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Feelings, nothing more than feelings.

It's almost time to say so long to Argenbright Security, the screeners at Denver International Airport who put such enthusiasm into their work ("Busted!" October 11, 2001).

Last month, the Department of Transportation announced that the federal government would no longer be doing business with Argenbright, an Atlanta-based company that's owned by a British corporation. Among other things, the DOT noted, Argenbright had failed to live up to the terms of a settlement deal with the Department of Justice and had continued to improperly screen prospective employees -- at the same time that workers with criminal records were kept on the job.

For many airports, Argenbright's ban was a moot point, since the newly created Transportation Security Administration technically took over all airline contracts with security companies on February 17. But Denver International Airport doesn't have another security company that can step in and replace Argenbright until federal security screeners get up to speed, so United Airlines' original deal with Argenbright at DIA has been extended.

In the meantime, the DOT has set up an e-mail line -- [email protected] -- for travelers who feel they've been excessively manhandled by security screeners from any company or the federal government; Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta has ordered his department to investigate all allegations. The Arizona attorney general's office recently reported that it received complaints from three dozen woman about airport-security groping, but no such complaints have been received at the Colorado AG's office. Then again, as spokesman Ken Lane points out, that office is set up to take consumer complaints, and the airport allegations involve "sexual assault. That's a criminal activity."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun