Sensitive Security Information and Transportation Security: Issues and Congressional Options
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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As a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed legislation creating the Transportation Security Administration TSA. The agency was charged with making improvements to the countrys transportation security systems and protecting against future terrorist attacks. TSA was also given the authority to establish regulations for protecting certain information from public disclosure. These regulations govern sensitive security information, or SSI. The purpose of the SSI regulations is to restrict information relative to future terrorist attacks. TSAs application of the SSI regulations has, however, resulted in some controversies over airport security procedures, employee accountability, passenger screening, and airport secrecy agreements. Some experts believe that too much information has been kept from the public in these circumstances. TSA states, however, that protecting SSI is warranted because of the need to protect transportation systems. The regulations pertaining to SSI are exempt from Freedom of Information Act disclosure. A fundamental issue in this controversy is the tension between securing the nations transportation systems and keeping the public informed. This report provides background information on and analysis of issues concerning the SSI regulations. Additionally, it identifies the transportation security and information issues at the heart of this debate. Finally, the report outlines and assesses policy options for Congress, including endorsing current regulations, giving greater specificity to TSAs protection requirements, setting time limits for protection, creating an advisory commission, requiring periodic congressional briefings, or establishing an oversight board.
- Government and Political Science
- Civil Defense
- Commercial and General Aviation
- Surface Transportation and Equipment