Taking On the TSA!

Campaign for Liberty has been working toward our goal of abolishing the TSA ever since its obscene, indecent, and inhumane policy of groping and scanning passengers became standard operating procedure in the fall of 2010.

Our fight has more momentum than ever, as a pair of new bills introduced by Senator Rand Paul take on the TSA head on.  The first, S. 3302, establishes a passenger "bill of rights"; the second, S. 3303, would end the TSA's objectionable screening practices and privatize the screening process.

While the text of these bills has yet to be published by the Government Printing Office, this press release from Senator Paul's office on Friday summarizes each:

This week Sen. Rand Paul introduced two pieces of legislation to streamline and rein in the Transportation Security Administration's screening processes and treatment of passengers.

The first piece of legislation, S.3302, establishes a "Bill of Rights" for air travelers, establishes protections for passengers, guidelines for screening procedures, and requires reforms to the air security bureaucracy. This Bill of Rights is listed at the bottom of this release. It also requires 90 percent of unclaimed change left at screening points to be returned to the U.S. Treasury through an incentive program to airports.

The second bill, S.3303, ends the TSA screening program and requires screening of passengers at airports to be conducted by private screeners only.

"Many of TSA's screening procedures simply defy common sense, such as 'enhanced pat-downs' of elderly passengers, young children, or those with disabilities. It seems that every day brings a new account of mistreatment by TSA agents during the screening process. While aviation security is undoubtedly important, we must be diligent in protecting the rights of all Americans, such as their freedom from being subjected to humiliating and intrusive searches by TSA agents, especially when there is no obvious cause," Sen. Paul said.

"It is important that the rules and boundaries of our airport screening process be transparent and easily available to travelers so that proper restraints are in place on screeners. Travelers should be empowered with the knowledge necessary to protect themselves from a violation of their rights and dignity," he continued.

Among the 17 minimum rights laid out in the passenger Bill of Rights: 

  • A TSA screener "opt-out" for airports, allowing them access to the Screening Partnership Program (SPP) and private screeners;
  • A one-year deadline to implement a screening process for pre-cleared frequent-flyers at all airports with more than 250,000 annual flights;
  • Authority to permit travelers who fail to pass imaging or metal detector screening to choose to be re-screened rather than subjected to an automatic pat-down;
  • Expansion of canine screening at airports, a more effective and less invasive method of screening passengers for explosives, as well as a strong deterrent;
  • Eliminating unnecessary pat-downs for children 12 years of age or under;
  • Right of parents to stay with their children during the screening process;
  • Guaranteeing a traveler's right to request a pat-down using only the back of the hand;
  • Protection of a traveler's right to appropriately object to mistreatment by screeners;
  • Protection of a traveler's right to decline a backscatter X-ray scan, a screening method with potentially harmful health effects;
  • Protection of a traveler's right to contact an attorney if detained or removed from screening;

The bill would require these and other reforms be collected into a single Bill of Rights to be distributed by TSA at airports and placed on TSA's public website.

We'll update the post as soon as the bill text becomes available.

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