Originally published March 31 2013
Congressman vows to end the TSA and stop airport tyranny
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) It's been a long time coming and, with the opposition party controlling both the Senate and Executive Branch, there is no guarantee of success, but one congressman is vowing to shutter the abusive Transportation Security Administration and allow airports the right to hire their own customer-friendly private security.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., head of an Oversight and Government Reform Committee sub-panel, has been perhaps the most consistent critic of the TSA. In addition to speaking out against some of the agency's outrageous screening practices, he has also lobbied airports to ditch the agency in lieu of private screeners. Now, he's prepared to take his crusade a step further: He wants to disband the TSA altogether.
Mica says he will soon introduce legislation returning all airport security authority to private firms. In addition, he has stated he is determined to push for up to six hearings this year along to get the bill crafted and to the House floor. What's more, he believes ditching the agency is - or should be - a bipartisan effort.
"I'm telling you, whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or if there are a few independents left, people have had it right up to their eyebrows with TSA," Mica told Bloomberg News. "It's not a partisan issue."
Looking for a little payback?
Admittedly, Mica wrote the legislation establishing the TSA in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but has regretted doing so ever since. He has proclaimed the agency a miserable failure, especially in the past few years. And more recently, the head of the agency, John Pistole, angered Mica even further when he refused to appear before the Florida lawmaker's committee, arrogantly proclaiming at the time that the panel has "no jurisdiction over the TSA."
That was then. The panel Mica now chairs does have jurisdiction over the agency, as well as subpoena power (a power his previous panel lacked), and agency officials have no recourse but to appear if or when the panel requires them to do so.
"I have clear jurisdiction, investigative jurisdiction with subpoena power," Mica said. "I intend to use whatever it takes to get answers to try and change the agency."
Mica said his legislative effort has "strong momentum," and he adds that if passed the measure would return airport screening duties to private companies within two years.
TSA "should not be conducting the screening," he said. "They should be setting the standards, conducting the oversight. TSA should be a security and intelligence agency."
Mica's concept is not radical. Already there are 16 airports using private security companies under the Screening Partnership Program (SPP), and more are considering joining after years of TSA abuses - many of which have been captured on video and have gone viral - as well as passenger complaints.
"It's critical that TSA get out of the business of running a huge bureaucracy and human resources operation and refocus its attention on security, analyzing intelligence, and setting the highest risk-based security standards," Mica - who has written to hundreds of airports encouraging them to opt for private security - has said. "TSA needs to focus on going after terrorists - not little old ladies, veterans and children." Mica has said.
It won't be smooth sailing, but...
Unfortunately, there are other obstacles to the passage of Mica's bill, if or when it reaches the House floor.
A recent Government Accountability Office report, issued in December, noted there was "insufficient evidence to draw any conclusions of improved performance of SPP...when compared to federal screening services" (though I would point out that no videos of outrageous behavior committed by SPP participants have been posted or have gone viral).
That conclusion led Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security committee, to advise the TSA to stop accepting additional SPP applications from airports until further study can be done - a move which has already led to some airports backing away from considering joining the SPP.
Nevertheless, Mica says he will call his first hearing in April to look at the TSA's dubious claim that sequester-forced spending cuts are going to cause longer delays in airports - though the agency just signed a $50 million contract to purchase new uniforms and is continuing to by unreliable but expensive body scanners.
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