You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

DIAMOND: TSA messes with Texas privates

DOJ threatens to ground planes over anti-groping bill

The Texas legislature needs to grow a backbone. A state that prides itself on its independence and the slogan "Don't mess with Texas" ought not to be easily cowed as the upper chamber was Wednesday. When the time came for a vote to hold the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) accountable for its despicable airport-screening practices, it only took a scary letter from a Department of Justice bureaucrat to convince enough senators to hoist the white flag.

On May 13, the state House of Representatives had unanimously approved legislation applying sexual-harassment statutes to TSA agents who conducted intimate searches absent probable cause and without the backing of a specific federal law authorizing the procedure. Because the rogue federal agency has neither, Obama administration officials resorted this week to intimidation to thwart the bill as it came up in the state Senate.

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy dispatched a letter to Texas Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst threatening to ground flights in the Lone Star State. "If HR 1937 were enacted, the federal government would likely seek an emergency stay of the statute," Mr. Murphy wrote. "Unless or until such a stay were granted, TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers or crew."

The bill's primary sponsor, state Rep. David Simpson, a Republican, says that's a bluff. "I don't think it's realistic at all," he told The Washington Times. "I think it's political cover." Cutting off Texas would throw the entire air-transport system into chaos. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is the third busiest in the world and the primary hub for American Airlines. Last year, the airport handled nearly 1,800 flights per day. Houston's three main airports served 135,000 passengers per day. Every domestic airline would be in court to challenge any move to cut off Texas just because TSA's feelings were hurt.

This is the heart of the issue: Unelected bureaucrats demand carte blanche to mistreat the public in any way they choose. They don't allow their judgment to be questioned. Mr. Simpson noted that the DOJ letter was dropped at the very last moment in the legislative process after all the votes had been lined up for final passage. "Why didn't they come to my office over the last four months?" Mr. Simpson asked. "It's pretty frustrating."

At this point, with the clock running out on the Texas legislative session, extraordinary measures would be needed for the TSA bill to become law. Those steps ought to be taken to deliver a message to TSA and the Justice Department that they work for us, not the other way around.

Richard Diamond is a senior editor of The Washington Times and the former spokesman for the U.S. House Select Committee on Homeland Security.

About the Author

Richard Diamond

Richard Diamond, Managing Editor for Opinion, previously served as Senior Vice President at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, spokesman to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael K. Powell and spokesman to House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey and for the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.

Latest Stories

Latest Blog Entries

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts