, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Amid other more newsworthy events on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are looking for a common enemy in an effort to enact some bi-partisan legislation and begin to overcome the gridlock that has paralyzed Congress in a polarized political climate.

The common enemy on a modest measure is no other than everyone’s least favorite agency, TSA. While NSA may spy on us and HHS may meddle in our healthcare choices, no other agency rubs more Americans the wrong way, literally, than TSA. Of course, NSA, HHS, FBI or no other agency has fondled our children or taken the nude images of millions of adults and children for the past five years for either.

There is a new bill being introduce to prevent a recurrence of the despised backscatter x-ray naked scanners that were removed this June because the vendor couldn’t come up with a reliable privacy filter to block the nude image and even tried falsifying testing records to show that they that blew up when investigators discovered the fraud, causing yet another scandal.

The x-ray scanner debacle cost taxpayers well over $100 million and was blamed in part to overzealous TSA officials and a lack of proper Congressional oversight and intervention. To add insult to injury, these scanners are now ion storage alongside the failed puffer machines that TSA wasted tens of millions of dollars on a few years after 9/11 in a sort of TSA failures museum that is costing taxpayers a whopping $800,000 per year so these can collect dust while fading ignominiously into obsolescence.

The bill, being introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), would require to develop a plan to curb further waste.

The Hill
Bill would change TSA rules for buying scanners
By Keith Laing – 10/29/13 09:45 AM ET
The measure would require the TSA to develop a multi-year strategic plan for security equipment purchases and report to Congress on issues with new purchases, such as cost overruns or technological failures.

The bill would also direct the TSA to reduce the amount of unused equipment it is paying to store in warehouses, and attempt to contract with private sector companies more often to provide security services the federal government is currently paying to provide.

The TSA has previously defended the money it spends on storing equipment it is not using by arguing that it is spending a lot less than it used to.

On a related topic, the CATO Institute will be hosting a briefing on capitol Hill in November to address members of Congress on the need to privatize airport security and eliminate the mission creep by TSA into other areas.

CATO Institute Capitol Hill Briefing: Mission Creep at the TSA and the Case for Privatization‏
Featuring Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Founder and Chairman, Congressional Constitution Caucus; Khaliah Barnes, Administrative Law Counsel, EPIC; and Chris Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies, Cato Institute; moderated by Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, Cato Institute

In the 12 years since the creation of the TSA it has become clear that the federal takeover of airport security was a mistake. Cato scholar Chris Edwards writes in an upcoming paper that TSA operations should be privatized and passenger and baggage screening “moved to the control of airports and opened to competitive bidding.”

In a recent New York Times article, EPIC administrative law counsel Khaliah Barnes highlighted that the TSA deploys Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) squads to perform random sweeps of individuals outside of airports and argues that these practices are problematic because they are devoid of true legal standards like probable cause. Also in response to the growing use of VIPR squads, Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) introduced the Freedom of Travel Act, which denies the TSA the authority to conduct random searches of surface transportation travelers. Join us for a discussion about restructuring airport screening to improve security, increase efficiency, and reduce civil liberties concerns.

To register to attend this event, click the button below and then submit the form on the page that opens, or email events@cato.org, fax (202) 371-0841, or call (202) 789-5229 by noon on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.