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Senator Rand Paul Introduces Two Bills to Protect Airline Passengers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul has introduced two bills that would essentially end the Transportation Security Administration as it now operates. He is proposing the federalized program be turned over to private security companies and has provided a blueprint of what amounts to a passenger bill of rights.

If passed, one bill would require that the federalized screening program be turned over to private firms and allow airports to select companies approved by the Department of Homeland Securityto handle the work.

Another bill would permit travelers to opt out of pat-downs and be rescreened, allow them to call a lawyer when detained, increase the role of dogs in explosive detection, let passengers “appropriately object to mistreatment,” allow children 12 years old and younger to avoid “unnecessary pat-downs” and require the written distribution of these new rights at airports.

That legislation also would let airports decide to privatize if wanted and expand TSA’s PreCheck program for trusted travelers.

Senator Paul said:

While aviation security is undoubtedly important, we must be diligent in protecting the rights of all Americans, such as their freedom from being subjected to humiliating and intrusive searches by TSA agents, especially when there is no obvious cause.

It is important that the rules and boundaries of our airport screening process be transparent and easily available to travelers so that proper restraints are in place on screeners. Travelers should be empowered with the knowledge necessary to protect themselves from a violation of their rights and dignity.

Many of TSA’s screening procedures simply defy common sense, such as ‘enhanced pat-downs’ of elderly passengers, young children, or those with disabilities. It seems that every day brings a new account of mistreatment by TSA agents during the screening process.

It is important that the rules and boundaries of our airport screening process be transparent and easily available to travelers so that proper restraints are in place on screeners.

The bill would require these and other reforms be collected into a single Bill of Rights to be distributed by TSA at airports and placed on TSA’s public website. The 17 minimum rights laid out in the Passenger Bill of Rights include:

  • A one-year deadline to implement a screening process for pre-cleared frequent-flyers at all airports with more than 250,000 annual flights;
  • Authority to permit travelers who fail to pass imaging or metal detector screening to choose to be re-screened rather than subjected to an automatic pat-down;
  • Expansion of canine screening at airports, a more effective and less invasive method of screening passengers for explosives, as well as a strong deterrent;
  • Eliminating unnecessary pat-downs for children 12 years of age or under;
  • Right of parents to stay with their children during the screening process;
  • Guaranteeing a traveler’s right to request a pat-down using only the back of the hand;
  • Protection of a traveler’s right to appropriately object to mistreatment by screeners;
  • Protection of a traveler’s right to decline a backscatter X-ray scan, a screening method with potentially harmful health effects;
  • Protection of a traveler’s right to contact an attorney if detained or removed from screening;

Paul was detained earlier this year by TSA screeners when he objected to a pat-down after setting off an imaging machine. He asked to be rescreened but the screeners in Nashville refused.

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