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Transportation Government Republicans Security United States Politics

Sen. Rand Paul Introduces TSA Reform Legislation 585

OverTheGeicoE writes "Over a month after Sen. Rand Paul announced his desire to pull the plug on TSA, he has finally released his legislation that he tweets will 'abolish the #TSA & establish a passengers "Bill of Rights."' Although the tweet sounds radical, the press release describing his proposed legislation is much less so. 'Abolition' really means privatization; one of Paul's proposals would simply force all screenings to be conducted by private screeners. The proposed changes in the 'passenger Bill of Rights' appear to involve slight modifications to existing screening methods at best. Many of his 'rights' are already guaranteed under current law, like the right to opt-out of body scanning. Others can only vaguely be described as rights, like 'expansion of canine screening.' Here's to the new boss..."
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Sen. Rand Paul Introduces TSA Reform Legislation

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  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:24PM (#40339559)

    Back in the 90's we still had metal detectors and screeners would use the wand if it went off

    • by CimmerianX ( 2478270 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:31PM (#40339631)

      Hell, back in the 40's you would just walk on a plane.

      • It was also legal for pilots to have guns with them.
        • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:57PM (#40339883)

          "It was also legal for pilots to have guns with them."

          It still is. The laws that temporarily took guns away from pilots were misguidedly attempting to somehow keep us "safe"... from the very people we were trusting with our lives when we stepped on the plane in the first place.

          What a boneheaded, f*ed up thing to do.

          Fortunately, some politicians who had at least a few working brain cells left got that situation reversed, and explicitly made it legal (again) for pilots to carry guns.

          • by starless ( 60879 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @06:25PM (#40340159)

            Right, what pilot could possibly go crazy and do stupid stuff?
            Well, apart from ones on Jet Blue....
  ,0,7994226.story []
            But, anyway...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by magarity ( 164372 )

      There's a big psychological difference behind the attitude towards passengers of the average screener empowered by the federal government and one empowered by the local airport.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:57PM (#40339885)
        That big psychological difference is only in the minds of people like Rand Paul. The screeners are, in most cases, the exact same people, and they're working the exact same crappy job with the exact same crappy supervisor. The signature on their paycheck doesn't matter in their mind, only in yours.
        • by chrismcb ( 983081 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @06:41PM (#40340299) Homepage
          It is much easier to sue a private corporation than the government.
        • by mianne ( 965568 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @06:59PM (#40340479)

          The key point, which is not addressed at all within the press release is whether the Govt. will subsidize private screening or not. This is important because if so, then the TSA will simply be subcontracted out to Halliburton or other firm, and waste, fraud, and abuse will only increase, more security theater = more screeners = more equipment = more profit!

          If, instead, airport screening was funded by the airport or airlines themselves (yes, either way, the air traveler ultimately picks up the tab) then they'd have an incentive to maximize passenger throughput while minimizing cost. They would still want reasonable security measures for safety's sake and to keep insurance premiums low and lawsuits to a minimum.

          If JFK Intl still insisted on Whole Body Imaging, pat downs, no fly lists, liquid bans, shoe removal, and all the other nonsense introduced over the past decade, they'd probably have to charge about $15 per passenger to cover the cost. Therefore LaGuardia may then see that by just relying on metal detectors, X-rays for carry-ons, and canine patrols, they could screen each passenger for about $2 each, while having fewer delays and fewer upset travelers.

          The upshot in this hypothetical example is that passengers who are still worried about another 9/11 style attack can fly out of JFK and feel reassured that they'll be perfectly safe from terrorists and will gladly pay for the privilege of being strip-searched, irradiated, groped, and prodded in exchange for this reassurance. Those who'd rather not pay to be humiliated can fly out of LaGuardia instead. Even humoring the idea that they'd be twice as likely to die in a terrorist incident as those who opted for the "enhanced" screening at JFK. Or in other words, instead of 25,000,000:1 odds, they'd be facing 12,500,000:1 odds.

          Would traffic out of these two airports remain largely unchanged, would travel dry up out of LaGuardia out of fear, or would traffic dry up at JFK due to invasive security theater. I'd place my bets on the third scenario. However, in a true Libertarian sense, whatever imbalance was created if any would be corrected in short order by one airport adopting the policies of the other which took away their business.

        • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @07:43PM (#40340635)

          One big problem is that when privatizing many government functions they can turn out to be actually be more expensive. Ie, inefficient not-for-profit group versus inefficient for-profit group. And indeed after privatizing you still have the _same_ managers and employees and equipment and procedures and rules except that they will be even less accountable to the citizenry than before.

          There are some people who have this irrational hatred of governments and who are actually happy to spend even more money to get rid of the government label but change nothing else. These are not fiscal conservatives since their goal is not to save money. I think much of the time they're just trying to get votes from people who don't know any better than to solve an actual problem.

          For-profit companies can do a good job in many areas, especially areas that involve making money. However they very often fail in areas that are not for profit. They just can not be run and managed the same way.

      • yeah, even less professionalism and less recourse in the instance of abuse

      • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @06:05PM (#40339959)

        Yeah you can sue a private screener. You can't sue the government. Well, you can, but the government won't let you win the case, as happened recently. A man was thrown to the ground and severely injured, so he sued the TSA, and the TSA refused to turn-over the videos because of "national security". The man was forced to drop the case since the evidence was being withheld.

        • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Friday June 15, 2012 @06:22PM (#40340109)

          Yeah you can sue a private screener.

          Says who?

          You watch, Federal regulations will end up giving these guys immunity in exactly the same way the TSA has immunity.

        • Private security weren't dicks usually because they were answerable to the airport authority for that airport, and they are want happy customers. So they'd keep the security people accountable.

          That's the real problem with the TSA, other than their ineffectiveness, is they have no accountability. It is set up very well so that nobody is ever accountable for what they do. It doesn't have to be that way, not all government agencies are, but it is and that is a big problem.

          Well and easy fix would just be to pri

          • Private security weren't dicks usually because they were answerable to the airport authority for that airport, and they are want happy customers.

            Is that why Mall cops are always so friendly and helpful? Well, they are, if you are white and rich, or hot and female. But if you are poor, young and a minority... yeah, not so much.

        • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @06:31PM (#40340207) Journal

          Yeah you can sue a private screener.

          Just like you can sue the phone company for spying on you?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      September 9th, 2001, I have video of me running through Palm Beach International Airport, holding up my camcorder to the security guards as the metal detector starts beeping and I don't even slow down. All I say is that my plane is taking off in less than 10 minutes as I run by. Nobody did a thing.

      If I did that today, I would be tackled, tasered and handcuffed.


  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:24PM (#40339569)

    That's the main problem here... the Federal government offered up "free" security services to airports, what else were they going to do? Now we seem to be stuck with the stellar service that is the TSA - government managed security theater.

    Get rid of it. Problem solved.

    • by MrDoh! ( 71235 )

      Yup, we're going to go back to how things used to be, and much money was spent to get there.

      • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:48PM (#40339789)

        The TSA wouldn't bother me so much if (a) it was just the airport and (b) they operated with professionalism. BUT in reality the TSA is expanding its operations to our streets, with random stops-and-searches along interstates (border states), bus stops, train stations, and publicly-open facilities like malls, unemployment centers, hotels, post offices, and most recently: Chicago parks.

        As for (b) I have close to 1000 stories about the TSA groping women's breasts, men's penises, forced strip searches of elderly women, dumping urine or feces bags on the floor, forcing a woman to demo a breastpump (else they'd steal the ~$100 device), tackling a woman like she in a football game, holding a man in St. Louis because he was carrying ~$3000 in cash (not a crime), detaining a Senator because he opted-out of being groped & wanted to be scanned, forcing a woman to stand inside a glass jail for over an hour because she had milk for her child (which was then dumped & she missed her flight), and on and on and on.

  • Fun Fact: In some parts of the US, the pronunciations of "privatization" and "profitization" are nearly indistinguishable.

  • by Schezar ( 249629 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:34PM (#40339651) Homepage Journal

    I fly around the world on a regular basis. There is one thing that every single foreign airport I have ever flown out of shares in common: a lack of security theater.

    From Mumbai to Istanbul, Narita to that tiny little airport on the island next to Toronto, I never have to:

    1. Take my shoes off
    2. Submit to a body scanner
    3. Suffer a pat-down
    4. Wait more than ten minutes to get through security

    Flying within and out of the US is slower, more difficult, more humiliating, than flying through airports where terrorism is ACTUALLY a common threat. I am embarrassed every time a foreigner has to deal with my country's ridiculous soap opera of security, and simultaneously enraged when the outside world reminds me that, outside of the US, flying is a wonderfully pleasant experience from start to finish.

    I don't really have a new or insightful point here other than to vent, to be honest. It's deeply frustrating to see the ludicrous amount of money we've spent on body scanners that are not only trivially fooled, but simultaneously don't catch anything actually dangerous a metal detector wouldn't have already caught and still require me to take my god damned mother fucking shoes off. Security is worse, yet somehow takes longer. I have to choose between a ridiculous body scan or an intrusive physical search in my own relatively safe country, but can travel in comfort everywhere else.

    It's maddening. I avoid flying as much as possible literally because of the TSA. It's a sad state of affairs when a 12-hour train ride (which, mind you, costs MORE than a flight) is an attractive option to dealing with airport security.

    It's maddening to the point that I supported Rand Paul's original initiative to ban/reform the TSA. Rand Paul is a lunatic, yet I dislike the TSA so much that he and I agreed on this one issue.

    So now, it turns out, he doesn't want to do what he'd said at all. His proposal address NONE of the things that madden me so, and in many cases make them worse. Privatized security theater is no better than public security theater. The THEATER part is the problem, not the public or private part.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      I fly around the world on a regular basis. There is one thing that every single foreign airport I have ever flown out of shares in common: a lack of security theater

      It's amazing how easy it is to spot Americans in foreign airports. They're the ones who are taking their shoes off at the x-ray machines while everyone else is walking past them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I'm shocked, shocked, I say, to learn that your planes around the world haven't been hijacked yet. I'm certain that the only reason they're not being hijacked left, right and center is that the US security screening system is also protecting the rest of the world. In fact, the service the TSA provides is so great that we should go all around the world and demand tribu...payment for our services.

    • "The THEATER part is the problem, not the public or private part."

      Unfortunately, the THEATER part is the whole reason for its existence. They never cared about your security. It was all about getting Americans used to taking orders from government.

    • I also fly around the world on a regular basis. Perhaps not as regular as you, but security theater is alive and well around the ENTIRE world: Flew from US - Prague through Paris. Had to throw away the bottle of water given to me on the US plane when I landed in Paris. Flew from Brazil to Dallas to Home. Was carrying a suitcase of electronic gear ( a timing system) The security theatre in Brazil was worried I might use the blunt end of the small tripod as a weapon (but the rest of the electronic gear was ok
  • Private Screeners (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:36PM (#40339671)

    He is saying "Yo big government, keep your hands off citizens". Getting groped by private screeners (punny) is totally more liberating than when done by TSA agents.

  • Nothing speaks of liberty more than a shift from government agency to a private agency. Why waste taxpayers' money on TSA when we can spend double the tax money and get groped the same way by "private screeners"?
  • Nothing radical about privatizing stuff which should remain in the government, though run much better than it currently is, it's typical of the right side of the aisle.

    What I worry about is when our safety is a matter of profit for someone, perhaps eyeing a new house or boat or something.

    Sad how disfunctional goverhment has become since 1999. It's all about posturing and then getting as much for your campaign donors as you can get. Hard to believe we once had a pretty effective government, split between p

  • by pitchpipe ( 708843 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:51PM (#40339821)
    B-b-b-but... his last name is Paul, and his first name starts with an 'r', so it must be good for the country right? RIGHT!?
  • by slasho81 ( 455509 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:58PM (#40339895)

    The TSA employs about 60,000 people. The number one thing that voters care about in the US is jobs.

    The TSA will not be curtailed anytime soon.

    • The number one thing that voters care about in the US is jobs.

      Individually yes, but en-masse you'd find millions made happier having the TSA lose jobs and then locals having a shot at private security work.

      There is scant love for government workers these days.

  • lack of courage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @06:15PM (#40340059) Homepage Journal
    Really this is typical of the Paul fiefdom. They want smaller government, the claim to be libertarians, but then, as soon as he gets in office, he is the same borrow and spend politicians that have characterized republicans since Reagan(debt as percent of GDP went over 50% since WWII). Just like everyone else, he knows he needs public tax dollars to pay off his friends who funded his election. Both Pauls have said, and have acted, to make sure their friends get their share fo the federal purse.

    So what is wrong with current situation. It is that the TSA is a symptom, not the cause. The cause is Homeland Security, a department, which this year is adding $3billion in deficient spending over what it has been adding all the years since Bush decided that bigger government was the way to go. If we want smaller government, Paul should be giving us legislation to get rid of the DHS, putting the duties into other departments. He should get rid of medicare part D. He should stop the department of education from doing anything but reference curriculum and grants for innovative local teaching ideas. This would be smaller government and real savings. But instead he will continue to attack workers and pretend to care about the people.

  • by cas2000 ( 148703 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @06:52PM (#40340413)

    1. it makes them immune to Freedom of Information laws, as they only apply to government and government agencies

    2. eliminates the horrific waste of potential for profit and corporate welfare - it's never a good idea for a government to do something when they can pay corporations ten times as much to do a crappier job.

    remember children: "Government Bad! Business Good!"

  • by Dave Emami ( 237460 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @08:20PM (#40340987) Homepage

    The TSA was created in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, with the reasoning that failures in airport security were at partly to blame for those attacks succeeding. But the reason the hijackers succeeded (or partly succeeded in the case of United 93) was because they exploited existing assumptions about what airline hijackers do.

    Prior to 9/11, the primary purposes of a hijacking were to gain publicity and to use the passengers and crew as hostages. The terrorists would issue demands (usually for release of prisoners allied with them), maybe force the pilot to fly the plane around from airport to airport. Maybe (but not often) they might pick out a passenger belonging to a group they hated (members of the US military, or Jews) and kill him. But overall, if everyone cooperated, they'd come out of it alive, albeit after some miserable days or weeks -- TWA Flight 847 [] in 1985 being the archetypal example. This is the way the public perceived it, and it was the basis for official government policy: cooperate and negotiate, because the hostage are valuable to the terrorists. If the hostages are dead, the terrorists have nothing to bargain with, and the government has no reason not to go in with guns blazing.

    Based on this, all the 9/11 attackers had to do was present the passengers and crew with a situation where the perceived risks of resisting were greater than the perceived risks of cooperating. Without the knowledge that their situation did not match the pattern and that cooperation would result in everybody being killed, a credible threat to the life of just one person would have been enough. The hijackers could have accomplished this with their bare hands by ganging up on a single vulnerable person (elderly or very young), holding him/her, and threatening to strangle them. No pilot was going to say "Go ahead, break the old lady's neck, the cops can arrest you when we land in LA." Having box cutters made things easier, but not having them (because airport security would have confiscated them) would not have stopped them.

    The way people perceive the situation is different now, and indeed the perception changed during the hijackings, once the passengers aboard United 93 found out what what the hijackers actually intended. Now, a hijacking couldn't succeed unless the hijackers were heavily armed, because the assumption among everyone else would be that cooperation means dying.

    My point here (sorry for the rambling) is that the assumption behind creating the TSA is "if we'd only had it on 9/11, the attacks would have been prevented", and that's not true. Likewise, if the 9/11 attacks were attempted using the same tactics today, they'd fail, TSA or no TSA.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan