Archive for May 10th, 2012

Is the problem with the TSA the leader? Or the concept?

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Rep. Paul Broun, MD, a Georgia Republican member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has called for the resignation of the Administrator of  the TSA, John Pistole.

We agree with Rep. Broun that “The time has come for serious action to be taken” with respect to the TSA, that “drastic change” is required, and that, “The time for that change is now.” And we agree that those at the top as well as the bottom of the bureaucratic hierarchy need to be held accountable.

Most of all, we’re pleased to see Rep. Broun put civil liberties first in his letter to TSA Administrator Pistole requesting his immediate resignation:

Americans can no longer tolerate the flagrant violations of their civil rights which are occurring at airports nationwide in the name of “security.”

Pistole’s resignation, now or later, would accomplish nothing unless Senators ask more serious questions (we have a few suggestions) before confirming a new TSA Administrator.

As long as the TSA is allowed to wield power over the people (and our exercise of our right to travel)) through secret, extra-judicial administrative fiat, airports and other transportation facilities will remain the domestic counterpart of Guantanamo: law-free zones in which even the most friendly-faced and “respectful” leadership can do little to change the essential illegality of the agency’s operations.

More is required, we think, than another turn of the revolving door on the office of the TSA Administrator.  If the TSA is retained, it needs to be brought within the rule of law.  We have some specific suggestions for interim reform of the TSA’s policies and practices, not just its personalities. But fundamentally, we agree with participants in the White House’s own public poll, whose first choice of requested actions for the President was to abolish the TSA entirely.