Jeffrey Sural

Jeff Sural serves as counsel in the Legislative & Public Policy Group at Alston & Bird, LLP. He will focus his practice on homeland security and transportation matters on Capitol Hill and in federal government agencies.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Sural served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, appointed by Secretary Michael Chertoff in October 2007. There, he served as the Secretary’s primary liaison to the U.S. House of Representatives, and was responsible for advising the Secretary on congressional actions, legislative strategy and hearing preparation.

Mr. Sural has also served at the Transportation Security Administration where he served as the principal advisor for congressional relations and legislative strategy for Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley. In this position, Mr. Sural acted as lead negotiator and counsel for all legislation introduced to Congress, including the “9/11 Commission Recommendations Act.” Mr. Sural has also worked as general and legislative counsel for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Representative Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

‘No-Fly List’ Redress Process Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal court in Oregon this week held that DHS’ “no-fly list” redress process is unconstitutional. Because the list is Security Sensitive Information, the government would not acknowledge the plaintiffs were on the list, but the court concluded that these procedures violated plaintiffs’ due process rights.

Obama’s Soft Touch on Immigration at SOTU

Immigration reform continues to occupy the top of the “must do” and “can do” lists of this Administration and many in Congress. At the State of the Union, circumstances were ripe for the President to mount the bully pulpit to build pressure on House Republicans. Yet, immigration reform received only a passing mention. Why?

After LAX Shooting, Changing How We Talk About TSA

The TSO represents not only our last, but also our most vulnerable, line of defense against attacks on the aviation system. The shooting at LAX last week was an attack on the most public faces of our efforts to protect the homeland. Before the collective policy-making community proposes additional changes or federal mandates, they should lead the effort to change the focus and tenor by which they level criticism against TSA.

Immigration Reform to Challenge Nominee for DHS Secretary

On its face, the President’s announcement of Jeh Johnson’s appointment to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security seems politically questionable. Why throw your untested nominee who has to prepare for and endure a Senate confirmation process into the middle of an immigration reform fight? Because Johnson does not appear to have much of a history in the citizenship or border control policy arenas, questions will focus on how he will implement immigration reform legislation.

After Boston, Is Peter King Vindicated For His ‘Fear Mongering’ Ways?

This week, the House Homeland Security Committee held its hearing examining the Boston Marathon bombing. Parts of the testimony at the hearing focused on the motives of the bombers and the current belief that the brothers Tsarnaev were radicalized Islamists. Congressman Peter King has focus on this issue, for which he has been regularly criticized. Has he been vindicated?

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Drunk Passenger and TSA's Carry-On Policy

The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) most recent decision regarding the prohibited items list has drawn the ire of some in the Congress, as well as the flying public. Critics argue any vulnerability is unacceptable, but from TSA’s risk-based perspective, there are other aviation stakeholders who shoulder the safety responsibility. Recognizing that most people, even those with knives, do not run around stabbing others, from whom does non-explosive threat largely stem? In short, drunks on planes.

Sorry TSA – Some Things Will Never Change

In the old adage, “the only constant is change,” the word “change” could very easily be substituted with: “Congressional excoriation of TSA.” As the 112th Congress drew to a close, I imagine some at the Transportation Security Administration – those who have been there since the beginning – anticipated an end. Not of the Mayan variety, but of the Mica variety. Congressman John Mica may have finished his term as Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, but sorry TSA, this may only be the beginning again.

Underwear Bombs – Making the Case, Again, for Risk-Based Security

The discovery by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the latest iteration of an underwear bomb seemed to provide unsolicited attacks on TSA, and has increased the intensity of the discussion surrounding TSA’s effectiveness or ineptitude, depending on your bias. The press has focused on the success of the CIA – and rightly so – but TSA detractors should be wary to discount the existence of TSA. The current passenger checkpoint screening and machinery have forced al-Qaeda to resort to desperate attempts at bomb concealment with far less explosive impact.

Kip Hawley's Suggested TSA Reforms and "Permanent Emergency"

Complaints about the TSA are numerous and perpetual. Everyone from the Congressional committees who created TSA to self-described security experts to the most recently inconvenienced passenger has a story, and an opinion, about what needs to be changed. But when a thoughtful critique, and significant suggestions for reform, come from someone who led the agency for three-plus years, we may finally be getting somewhere. Former TSA Administrator Kip Hawley’s piece this weekend in the Wall Street Journal should have excited anyone who follows the travails of TSA. Mostly silent on the subject since he left in 2009 as the fourth TSA administrator, Kip unleashed a whopper of a critique.