President Obama’s much-belated nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration, Erroll Southers — faced only softball questioning at a confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. None of the questions we’ve raised for the nominee about TSA policies and procedures, or about the philosophical or practical attitude of the nominee toward the right to travel, were asked by any of the Senators. Nor, despite the nominee’s background of as a policeman (L.A. airport police commander and former FBI agent), was there any exploration of the role of the TSA as the Federal police agency that most often interacts directly with people who are accused of no crime — literally the front lines of Federal policing of innocent citizens.
The nomination of Mr. Southers has also been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security, which plans to hold its own confirmation hearing after it receives further background information from Mr. Southers, probably in late November.
If you want to know whether the Obama Administration and its nominee plan to set a new course for the TSA, let your Senators and the members of the Homeland Security know that you want them to ask tough questions (”Do we have a right to travel? Should the obligations of travelers at TSA checkpoints be spelled out in publicly-disclosed regulations? Should no-fly decisions be subject to judicial review? Should we have to show ID to fly? Should the government keep records of our travels?”) before they vote to approve any nominee for TSA Administrator.