New Airport Security Law a Safety Hazard?

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - It's called the "Risk-Based Security Screening for Members of Armed Forces Act," just signed into law on Tuesday.

The law creates speeded-up airport security screenings for military members and their accompanying families.

In other words, if the soldier is in uniform and shows official travel orders, they can go to the front of the line and keep their combat boots on and laptops in their carry-on, becoming like trusted travelers.

But after 30-year-old soldier Trey Atwater brought an explosive through Midland International Airport last Saturday, are officials concerned with this law's safety?

"The law wouldn't apply to this guy," U.S. Congressman, Mike Conaway, said. "He wasn't in uniform and he wasn't traveling on orders, and he would have still had to go through the screening process that caught the C-4. All this law really does is it allows TSA to move folks in uniform with orders to the front of the line."

If a case like Atwater's happens again, the law also states that it does not prevent additional security screenings if the authorities deem it necessary.

Under current TSA protocol, soldiers can already go through screenings without removing their footwear, but more ways of expediting screenings are coming with the law.

In a statement sent to NewsWest 9, TSA officials said: "The TSA, in consultation with the [Department of Defense], is reviewing options for implementing procedures that will adhere to the new law."

Airport travelers say they're not concerned with the new law.

"With respect to a single event that happened in an airport in Midland, I think that is unfortunate," Traveler, Ken Scott, said. "I hate that it happened, but I would not let that affect the policy to honor our military."

"Oh no. They're people like everybody else," traveler Windol Lunsford said.

One retired marine told NewsWest 9 he's even heard of cases like Atwater's before and he believes it could have been an accident.

"To my knowledge, it's happened where people have gone to an airport with explosives or pyrotechnics in their 'Go Bags,'" Steven Karribbean said. "To them, it's second nature to have it with them all the time. I could see someone being given an order, 'Hey, it's time to go,' they're just going to go and not even think twice about it."

Officials said expedited screenings don't mean reduced security and they're confident security will do its job.

"First line of defense, even with the expedited law, is TSA," Conaway said. "Clearly, the folks in Midland demonstrated that they're up to the task."