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TSA Chief Pistole Pressed to Expand Private Screeners

March 13, 2012

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration must implement a mandate in recent aviation legislation that more airports be allowed to convert to private checkpoint screeners, three House members said.

The TSA must reissue guidelines for acting on airport requests and “begin the process of converting the screening program from its current model,” Republican Representatives John Mica of Florida, Darrell Issa of California and Jason Chaffetz of Utah said in a letter to Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole.

The lawmakers reminded Pistole he told a House committee in February that he would work with Congress to improve the private-screening program, which he froze in 2011.

“Your commitment to comply with both the spirit and intent of the new law is welcomed,” the lawmakers wrote.

Mica, who is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, appeared earlier today at Orlando Sanford International Airport, which has asked the TSA to reconsider its application for private screeners.

Mica championed the change in the law, included in legislation to set policy for the Federal Aviation Administration that Congress passed in February.

Under the law, the TSA must allow airports to switch to private companies for screeners unless it can show the move wouldn’t be cost-effective and would be detrimental to security.

Mica is also writing to approximately 200 U.S. airports today, advising them of their right to opt out of using screeners employed by the TSA, said Justin Harclerode, spokesman for the transportation committee.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at

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