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U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is asking Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller to convene a hearing following the Thanksgiving holiday to focus on airline travelers’ experiences with the screening measures recently implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
In his letter to the chairman, Udall — a member of the committee — notes that while the perspectives of both DHS Secretary Napolitano and TSA Administrator Pistole have been heard in recent hearings, the committee has yet to examine the accounts of individuals who endure both body image screenings and pat-down procedures when traveling.
“In today’s post-9/11 world we must continually strive to strike the proper balance of preserving airline security and respecting the privacy and dignity of travelers,” Udall said.
“That includes hearing the standpoint of the traveling public who undergo these procedures and there is no better time to do so than on the heels of one of the busiest travel holidays.”
In his letter dated Nov. 19 Udall writes, “Dear Chairman Rockefeller, I am writing to respectfully request that the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hold a hearing in December on passenger privacy rights and issues that have recently arisen during the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) screenings at airports throughout the country.
“We are approaching one of the busiest travel times of the year and TSA screening has received a great deal of attention since the new and more intrusive pat-down procedures were implemented. Additionally, there has been a steady growth in concern regarding safety and privacy issues related to the TSA’s use of Advanced Imagining Technology, which allows screeners to view highly revealing
images of passengers’ bodies.
While TSA’s role is crucial in protecting the safety of air travelers, we must also ensure that they are doing everything possible to properly balance security with the privacy rights of passengers. I appreciate your commitment to oversight and providing the Committee with the opportunity to hear testimony about TSA screening from DHS Secretary Napolitano and TSA Administrator Pistole.
It is also important, however, to hear from the traveling public and privacy rights groups in order to get a complete perspective on TSA’s screening procedures.
This will allow the Committee to take a more comprehensive approach as we conduct TSA oversight and consider legislation related to passenger screening.
I thank you for your consideration in hearing this important issue, and for all of the work that you do on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that is so important to my state and the rest of the nation.”