Congressman Ron Paul, a staunch member of the growing libertarian wing of the Republican party and the father of Republican Senator-Elect Rand Paul, today proposed a law that would change air travel procedures significantly.
The law would subject federal TSA employees to the same standards that other citizens must observe where privacy, sexual battery, and other legal issues related to screenings are concerned. In other words, if Paul’s bill becomes law, a TSA agent who gropes a passenger inappropriately will be treated like any other citizen who gropes a passenger inappropriately.
In keeping with his libertarian positions, Paul has frequently asserted that federal employees, including government leaders themselves, should be subject to the same laws, treatment, and privileges as other American citizens.
Paul has also criticized many of the federal government’s measures in the wake of the September 11th attacks of 2001. Paul has said that many provisions of the Patriot Act limited Americans’ liberty while doing little or nothing to increase their security. Paul continued this line of rhetoric today when he called the TSA “a simple-minded and unprincipled attempt to appease public passion in the wake of 9/11.”
Paul says the airlines themselves would be better suppliers of security services, echoing the libertarian idea that private market players should be responsible for filling many current roles of government in the American system.
Other commentators, like conservative blogger Art Carden, have also recently expressed their belief that travel providers have more incentive and more resources to provide better travel security than the federal government.
But many prominent politicians on both sides of the aisle have said the TSA has little choice but to subject passengers to aggressive scanning and pat-downs if it is to maintain security. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, recently said the TSA was in a “damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t position,” because, she says, citizens strongly resent the current screening measures, but would be furious if another terrorist made it through the TSA’s security measures.