Amid news reports detailing "invasive" security procedures including the physical pat-downs of children, U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) is urging Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole to "continue developing procedures that will both protect the safety and health and dignity of airline passengers."
"We all agree that securing our airports and those flying is a critical aspect of our homeland security efforts. However, those same security efforts should not serve as an assault on the personal dignity of passengers. There is a balance that can and must be struck to ensuring our aviation network is secure without compromising the values for which our nation was founded," said LoBiondo, a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee.
Full text of the letter sent to TSA Administrator Pistole late last week is as follows:
Dear Administrator Pistole:
I am writing to express my serious concerns about the new screening policies and how those policies are being executed by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel at airports throughout the Nation.
Under the new guidelines established by TSA, passengers are subject to a mechanical full body scan, or a physical pat-down. The full body scan has created some worries about the negative on individuals' health due to the small amount of radiation utilized. There are also serious concerns that the scan amounts to a "virtual strip search" -- an invasion of privacy and an assault on personal dignity. While I am pleased that TSA has taken steps to address these concerns, such as separating the viewer of the scan images from the actual person being viewed and blurring sensitive "personal" areas on the images, I urge you to continue developing procedures that will both protect the safety and health and dignity of airline passengers.
I am sure you are acutely aware of the widespread skepticism and public outrage these policies are generating. While I fully recognize the need for enhanced security guidelines to maintain the safety of the airways and the fact that TSA instituted these new guidelines to protect passengers, commonsense must be part of the security equation. As a father and grandfather, I was particularly disturbed by the video of a three year old child being patted down by a TSA agent while the child screamed and cried in the arms of her mother. Surely, clarification and refinement of the guidelines must be undertaken, as well as enhanced or remedial training for TSA agents.