Chambliss Raises Concerns Regarding New TSA Screening Procedures

From the office of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

Chambliss Raises Concerns Regarding New TSA Screening Procedures

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., on Friday sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano expressing concerns regarding the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) new pat-down procedures. In the letter, Chambliss urges TSA to strike a balance between privacy protection and utilizing effective security measures.

Additionally, Chambliss raises concerns regarding TSA's screening procedures for children and urges TSA to expedite and improve the efficiency of the screening process for pilots and flight attendants.

In April 2010, Chambliss also sent Sec. Napolitano a letter urging TSA to explore existing technology, referred to as "automated target recognition," which is less-invasive, highly effective, and avoids exposing passengers and screeners to radiation. This technology provides a solution to many of the privacy concerns that have been raised, while providing an advanced detection capability.

The full text of the letter is below:

November 19, 2010

Dear Madam Secretary:

I write today in regards to the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) recent announcement of the implementation of new pat-down procedures at checkpoints nationwide.  While I recognize the importance of rigorous screening to ensure the safety and security of air travel, some questions have arisen as to the nature of these procedures and their invasiveness.

I have received numerous complaints and have heard concerns from hundreds of constituents in Georgia regarding these new pat-down procedures.  Specifically, constituents question the increasingly invasive nature of these procedures given the heavy burden the traveling public is already facing.  What are the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and TSA doing to address these concerns?  Has TSA undertaken any efforts to improve communication with the public on these more aggressive screening procedures?  In addition, in light of recent news reports alleging inappropriate conduct by certain TSA employees when conducting pat-downs, what measures have TSA and DHS taken or plan to take to ensure the professionalism of its employees?

Furthermore, I seek clarification of TSA's screening policy with respect to children.  I understand from Administrator Pistole's recent testimony that children under the age of 12 are exempt from many screening procedures. However, I have had numerous reports from families with children that have undergone very rigorous and potentially invasive screening in recent weeks.  Can you please clarify the standard practice for screening young children?

Lastly, pilots and flight attendants have expressed concerns over the effects of these new procedures on members of their profession.  Atlanta, GA, home to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, is also the home base of many flightcrew members who are directly impacted by TSA policies and procedures every single day.  Therefore, I ask you to detail the measures TSA is pursuing to expedite and improve the efficiency of the screening process for flightcrew members.

I recognize the sensitive and vital nature of TSA's work and applaud the agency for its efforts to protect air passengers.  I believe that, by taking concerns such as these into consideration, a balance between secure air travel and privacy protection can and must be reached.

Thank you again for your attention to this matter; I appreciate your timely and informative responses to similar issues I have raised in the past. Should you or your staff have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or Tyler Stephens of my staff.


Saxby Chambliss