True to its word, the Transportation Security Administration followed through on its pledge to boycott today’s House transportation hearing about the agency’s impact on commercial air travel, evoking strong words if not subpoena threats from committee leaders.
Committee Chairman John Mica called TSA Administrator John Pistole’s absence “very sad.” TSA airport screeners now pose more risk than protection to airline passengers, and the agency seems most interested in preserving its bureaucracy, Mica said.
“We need to be closing down TSA as we know it and instituting a safer, more efficient, less bureaucratic system,” the Florida Republican said.
Screeners are “shaking down grandmothers, veterans, people with disabilities” and stealing from passengers’ bags, he said.
Rep. Tom Petri, the Wisconsin Republican who leads the aviation subcommittee, said the agency is on a “path of non-transparency and arrogance.”
“Their actions today show why the public is so frustrated with the TSA,” he said.
Pistole said Nov. 27 that neither he nor anyone else from the agency would appear at the hearing, saying the transportation committee doesn’t have jurisdiction over his agency. Mica, Petri and Bill Shuster, the Pennsylvania Republican who will become committee chairman in January, say they have a right to monitor the agency because it’s part of the aviation system they oversee.
Pistole, in his statement, said his agency would continue working with committees of jurisdiction, noting it’s appeared 38 times at hearings in the past two years and given hundreds of private briefings.
Written with Bernard Kohn