Last week during a radio broadcast in Texas, GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul proposed getting rid of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration's security officers who have been abusing and harassing American citizens.
Paul, a veteran U.S. Congressman, joins a growing number of lawmakers and security experts who believe the TSA security officers are no better -- perhaps worse -- than the private security company guards who worked at the nation's airports prior to the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent creation of the Homeland Security Department.
During the radio show "Texas Straight Talk," Rep. Paul told listeners that the latest horror stories of a 95-year-old woman who was forced to remove her adult diaper and an eight-month-old baby's diaper who was inspected showed the TSA was out of control.
"The press reports are horrifying," Paul said. "Ninety-five-year-old women humiliated, children molested, disabled people abused. Men and women subjected to unwarranted groping and touching of their most private areas, and involuntary radiation exposure."
“If the perpetrators were a gang of criminals, their headquarters would be raided by SWAT teams and armed federal agents," he said. "Unfortunately in this case, the perpetrators are armed federal agents."
Paul promised that he would introduce a bill that he claimed would force TSA employees to follow existing laws and regulation against unreasonable search procedures used by security officers at U.S. airports..
Paul's statements mirrored the criticisms of the TSA officers by his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who lambasted the TSA in a recent Senate committee meeting.
The freshman Senator said reports that TSA had frisked children made him feel less safe.
"It makes me think you’re clueless, if you think she’s going to attack our country ... you’re not doing your research on the people who want to attack our country," he said.
There's been growing anger regarding allegations that TSA screeners have conducted inappropriate pat downs of airline passengers.
In addition to Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. John Mica, a top Republican congressman, on transportation safety and security issues blasted the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for its federal workforce of airport screeners or Transportation Security Officers (TSOs).
Representative John Mica (R-FL) stated that the TSA bureaucracy could save up to $1 billion over five years by switching to airport security personnel employed by private contractors at the nation’s top 35 airports.
Mica is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees the TSA’s budget and operations. He told fellow members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that having contract security personnel supervised by federal security directors and supervisors would be more cost-effective and a model that has worked in many industries including nuclear power plants and other critical locations.
Last week, the House voted to cut the TSA’s budget for the next fiscal year by $270 million, and TSA officials and union leaders warned that airline security is likely to suffer, but Mica said the additional funding is unnecessary if private screeners are used more widely.
"Right after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, lawmakers and the media began a campaign to revamp airport security programs by replacing contract agency guards with federal employees. While the idea seemed plausible at the time, what eventually occurred was counterproductive," stated former police officer Edie Quinones.
Security guards from agencies -- who many believed contributed to the 9-11 plane hijackings -- were quickly hired because they were the only ones with airport screening experience and knowledge of high-tech screening equipment.
"What we witnessed were security officers who failed to protect the airlines being hired by the federal government with better pay and more employee benefits including membership in a federal employees union," said former NYPD detective and security firm owner Sid Franes.
A report released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee compared the cost and performance of private screeners at San Francisco International Airport with the federal screeners at Los Angeles International Airport.
The report showed that it costs an average of $2.42 to screen a passenger using private contractors but $4.22 per passenger for the federal workforce.
The contracted screeners in San Francisco processed an average of 16,113 passengers per year while federal screeners in Los Angeles processed an average of only 9,765 passengers per year, according to the report.
Training expenses were also cheaper with a contracted workforce, who required less than half the $17,652 it takes to train a federal security officer.
Mica also accused the TSA of deception. He claimed, “TSA cooked the books when conducting past cost comparisons of the two models, misleading Congress and the public by artificially inflating the costs to use private contract screeners.”
The House committee’s report claims that private screeners are 65 percent more efficient and would save taxpayers 42 percent of the current costs compared with the federal workforce at airports.
State Law Opposing TSA
The Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed HB1937 138-0 on Friday evening. Introduced in March by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longwood), the legislation would make it a state offense for any public servant to touch a person’s private areas, or touch them in a way a reasonable person would consider offensive, as a condition of travel or entering a public building.
“Groping innocent citizens does little to enhance security, but it does much to reduce our freedom and dignity,” Simpson said. “Freedom brings people together. This is not about Republicans or Democrats, but about the dignity of every man, women, boy or girl, and their freedom to travel without being treated as a criminal suspect.”
The legislation now moves on to the Texas Senate where Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) will sponsor the bill.
The TSA responded in a statement on its blog, insisting it has the right to perform Fourth Amendment violating searches based on the supremacy clause in the Constitution.
“What’s our take on the Texas House of Representatives voting to ban the current TSA pat-down? Well, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article. VI. Clause 2) prevents states from regulating the federal government.”
But Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin called the TSA statement an intentional deception.
“The problem here? The statement is false. TSA ignorance is unlikely, so I’ll call a spade a spade. They’re lying,” he said. “Notice there’s not one single word in the actual text that says anything about states regulating the federal government, as the TSA claims. They’re just making things up as they go,” Bolden said.
In fact, the supremacy clause reads:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States shall be the supreme Law of the Land.
“Do federal laws passed and enforced in accordance with the powers granted in the Constitution supersede state laws? Absolutely. But to make that point and then insist that the federal government can enforce any old law it sees fit in any way it wants to, even laws that violate the Bill of Rights – that’s patently ridiculous,” TAC communications director Mike Maharrey said.
“By definition, an unconstitutional act is illegal. How can anybody assert an illegal act is superior to a valid state law?” he asked rhetorically.