Benjamin Reeves | February 1 2013 12:26 EST
For the first time ever, many liberals may find themselves in agreement with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). The garrulous right-winger said Thursday he will endeavor to refile a bill eliminating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and another creating an an air traveler's bill of rights.
Paul has waged a private crusade against the TSA and the often byzantine system of security regulations and apparatus travels have had to face since 9/11. Paul's distaste for the TSA began after he was detained on his way to a speech in January 2012.
Although the two bills did not make it through the senate in 2012, Paul said in and interview with Politico Thursday that he plans to try again this year. Although many on the left find Paul's politics both social and economic, the current raft of travel related bills may provide an opportunity for a high-profile reach across the aisle.
“I really think there is some bipartisan support for reforming the TSA,” Paul told Politico. However, he added that gridlock on Capitol Hill may delay even a set of bills as potentially popular as these.
Paul is advocating for the abolition of the TSA in favor of privatized security at airports. The air traveler's bill of rights will codify for travelers when they may leave security zones, who can be screened and how, and under what conditions they may contact outside parties like attorneys, among other specific rights. The first item on the traveler's bill of rights is “A passenger has the right to be presumed innocent before, during, and after screening.” Perhaps of greatest import for many civil liberties advocates and libertarian leaning Republicans is a clause stating that “A passenger has the right to decline to be screened using a device that uses backscatter x-rays.”
Backscatter x-ray machines have been criticized, both for not properly anonymizing and protecting the privacy of travels whose images are captured by them and for simply not working particularly well. Many major airports, including Chicago Midway and New York LaGuardia, to name just two, continue to use conventional metal detectors rather than the backscatter x-ray machines.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore)