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House resolution calls for end to 'invasive' TSA searches

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 15 2012 6:04 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Could the Transportation Security Administration's "invasive" searches of passengers at the nation's airports lead to a further loss of personal liberties?

That's the question that Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, hopes to raise with a new resolution seeking both a stop to body scans and pat-downs by the federal agency and a Congressional investigation.

"If they can do that, what can't they do?" Ivory asked. "Can you imagine George Washington or Thomas Jefferson going to the airport and saying, 'Go ahead and stick your hand down my pants. I need to get where I'm going?'"

Ivory said HCR3, introduced Tuesday, may just be a first step to stop what he sees as the conditioning of Americans "to just submit" to the federal government. "Our liberties are being conditioned away," he said.

His resolution wouldn't mandate any changes in how TSA conducts searches at the airport, instead "strongly urging" the agency "to adopt less invasive but equally effective" procedures.

Congress is urged in the resolution to investigate policies that may violate privacy rights and address the safety and other concerns about the use of full-body scans.

The scans, and the pat-downs that are offered as an alternative, are labeled by the resolution as "offensive and humiliating" to all travelers and potentially physically harmful to frequent fliers, pregnant women and children.

Similar concerns already have been raised in Congress by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, an outspoken opponant of body scans and other TSA procedures, including pat-downs of children.

The ACLU has also taken issue with the agency. ACLU of Utah Executive Director Karen McCreary said the organization "has not yet seen any specific language of the resolution but we are supportive of efforts to limit TSA security policies that unreasonably intrude on Americans' civil liberties and privacy."

A spokeswoman for TSA said the agency does not comment on pending legislation. Earlier this week, the Salt Lake City International Airport began offering TSA's expedited screening process to some frequent travelers.

Ivory said his wife won't fly with him anymore because he makes a point of asking TSA agents if they have probable cause to search him and his belongings. But he said in the end, he goes through the security screenings.

He said a number of other states are considering similar resolutions.

House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, suggested there's not much chance of the resolution changing the security procedures.

"The state's going to have very little influence or control over it," Lockhart said. But, she added, "It's still important the states have our will heard."

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com

Twitter: dnewspolitics

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