An Act To Hold the TSA Accountable

In 5 years of suing the TSA, I’ve personally encountered an enormous quantity of roadblocks, and I’ve read countless cases that others have put forth that have been similarly shut down without ever reaching the real merits of the case.  Although I’m busily preparing for law school finals at the moment, I’m also slowly making progress on drafting legislation to allow people who are abused by the TSA to successfully litigate by removing those roadblocks.  Some of these changes include:

  • Modifying standards for immunity (sovereign, qualified, etc.)
  • Making sure litigants are entitled to discovery
  • Filling gaps in the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act that allow the TSA to evade transparency requirements
  • Ensuring that the TSA cannot hide behind claims of secrecy without review of the courts
  • Holding the TSA accountable for the rampant baggage theft that occurs daily

If you have any ideas that you’d like to suggest, whether on what should be in the bill, how to best present the bill to Congress, or even just a clever name for the bill, please get in touch. 🙂  Remember, this bill is about fixing procedural problems, not disbanding the TSA, removing the body scanners, etc.

14 thoughts on “An Act To Hold the TSA Accountable

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  1. I think this is an excellent idea. I hope you can find a realistic path to getting it introduced as legislation. I don’t think you need to worry much about getting enough public support for it to be passed!

  2. I don’t think we can hope to deal with baggage theft until we make the airlines accountable as they are the ones that can decide what security measures to implement. As it stands now the airline can point at the TSA and the TSA can point at the airline and thus you can’t do much. For a related situation, look at how they handled lost baggage–the last airline is accountable no matter what. That way there can be no passing the buck.

  3. Prompt and full disclosure to the barred passenger should be required when passengers are barred from flights, and there should be *relatively* fast resolution processes that don’t require seven years and a lawsuit.

    Data tracking on complaints filed (if not already) and how many passengers are barred from flights. Data tracking on the resolutions of banned passengers who have fought to get removed from terrorist watch lists.

    Full disclosure on the criminal records of TSA employees.

    Require that all TSA employees and federal employees go through the same screening processes.

    Require an annual report on what TSA confiscates and how much of a windfall they get by fencing the items.

    Let us know if you need funds – and oh by the way, CONGRATS on your legal career plans !

  4. Require any inspection of checked bags to be done in the presence of the owner, at the time of check-in. Too bad if airports, airlines and TSA have to reconfigure their set ups (again); no one should be allowed to open a bag outside the owner’s presence. I am now in my 14th month of waiting for reimbursement from TSA for yet another “lost item” that disappeared from my checked bag after TSA’s inspection during travel in June 2014. This is the third time they have lost or broken something in one of my checked bags, and I’m a very infrequent traveler. I don’t even want to think about the contamination involved as they paw through my belongings wearing the same filthy gloves they use to touch everyone and everything else. Punishing TSA or airlines for lost/stolen/damaged luggage items seems futile, since in both cases, it is the public that ends up paying for the fine. Prevention, by getting them out of our bags unless we are watching, seems the best bet to me.

  5. DHS/TSA Detains Stockton Mayor, Forces Him To Hand Over His Passwords:

    The mayor of Stockton was briefly detained and had two of his laptops and a cell phone confiscated by homeland security agents at the San Francisco International Airport earlier this week after returning from a trip to China.

    “A few minutes later, DHS agents confiscated all my electronic devices including my personal cell phone. Unfortunately, they were not willing or able to produce a search warrant or any court documents suggesting they had a legal right to take my property. In addition, they were persistent about requiring my passwords for all devices,” Silva said.

    Silva was not allowed to leave the airport until he gave his passwords to the agents, which the mayor’s personal attorney, Mark Reichel, claimed is illegal.

    The mayor said the agents told him confiscating property from travelers at the airport was “in fact routine and not unusual,” and promised to return the items within a few days.

    Silva was also told he had “no right for a lawyer to be present” and that being a U.S. citizen did not “entitle me to rights that I probably thought.”

    1. Excerpt from the article:

      Mayor Anthony Silva: …”I briefly had to remind myself that this was not North Korea or Nazi Germany. This is the land of the Free.”

  6. Need a name, eh?

    Holding Accountable Non-admissible and Disputed Security Operations For Fliers

    a.k.a. The HANDS OFF Act

  7. So to really fix the whole extremely dangerous lines in front of the airport issue, we need to get back to the original meaning of unreasonable which the courts have twisted to mean the reason by an officer rather than the legal reasonable by the suspect. If the need for a warrant can be restored and the various illegal, Terry stop, detainment, and search without consent theN it is possible to get the TSA removed entirely. The system could then be replaced by private security instituted by the airlines and federally subsidized, such a system would provide competition and market forces would drive risky technology such as back scatter scanners out of the market. The level of security on a specific airline should be at the discretion of the airline and the customers, just as it is at every single mall and grocery store.

    Again restore the original intent of unreasonable in the 4th amendment as reasonable by the defendant via court order rather than the slippery slope of agent and officer reason which is limitless.

  8. I know this is a VERY old article, but I have a thought…

    TSA prevents itself from being accountable in the way they run things. Yes, they put a slip of paper in my bag, but it is completely generic. There is no identifying info at all there.

    The slip of paper should have some code (preferably a QR code to make reporting easy) that is DIRECTLY CONNECTED to a specific employee that did the search. Then TSA can track the # of complaints as compared to the # of bags processed and figure out when an employee is incompetent or unethical.

    To be honest I am more concerned about the breakage that occurs when they re-pack the bags incompetently than with the theft issue. I travel often and can’t remember the last time I dealt with theft from my checked bags. But bags being re-packed in such a way that breakage is inevitable?! Probably 1 out of 3 searches in my experience.

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