Representative Steve Southerland II

18 Jul

At long last there is further communication from someone!  Without further ado I present the letter from Representative Steve Southerland II:

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for contacting our office regarding aviation security, specifically the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  I value your input on this important topic and appreciate the opportunity to respond.

As you know, our nation’s air transportation system is designed to maximize accessibility and efficiency, two characteristics that make it highly vulnerable to terrorist attack.  While protecting the U.S. transportation sector from terrorist attack is difficult, measures can and must be taken to protect Americans in the air.

However, in working to construct and finance a system of deterrence, protection, and response that effectively reduces the possibility of another terrorist attack, we must do so without unduly interfering with travel, commerce, and civil liberties.  Like you, I am concerned about recent reports of intrusive pat-downs and privatization of security operations at our airports.

You may be interested to know, on March 31, 2011, Representative Jason Chaffez (R-UT) introduced H.R. 1279, the Aircraft Passenger Whole-Body Imaging Limitations Act of 2011. This legislation would prohibit the use of advanced technology as a method of screening a passenger unless: (1) the National Academy of Sciences determines the technology does not pose a threat to public health; (2) the technology is equipped with a privacy filter or other privacy-protecting technology; and (3) another method of screening, such as metal detection, explosive trace detection, or behavioral profiling, demonstrates reasonable cause for using advanced imaging technology to detect a possible threat to aviation security.

Additionally, it would require that passengers: (1) be provided information on the operation of such technology, including privacy policies and the right to request a pat-down search; and (2) be offered such a pat-down search in lieu of such screening.

Finally, it would prohibit the storage, transfer, sharing, or copying in any form of an image of a passenger generated by advanced imaging technology after a boarding determination is made.  While this legislation currently awaits further consideration by the House Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees, should it reach the floor, I intend on supporting it along with any other legislation which ensures safe air travel while protecting civil liberties.

What’s more, in light of several recent operational failures on the part of TSA, Congressional leaders have requested an Inspector General investigate the security performance of the agency to ensure optimal efficiency and effectiveness.  As a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Aviation, I have a vested interest in these ongoing proceedings.

Please know, I will continue to work with my Congressional colleagues to advance legislation that ensures passenger safety, while respecting our civil liberties.  I will be sure to keep your views in mind should Congress consider issues related to aviation security in the future.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.  I am humbled and honored you have afforded me the opportunity to represent you in the United States House of Representatives.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about issues of importance to you.  Feel free to visit my Congressional website at or contact our office with any future concerns.

What are everyone’s thoughts on this?  It seems like a step in the right direction at least.


6 year old receives a full body pat down

10 Apr

Recently there was a video of a six year old which has been removed but is discussed here

It’s the TSA policy of looking for weapons and not terrorists coupled with the complete lack of constitutional restraint of their workers that’s the problem.

I couldn’t agree more.

TSA and kids

10 Apr

Here is another article about TSA and their “modified” pat down of children.  Here is the father’s recount:

“He was pleading for me to help him and I was admonished for trying to comfort him,” the comment on the blog states. “His genitals area was groped. He walked down to the plane in tears.”

WBTV invited TSA to comment and reports the following

The TSA issued the following statement to WBTV on Wednesday night:

“Officers are trained to work with parents to insure a respectful screening process for the entire family while providing the best possible security for all travelers.”

But that statement didn’t answer our main question, which was are TSA workers allowed to pat down children even to the point of touching their private parts.

We asked the TSA on Thursday night if they would be more specific.  They sent us back the exact same sentence, but then added this second sentence.

“After a thorough risk assessment and after hearing concerns from parents, we made the decision that a modified pat down would be used for children 12 years old and under who require extra screening.”

We emailed back to ask what exactly “modified” meant but Jon Allen with the TSA replied, “I can’t discuss specifics of a security procedure such as a pat down.”

This is the typical non answer that we’ve been seeing from this agency and politicians in general.  We need to remain insistent and ask them to be specific about their plans and intentions.


Senator Nelson responds again

10 Apr

Apparently he is getting caught up on his email since I’ve been emailing weekly for some time now.

Thank you for contacting me about the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) new enhanced screening and “pat down” procedures.
I understand your concern that these procedures are too invasive.  That’s why I cosponsored an amendment to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Reauthorization Act that would make it a Federal crime to photograph or distribute any image collected from an airport scanner.  This would protect passengers from rogue security agents, reporters, and other passengers with malicious intent.  This amendment passed on February 15 by a vote of 98-0.  The Senate passed the FAA bill on February 17; it now goes to the House of Representatives.
While I was pleased to hear Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announce that the TSA will review these procedures and make changes as necessary, stopping terrorists remains the ultimate goal.
I will keep your views in mind whenever this and related issues come before the Senate.  Thank you again for taking the time to contact my office, and please do not hesitate to do so in the future.
Senator Bill Nelson

Honest mistake? You decide.

17 Mar

Apparently TSA’s nude body scanners have been at about TEN TIMES the amount of radiation TSA initially reported according to USA Today.  That is while working properly.   From the article:

Peter Rez, a physics professor at Arizona State University, said Friday he wanted to scrutinize the 2,000 pages of reports the TSA posted. He has expressed concerns about the potential for the scanners to break and the importance of proper maintenance and monitoring.

“Mechanical things break down,” Rez told USA TODAY in December. Rez also has voiced fears about the potential for a passenger to get an excessive dose of radiation or even a radiation burn if the X-ray scanning beam were to malfunction and stop on one part of a person’s body for an extended period of time.

He said Friday that the contractor mistakes TSA identified only heighten his concerns.

“What happens in times of failure, when they can give very, very high radiation doses. I’m totally unconvinced they have thought that through,” Rez said of the TSA. “I just see a large, bumbling bureaucracy. Of course it’s not very reassuring.”

Not very reassuring at all.  So if TSA is so careless with our security on these important matters why are we entrusting them more by giving up our rights?

Senator Nelson responds

11 Mar
Dear Mrs. <misspelled name>:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act.
On February 15, I voted for a bill to extend expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act through the end of 2011.  The bill passed 86-12 and President Obama signed it into law on February 25.
I strongly believe that while we must remain vigilant in our fight against terrorism by equipping law enforcement officials with the necessary tools, we also must safeguard the civil liberties of law-abiding citizens.  I appreciate your concerns and will keep them in mind as Congress continues to debate how best to protect our country from terrorism.
Thank you again for contacting me and please do not hesitate to do so in the future.
Senator Bill Nelson

DEcreased security?

9 Mar

So apparently if you go through the scanner they’ll be too distracted to see your GUN

Testing is common according to the story.  TSA did comment that their agents are among the most heavily tested.  I don’t know why they bother however if they are not going to discipline, retrain, suspend, fire or otherwise react when agents fail the test NUMEROUS times.

TSA also reiterates that the advanced imaging allows them to see ceramic weapons as well as metallic.  This is pretty much the way they respond to every complaint.  In fact all of my letters to them have received this information as a response regardless of content.  This agency is nothing more than a money guzzling smoke and mirrors charade.  Security is NOT better.  They’ve done nothing more than to violate our rights and increase costs.