ACLU Submits Statement On Aviation Security To Key Senate Committees

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

ACLU Submits Statement On Aviation Security To Key Senate Committees

WASHINGTON - The
American Civil Liberties Union submitted testimony to three key Senate
committees who are meeting today to discuss counterterrorism and
airline security in the wake of the attempted Christmas Day attack. The
Senate Judiciary Committee, the Homeland Security and Government
Affairs Committee and the Commerce, Science and Transportation
Committee will hear from government officials on counterterrorism
strategy and aviation safety.

 
In
the wake of the attempted attack, the government has announced
intensified airport screening of the citizens of 14 nations flying to
the United States and there have been calls for the across-the-board
implementation of full body scanners for all travelers. In its
statement, the ACLU expressed its strong concern over the substantive
policy changes being considered, including the expanded use of terror
watch lists. The ACLU believes that each of these technologies greatly
infringes on civil liberties and faces serious questions regarding
their efficacy in protecting airline travelers.
 
“The
government must act quickly to take all reasonable steps to close any
holes in our security, but it must also act wisely and in a manner
consistent with our values,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, acting director
of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “All of these policies
should be thoroughly debated regarding their efficacy in protecting air
travelers and combating terrorism. New security technologies must be
genuinely effective, rather than merely creating a false sense of
security, and must minimize privacy violations. We need to ensure that
the government enacts procedures that are effective and do not
unnecessarily infringe upon our civil liberties.”
 
The ACLU also pointed out that the efficacy of whole
body imaging (WBI) devices, racial profiling and our watch lists must
be weighed against both their impact on civil liberties and their
impact on the U.S. ability to implement other security measures. The
size of our watch list creates numerous false positives, wastes
resources and hides the real threats to aviation security, while
targeting innocent people. WBI machines, which create strikingly
revealing images of the human body, are extremely expensive and a
British government study concluded they would not work to
comprehensively defend against terrorist threats. Racial profiling,
while an assault on the American principle of equal treatment, is
ineffective and, worse still, counterproductive to counterterrorism
strategies. The time and money spent on these questionable policies is
time and money not spent on intelligence analysis or other law
enforcement activity.
 
“Though
Congress feels enormous pressure to ‘do something,’ there is no one
measure or magic solution, and carelessly surrendering constitutional
principles and American values is never the answer,” said Christopher
Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel. “Invasive screening mechanisms,
enlarging already bloated watch lists, targeting on the basis of
national origin – none of these approaches goes to the heart of what
went wrong on Christmas Day. They are a dangerous sideshow – one that
harms our civil liberties and ultimately makes us less safe.”
 

 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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