Reprinted in full:
Thank you for contacting me to express your concern about full-body scanners at airports. I appreciate hearing from you about this important issue.
As you may know, under new guidelines established by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), passengers at some airports are subjected to a full-body scan to detect prohibited items that may be concealed under their clothing. Individuals who do not want to go through a full body screening may decline in favor of a pat-down screening. There are more than 300 full body scanners in use at airports with TSA planning to increase that to more than 1,000 devices. Currently, no airport in Maine has a full body scanner.
I recognize the need for enhanced security guidelines that keep our skies safe for travel and understand that TSA has instituted these new guidelines to protect passengers. However, like you, I think TSA policies need to apply common sense in their approach to provide security.
Although these new guidelines have been created to enhance security for travelers and combat the threat of terrorism, we must be assured that the constitutional rights of American citizens are not being violated in the process. I have concerns about TSA full body scanners because of the potential invasion of privacy and lack of Congressional direction and oversight. Additionally, there are reports that the pat-down alternative to full-body scanning can be overly intrusive and time-consuming.
We need to ensure that these precautionary measures are the most appropriate methods to discover previously undetectable threats or explosives. The House passed H.R. 2200, the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act on June 4, 2009, with my support. It included an amendment to prohibit the TSA's use of full-body scanners as the primary screening method. This legislation is currently pending consideration in the Senate, and it is my hope that it is considered quickly.
Fortunately, the House Committee on Homeland Security plans to hold hearings on the body scanning procedures and alternative technologies. Congress must execute its oversight responsibilities, investigate claims of constitutional violations, and produce recommendations for restoring trust between the public and the TSA.
I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind as Congress continues its consideration of this issue. Thank you again for being in touch and I hope to see you in Maine soon.
Member of Congress