By State Senator Sam Slom
Originally published in HawaiiReporter.com
Believing that the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has gone too far in an assault on individual and states rights, a new, national, bipartisan legislative caucus is emerging to take action.
Dubbed tentatively the “United States for Travel Freedom” caucus, it officially convened on April 14, 2011 via teleconference and video live streaming (http//alaskalegislature.tv/).
The mission of the caucus is to, “establish a centralized location to share information regarding
· detailed information of federal security policies as they pertain to the right to travel freely;
· detailed information on how these policies affect the citizens of the United States of America;
· detailed information on methods of screening and the accumulative costs of these procedures.
Primary organizers are Alaska State Representative Sharon Cissna and Washington State Senator Val Stevens. Republican and Democrat legislators from Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington have pledged to work together for common goals to oppose what is perceived as an ever growing threat to liberty by the TSA. Additional state legislative participation is anticipated.
Each of the lawmakers involved to date has introduced legislation in their state to curb what they, and their state’s citizens, believe to be excessive power by the TSA.
Specific issues include constitutional rights, invasion of privacy and civil rights, child protection and fiscal issues. Many of the state bills call for individual state prohibitions on TSA procedures with the ultimate goal federal action against the operations of the TSA itself.
(a series of legislative lists regarding pending legislation may be found at http://www.akhealthcaucus.org/TSA.php)
In Hawaii, I introduced SB 1150 in January, 2011, “Relating to the use of Body Imaging Scanners at Airports.” The bill would make it illegal to use non-consensual full body imaging devices at Hawaii airports. There were four Democrat co-signatories. The bill was referred to three separate committees, but never given a hearing. It will be back in 2012.
The full imaging device was installed at Lihue, Kauai, in mid-2010. A second unit was placed in service in Honolulu in October 2010, and to date, two more of a planned six units are in operation in Honolulu.
For years, a growing number of people and organizations have raised red flags about the operations of the TSA, its costs and its effectiveness, or lack thereof, of ever identifying a single terrorist or crime, while inconveniencing and traumatizing hundreds of citizens. Now TSA will be unionized.
There are several national and local controversial issues involving TSA. Last week, a video surfaced on Drudge.com, showing (video and audio) the detailed “patting down” of a six year old child. Parents were horrified.
In March, 2011 in Honolulu, KITV-TV investigative reporter Keoki Kerr uncovered a series of incidents at Honolulu International Airport where more than two dozen TSA screeners were not in fact screening checked luggage. The lapse had gone on for months. At least 27 TSA Honolulu officers are currently under a federal probe for these actions.
Just this week, a former Honolulu TSA employee, Dawn Nicole Keka, is facing embezzling charges for allegedly stealing cash from wallets of Japanese visitors in Kona on the island of Hawaii. Keka was arrested last week and she resigned her job on April 11. The TSA initiated a sting operation after numerous allegations had arisen during the past several months.
It should be remembered that Alaska Representative Cissna made headlines previously, when she, a breast surgery survivor, refused invasive TSA handling and was denied aircraft boarding to return home to Anchorage. She was forced to use several other forms of alternate transportation.
In Hawaii, there are no other alternate forms of transportation.
The next caucus meeting is set for late May or early June. Individuals or organizations in Hawaii who would like more information may contact me directly at SBH@lava.net or 808-349-5438.