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport after a loaded handgun was found in his briefcase. We know that man was former Gov. Haley Barbour because someone at TSA was fed up with the shenanagins at the agency and tipped off the Hattiesburg Patriot blog, which reported the arrest after receiving an email in response to its records request. It had asked for all emails, video, audio and communications. It got two emails. Another person tipped off the AP.

We asked the TSA media office for some clarification about what went out but received no response.

Cue the rumor mill. Every time a government agency is less than forthcoming, people are free to believe the worst. You have to wonder what went on at that security checkpoint that set the employee off.

Barbour says he was treated just like anyone else. Really? He wasn’t treated like the Colorado lawmaker who just a few weeks before Barbour’s arrest was taken to jail in Denver after trying to board a plane with an unloaded gun.

Barbour, on the other hand, was allowed to catch his flight.

We don’t know which erodes public trust the most: Agencies that treat public servants like big shots, or the privileged public servant who insists he/she is treated just like a regular Joe/Jill.

We like the TSA. They have done a commendable job keeping commercial flights safe from terrorists and assorted miscreants.

We’d like them even more if they came clean about what transpired the morning of Jan. 2 at the checkpoint X-ray machine at Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

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