Sens. Doherty, Beach Introduce Resolution Calling on Congress to Reconsider TSA Screening Procedures
Senator Michael J. Doherty (R- Hunterdon, Warren) and Senator James Beach (D- Camden) announced they will present resolutions to the Senate and Assembly calling on the U.S. Congress to end TSA screening procedures requiring full body scans and pat downs at U.S. airports Their action comes in response to widespread concerns over privacy and radiation, as well as reports of inappropriate conduct by TSA agents during the screening process.
“The pursuit of security should not force Americans to surrender their civil liberties or basic human dignity at a TSA checkpoint,” said Doherty. “Subjecting law-abiding American citizens to naked body scans and full body pat downs is intolerable, humiliating, vulnerable to abuse, and is fast becoming a disincentive to travel. Particularly concerning to us is the fact that physical searches result in children being touched in private areas of the body. Terrorists hate America because of the freedoms upon which this great nation was built. By implementing these screening measures, the TSA has already handed a victory to those who seek to destroy our freedoms.”
Recent news reports have documented widespread public outcry over the new security measures and numerous reports of groping or inappropriate touching of passengers and airline personnel by TSA agents. Pilots and flight attendant advocacy groups, including the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) object to the new screening measures for airline personnel, while pilots and flight attendants have been increasingly choosing to forgo full body scans due to radiation exposure.
“While no one questions the need for greater security at our airports, no one should be forced to hand over their dignity in the name of safety, ” said Senator Jim Beach (D-Camden). “Creating a pat-down procedure that is purposely invasive and time-consuming is no way to make passengers feel safer or more secure. In fact, it can do the opposite. With the busiest travel day of the year just 10 days away, the TSA needs to get a reality check and soon. Airport security is meant to make passengers feel better about flying, not humiliate them.”
Senator Doherty was joined at a State House press conference announcing the resolution by Senator Diane Allen (R- Burlington), American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey Executive Director Deborah Jacobs, and Assembly members Erik Peterson, Alison McHose, John DiMaio, and Valerie Vanieri Huttle.
Senator Allen expressed reservations about passenger exposure to unnecessary radiation. “Certain Americans, including cancer patients and survivors who are being treated or have been treated with radiation therapy are told by their doctors to avoid unnecessary exposure to additional radiation. As a cancer survivor myself, the new imaging equipment used for full body scans concerns me greatly. The U.S. government has not provided adequate information on the potential health impacts of these machines- to say nothing of the invasive nature of the alternative presented to passengers. David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University has in fact said it is likely that at least some people who are exposed to the new scanners will develop cancer as a result, with frequent fliers and children among the most susceptible.”
The resolutions (click bill numbers for more information):
SCR-135 – Urges Congress and President to address certain concerns raised by advanced imaging technology employed at airports or to discontinue their use.
SR-91 – Urges Transportation Security Administration to terminate recent changes to its procedure for conducting pat down searches at airport checkpoints.
Important Update (12/6/2010):
Senator Doherty introduced three new pieces of legislation on Monday, December 6, 2010 to eliminate any immunity TSA agents might enjoy when violating New Jersey law during unnecessary and invasive airport screenings.
The legislation bans TSA body scanners and criminalizes unreasonable searches and invasive pat downs.