When officials who head up a federal agency created and funded by Congress no longer feel obligated to appear before the congressional committee charged with overseeing the function of that agency, a situation of genuine tyranny exists.
Enter John Pistole, the Obama Administration’s head of the notorious Transportation Security Agency. He is not only refusing to appear before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, but he’s even gone so far as to declare that said congressional committee possesses “no jurisdiction over the TSA.”
That’s more than just arrogance; that’s a dangerous precedent to set.
We don’t answer to you or anyone
According to the committee’s website, Pistole was requested to appear before the panel’s subcommittee on Aviation Nov. 28, to provide testimony at a hearing titled, “How Best to Improve Our Nation’s Airport Passenger Security System Through Common Sense Solutions.”
Chaired by Rep. Thomas Petri, R-Wis., the focus of the hearing was to “examine the impact that the regulations and policies of the Transportation Security Administration have on aviation passenger experience and the free flow of aviation commerce,” according to a summary posted on the panel’s website.
Despite being requested by a duly authorized congressional committee, Pistole, via a statement issued by the agency on its website, refused to comply:
By U.S. House of Representatives rules which state that the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has no jurisdiction over the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), no representative from TSA will be present at the Subcommittee on Aviation hearing scheduled for Nov. 29.
TSA will continue to work with its committees of jurisdiction to pursue effective and efficient security solutions. In the 112th Congress alone, TSA witnesses have testified at 38 hearings and provided 425 briefings for Members of Congress.
TSA also continues to work to enhance security screening measures and to improve the passenger experience including through the expansion of [an agency pre-check program]. As part of its risk-based security initiatives, TSA has modified screening procedures for passengers 12 and under and 75 and older while pursuing a multi-layered approach to security that includes behavior detection officers, explosives-detection systems and federal air marshals, among other measures both seen and unseen.
House Republicans on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have long said the expansive and haughty agency is in need of major reform since its hasty creation in the pandemonium of the immediate post-9/11 era. A section on the panel’s website describes the agency as “a massive, inflexible, backward-looking bureaucracy of more than 65,000.”
“TSA is a top-heavy agency in need of reform,” says the site.
The Transportation committee is currently chaired by Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who has been a consistent, vocal critic of the TSA and who has pushed for airports to stop using the agency and instead employ private security screeners.
Mica wrote the legislation that created the agency; he has recently declared it to be a miserable failure.
Defund the TSA
In the upcoming 113th Congress, which convenes Jan. 9, Mica steps down and will be replaced by Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania. When asked by reporters for a reaction to the TSA’s refusal to show up and testify at the scheduled hearing, as well as the agency’s declaration it did not fall under the auspices of the committee, Shuster explained: “I don’t think we have direct jurisdiction but when they impede commerce, when they impede the traveling public, they need to answer to the committee.”
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Shuster said he “absolutely” expects the agency’s officials to appear at Transportation committee hearings. When asked what he would do if they refuse, Shuster was cryptic: “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
As we’ve reported often – and will continue to do so – the TSA is a rogue agency being run by unelected bureaucrats who believe they don’t have to answer to anyone – the public, which has grown tired and wary of the behavior of its agents, or the elected congressional representatives charged with overseeing it.
No bureaucracy is above reproach. Congress has the power of the purse strings; it should exercise that power and defund the TSA.