Dear Chairman Thompson and Ranking Member King,
We call your attention to concerns raised by our constituents about new airplane passenger searches that have federal security personnel and travelers feeling angered, apprehensive, and justifiably mistrustful, and urge the House Homeland Security Committee to examine screening procedures during the forthcoming session of Congress.
Under new guidelines established by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), passengers at some airports are subjected to a full body scan, or a physical pat-down by a TSA employee. The full body scan, which emits a small dosage of radiation, has generated worries about the effects on personal health. Others note that the scan amounts to a "virtual strip search" and an invasion of privacy in violation of Constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. There is widespread skepticism that these enhanced searches only seemed to outrage the public and produce an ostensible gain in security.
All of us recognize the need for enhanced security guidelines that keep the skies safe for travel. And while TSA has instituted these new guidelines to protect passengers in the wake of warnings and near-miss terrorist attacks aboard airplanes, there must be an assurance that these precautionary measures are the legitimate methods needed to discover previously undetectable threats or explosives.
To reassure Americans that TSA's operations are not invasive, excessive, or superfluous, Congress should execute its oversight responsibilities, investigate claims of Constitutional violations, and produce recommendations for restoring trust between the public and the TSA. By examining this issue closely, your committee can determine whether these enhanced procedures are in fact making airline travel safer. We look forward to working with you on these issues and please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of further assistance.
Tim Murphy Bob Filner
Member of Congress Member of Congress