June 29, 2012

The Transportation Security Administration might be allowed to grope airline passengers in the name of homeland security — but using software to spy on its employees’ computer activity is going too far, said a pair of House Democrats.

In a letter obtained by POLITICO, Reps. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas call for the TSA to scrap plans to buy software that keeps tabs on a wide range of agency employee electronic communications. Thompson and Lee are worried the software would give the agency a powerful tool to track and root out whistleblowers.

“Clearly, the need to assure that employees are able to provide information to Congress or investigative entities within the federal government has long been recognized,” the lawmakers wrote to TSA Administrator John Pistole. “Thus, the nature of TSA’s recently issued solicitation appears to contradict with well-settled policies concerning the ability of federal employees to communicate with investigative authorities without fear of retaliation.”

“It is difficult to see how this serious infringement of constitutionally protected rights would provide a concomitant increase in the nation’s security,” the lawmakers added.

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