The The Washington Post reports on the front page tomorrow that he Transportation Security Administration, once the flagship agency in the nation’s $20 billion effort to protect air travelers, is now slated for dismantling.
Stunning, really, that Washington has finally been able to look at a massive federal program and target it for elimination. As a frequent traveler I’m all in favor of tough and strict passenger and baggage screening, I’ve never been a big fan of the TSA as it was designed an implemented.
“We need to step back and look at the billions of dollars we spent on the system, which doesn’t provide much more protection than we had before 9/11,” said Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), referring to tests conducted by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General that gave a “poor” rating to TSA screeners for their ability to catch weapons at the checkpoint. Mica, a key lawmaker who helped write the law that created the agency and chairs the House aviation subcommittee, would like to see private contractors take over screening jobs at airports. “TSA was something we put in place in an emergency, but it needs to evolve. You could whittle TSA down to a very small organization and do a much better job.”
From a logical and practical perspective it’s always seemed to me that the TSA was a giant public funded placebo. Security wasn’t much better, even with that addition of several more layers of screening and technology.
The 9/11 hijackers commandeered planes with box cutters; but do you think that could happen again today? Probably not, but not because of the billions spent on the TSA or changes to the screening process. The real change is that airline personnel and the flying public are much more security aware than pre 9/11. Things we thought we knew about hijacking turned out not to be true, so the policy of not actively resisting a hijacking attempts has thankfully been changed.
In practice it turns out that people are both the strongest and weakest links in the security chain. If the TSA is to evolve it needs to evolve in ways that maximize the contributions of people like air marshals whose ranks have been decimated by morale problems brought on by inane work conditions mandated by TSA management.
TSA Slated for Dismantling [WP]