The TSA messes with Texas

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

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 cowed eas­ily, as the up­per cham­ber was on May 25. 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 per­suade enough sen­a­tors to hoist the white flag.

On May 13, the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives 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 last week to in­tim­i­da­tion to thwart the bill as it came up in the state Se­nate.

On May 24, 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 H.R. 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 passen- gers or crew.”

The bill’s pri­mary spon­sor, state Rep. David P. 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: Un- elected 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.

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