I hear that the Aviation Operations, Safety and Security senate subcommittee is holding a TSA oversight hearing tomorrow [edit: now today - call or write right away if you want them to hear]. Please speak out on behalf of me and your other constituents against the extremely invasive screenings/pat-downs being implemented by the TSA.
I have 3 major objections to the TSA's current procedures: they're unclear, invasive and don't work.
I flew out to Seattle this past weekend, and before I did, I tried my best to do research on the new procedures. All the stories/articles online suggested the TSA could invoke any arbitrary procedures they wanted, invent penalties on the spot and were inclined to use invasive searches as retaliation for anyone who asked questions about the new system. When I went to the TSA website to find out what the actual rules were, I could find almost nothing. There was a partial list of items allowed/disallowed in carry on bags and a few pieces of contact information if I wanted to report bad behavior. There was *no* sign of what screening procedures were in place, what the TSA was allowed to do, or what my rights as a passenger/citizen were. I never found a list of airports using the new invasive screeners, though I hear an out of date one does exist.
As far as invasive goes, I find it completely unacceptable that as a condition of flight I must either submit to an electronic strip search with unverified radiation risks or physical assault in the form of an excessive and retaliatory physical search. My understanding is that the searches used at most prisons are significantly less invasive. I know this sounds inflammatory. That's because I feel very strongly on the issue. I'm not only upset on my own behalf - multiple friends of mine are no longer willing to fly because of actions like these, including ones who've suffered assault in the past and fear being unable to control their reaction. Beyond my personal upset, the
situation appears to be begging for cases of child porn and abuse, completely unverifiable cases of assault under the guise of security, and a high likelihood of naked pictures escaping the machines (though it's claimed this is impossible, it's already happened with the machines in a Florida courthouse. The technology is *far* from invulnerable, despite TSA claims)
In terms of effectiveness, multiple security experts, including Israeli airport security personnel and Bruce Schneier have pointed out that the backscatter machines in particular do not work. They're ineffective even at the specific limited set of cases they're meant to catch. They slow down the security system, divert money from effective terror prevention strategies, and at best lull people into a false sense of security.
Once again, I'm asking you to please speak out, create new directives and pass bills if necessary revising our national airport security systems to rely on effective, proven methods, rather than wasting millions of dollars on offensive invasions of privacy that do nothing to increase our security. Thank you very much for your time.