House Subcommittee on Aviation hearing November 29, 2012

by Wendy Thomson on December 1, 2012


There was a party held on Capitol Hill on Thursday, November 29, 2012, that was not attended by anyone from the TSA. John Pistole sent his regrets, as was covered here earlier. But that didn’t mean that nobody came.

For starters, the Consumer Travel Alliance came, in the person of CTA director Charles Leocha. And come he did: organized, cogent, direct, and spot-on. The TSA’s Maginot Line, as we’ve written before, won’t work. Prison-like screening won’t work. “The terrorism world has changed,” Leocha said. “TSA hasn’t.” I think that might be my favorite summation. (You can read Leocha’s complete testimony here.)

The CTA’s recommendations? For one, get real with the long list of forbidden items and focus on explosives. As Leocha put it, most of “these items are legal and of no more threat to passengers than if they were in the possession of citizens strolling in front of the New York City library, riding the Metro in Washington, DC, taking the Coast Starlight train along the Pacific, or riding a bus in Fort Worth.”

The wish list continues and reads like a dream come true: ditch the meant-to-intimidate uniforms. Immediately decommission all backscatter machines. Use MMW scanners only as optional secondary screening and return to metal detectors for primary screening. Manage the trusted traveler programs to cover the vast majority of the traveling public. Use probable cause for all additional searches. Limit the TSA to airports (in other words, get rid of the VIPR infestations). Pay attention to the back end operations of airports.

Charlie, we love ya. Let’s hope they listened.

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