TSA Claims Congress Has No Jurisdiction Over It

A hearing scheduled for Thursday by the Subcommittee on Aviation, which is a part of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (TIC), had an open invitation to agency head John Pistole to attend to discuss how best to improve our nation’s airport passenger security system through common sense solutions. Pistole refused the invitation claiming that the Congressional Committee has “no jurisdiction of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).”

According to a brief titled How best to improve our nation’s airport passenger security system through common sense solutions, submitted by Subcommittee Chairman Thomas Petri (R-WI):

The purpose of this hearing is to examine the impact that the regulations and policies of the Transportation Security Administration have on aviation passenger experience and the free flow of aviation commerce. The subcommittee will hear from government, industry, and labor witnesses on their observations and suggestions on TSA’s policies.

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While Pistole was invited to attend, he is declining and issued a statement via the TSA website:

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By U.S. House of Representatives rules which state that the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has no jurisdiction over the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), no representative from TSA will be present at the Subcommittee on Aviation hearing scheduled for Nov. 29.

TSA will continue to work with its committees of jurisdiction to pursue effective and efficient security solutions. In the 112th Congress alone, TSA witnesses have testified at 38 hearings and provided 425 briefings for Members of Congress.

TSA also continues to work to enhance security screening measures and to improve the passenger experience including through the expansion of TSA Pre✓™. As part of its risk-based security initiatives, TSA has modified screening procedures for passengers 12 and under and 75 and older while pursuing a multi-layered approach to security that includes behavior detection officers, explosives-detection systems and federal air marshals, among other measures both seen and unseen.

John S. Pistole is the Administrator of the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

TIC’s own website cites numerous areas of reform that are needed concerning the TSA. They list the following:

  • TSA Waste in Procuring, Deploying and Storing Screening Equipment and Technology
  • Passenger Screening Reform — Private-Federal Screening Model Is More Efficient & Cost-Effective, and Could Save Taxpayers $1 Billion
  • A Decade of Costly TSA Missteps
  • TSA Wastes Over $200 Million Every Year on Flawed Behavior Detection Program
  • TSA Has Failed to Approve Biometric Technology for Pilots or Port Workers

Chairman John L. Mica states, “Unfortunately, TSA has lost its way. TSA must become the kind of agency it was intended to be – a thinking, risk-based, flexible agency that analyzes risks, sets security standards and audits security performance.”

I disagree. Personally, TSA should be dismantled and airports should provide their own security. That way, there would be no question about violation of the Constitution, government reform or any of the other mess spelled out on the site. It would be privately run and would actually have to be accountable to both the public, as well as, the airport. They would not be some rogue, unionized federal workers who seem to be virtually immune from serious consequences to their actions.

Pennsylvania’s Representative Bill Shuster, who many believe will head up TIC in the new Congress, believed that TSA officials should “absolutely” show up for the committee hearings. When asked if he though TIC had oversight over the TSA, Shuster replied, “I don’t think we have direct jurisdiction but when they impede commerce, when they impede the traveling public, they need to answer to the committee.”

Obviously something needs to be done. Reform is not what needs to be presented, but abolishment. Like all government agencies, I suppose we can expect that TSA will not go quietly into the night. I realize this makes many uncomfortable, but ask yourself this, do you want the federal government’s TSA workers (who have a terrible track record when it comes to ethics) violating your rights to travel or would you much rather have a private security firm responsible for airport security? I know which one is Constitutional and which one I would rather deal with.

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