Sunday, March 6, 2016

Why not? "Congressional Directive to Deploy AIT"

As part of our continuing series on the public's comments about why the TSA should not use naked scanners, here is the TSA's summary in a section titled, "Congressional Directive to Deploy AIT [Advanced Imaging Technology, aka naked scanners" (Part E).

Some commenters addressed the 2004 congressional directive discussed in the NPRM regarding the development and deployment of new screening equipment. An individual commenter noted that this congressional direction specifically included the investment in and deployment of AIT. Other commenters, however, stated that TSA’s implementation of AIT is inconsistent with congressional direction.
Specifically, a privacy advocacy group stated that TSA’s deployment of AIT is inconsistent with a qualifier in the congressional directive–that the agency develop equipment to detect threats that terrorists would likely try to smuggle aboard an air carrier aircraft. The commenter stated that TSA has demonstrated an overly broad
interpretation of the congressional authorization and that, although the agency repeatedly cites AIT’s abilities to identify weapons, the NPRM does not establish how such weapons are likely to be smuggled aboard planes by terrorists. The commenter further stated that TSA must analyze and evaluate AIT and alternatives regarding the ability to detect weapons and explosives likely to be used by terrorists, and demonstrate that AIT best achieves that goal with concrete evidence. The commenter stated that the analysis on which TSA currently relies fails to do either satisfactorily. 
One individual commenter stated that a congressional directive is insufficient to supplant TSA’s duty to make a reasoned decision regarding the use of AIT. An individual commenter expressed concern that TSA did not act in accordance with the congressional direction because the agency acted without either public input or independent testing, and pursued a technology the commenter stated was purchased as part of a “corrupt deal.” Another individual commenter stated that Congress authorized TSA to procure and deploy AIT only as a secondary screening tool at security checkpoints–not as a primary means of screening. Other individual commenters stated that even if Congress has authorized the proposed deployment of AIT, the proposed use of AIT is not necessarily legal or the appropriate course of action, and TSA was not performing the agency’s own due diligence in trying to restrain the executive and legislative branches subsequent to congressional direction.