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Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2012--Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. AMASH. Mr. Chairman, I offer this amendment on behalf of the distinguished gentleman from Utah (Mr. Chaffetz). My constituents and I share the concerns of the distinguished gentleman from Utah and his constituents and millions of Americans regarding the use of advanced imaging technology machines, also known as full body scanners, at airports.

We are concerned not only about the efficacy and safety of such machines, but also about the serious violations of privacy and our rights as protected by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution resulting from the government's use of such machines. It is in that spirit that I offer this amendment.

I ask my colleagues for your support.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. AMASH. Mr. Chairman, I again offer this amendment on behalf of the distinguished gentleman from Utah (Mr. Chaffetz).

As I mentioned previously, millions of Americans have serious concerns regarding the use of advanced imaging technology machines, also known as full body scanners, at airports. In light of our serious concerns about efficacy, safety, and privacy, and the violation to our liberty, we ask that these machines not be funded for use as mandatory or primary screening devices. I ask my colleagues for your support.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. AMASH. My amendment prohibits political meddling in the Department's compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, commonly known as FOIA.

FOIA gives citizens the right to know what their government is doing. As President Obama stated shortly after taking office, ``In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act, which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government.''

Countless instances of waste, fraud, and abuse have been exposed by using FOIA. In September 2009, political appointees in DHS implemented an unprecedented policy to review FOIA requests and documents proposed to be released.

The current DHS political review process of FOIA is extraordinary. Chairman Issa and Senator Grassley wrote to 29 offices of inspectors general to request that they determine whether and to what extent political appointees have a role in responding to FOIA requests. According to the IGs surveyed, the level of involvement of DHS's political staff in the FOIA response process is uniquely high.

While it is the case that political staff at a very small number of agencies have prior notice of newsworthy releases, at no other agency do front office staff have the opportunity to withhold or otherwise delay such releases to avoid embarrassment or for political reasons.

FOIA is vital to our democracy. It is the most powerful single tool citizens and the press have to discover what our government is doing. And the law has a long track record of exposing corruption and inefficiency to improve government for all Americans.

My amendment protects FOIA from politicization at DHS. It prohibits DHS political appointees from improperly blocking the release of FOIA documents. My amendment allows DHS political appointees to continually be aware of FOIA requests in documents proposed to be released, but it prevents the political appointees from interfering with the public's right to know.

I ask for your support.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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