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 athttp://southerland.house.gov 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.

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2 Responses to “Representative Steve Southerland II”

  1. micandidatocorrecto July 18, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    Finally we have an answer to this issue. I would like to know how are they gonna clasify the people for the screening.

    • writingformyrights July 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

      I noticed he mentions bahavioral profiling. Hopefully we can take a tip from other countries who are experienced in this and realize that not all profiling is “racial”. This is not the 1950’s and I feel confident that my country can train and educate people to look at behaviors. This may mean that TSA agents will need higher education but with so many degreed people out of work I think that shouldn’t be a problem.

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