Sen. Rand Paul knows how to fix the TSA: end it

Freshman Sen. Rand Paul, backed by GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, aims to abolish the TSA – and its intrusive searches of air travelers – and to establish a passenger bill of rights.

Jae C. Hong/AP/File
Activist Lori Lamb distributes stickers to travelers to protest TSA's security procedures at Los Angeles International Airport, which went into effect in late 2010.

Forget the Fed, for now – Sen. Rand Paul wants to shut down the TSA.

The Kentucky Republican is drafting legislation to end the Transportation Safety Administration and to establish a passenger bill of rights, according to a spokesman from his office. When those bills hit, they'll likely be accompanied by a deluge of signatures from a petition campaign launched by the Campaign for Liberty, the grassroots and lobbying organization once chaired by the senator's father, Ron Paul. Paul stepped down from his honorary chairmanship to mount his presidential campaign.

Paul the elder, the Texas congressman and gadfly presidential candidate, is famous for his campaign to end the Federal Reserve along with five government departments – Education, Energy, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce – and has long called for abolishing the TSA, too. (For a "big dog" take on Ron Paul's proposed cuts, see this ad.)

Paul the younger's petition to end the TSA cites several mortal sins for the agency:

  • The TSA does not make us more secure; it simply wastes time and money.
  • The TSA has set up rules and procedures that harass ordinary citizens at the expense of actually finding terrorists.
  • Private security should handle airport checkpoints.
  • Toddlers, mothers with small babies, grandparents, and the disabled are all being harassed while simply trying to board an airplane.
  • Our constitutional rights are being violated every day by an out-of-control agency that was created in a misguided attempt to interject government into a place it was not needed.

What's are the chances of Senator Paul's TSA-ending bill becoming law? About the same as his unsuccessful amendment to the postal reform bill that would have ended government tyranny over individual mailboxes.

Still, Paul might be onto something with the petition. On one libertarian issue, at least, a petition got the White House's attention.

The White House has its own petition site, We The People, where it responds to petitions that garner more than 25,000 signatures in 30 days. (Your blogger has signed one – and only one – asking the federal government to mandate the end of the notorious "check engine" light in favor of diagnostics that actually tell you something. Sadly, that petition didn't make the 25,000 signature mark.)

Poking through the petitions therein, it's pretty clear that ending the TSA is far from the most quixotic petition out there. Nearly 27,000 folks want the FDA to have nothing to do with regulating "premium cigars," more than 100,000 want the White House to respond to their argument that the Sea of Japan should be called the East Sea ... and so on and so forth.

The White House has responded to petitions on working to conserve and sustainably manage sharks, and urged responsible pet ownership to avoid pet homelessness, and explained why it can't intervene in the Casey Anthony case.

Yet petitions of a libertarian bent got the administration's attention on one of libertarians' pet issues: raw milk. Both Pauls have introduced legislation to lift an intrastate ban on the transportation of raw milk. So, FDA, your move:

"The FDA has never taken, nor does it intend to take, enforcement action against an individual who purchases and transports raw milk across state lines solely for his or her own personal consumption," writes Doug McKalip, a senior policy adviser for rural affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council, in the White House response to the petition.

Take heart, Paul fans.

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