Air Travel, Security

Is It Time for Another Way with the TSA?

As someone who has blogged quite frequently in the past about the TSA, I can’t help but comment on the latest news about the agency. In case you missed it, the chief of the Transportation Services Administration was “reassigned” based on an embarrassing report that documented persistent and considerable failures in airport security screening.

The report alleges TSA officials failed to stop undercover agents carrying fake explosives and banned weapons a remarkable 67 out of 70 instances.

Reflect on that for a minute: The TSA, a government agency with a $7 Billion budget that employs 45,000 screeners tasked with securing our airports, failed to detect a security breach 95.7% of the time.

To be fair, the tests were conducted by the “Red Team,” a group of undercover federal agents working for the Department of Homeland Security, whose job it is to devise security breach scenarios designed to keep the screeners sharp. Former TSA Administrator John Pistole told Congress in 2013 that because the Red Team is so familiar with TSA policies, they are able to get past security in ways not even the best of terrorists would be able to do. Even so, to fail at a rate of 95% is far beyond reasonable. And I’m not sure some of the scenarios were all that advanced. The report sighted an instance when the magnetometer went off, but in the subsequent pat down a bomb-like device taped to the Red Team member’s back was undetected by the TSA agent.

Does that sound like something a terrorist wouldn’t be able to figure out?

Come to think of it, while I remember lots of articles sighting instances of aggressive pat downs, I don’t recall any of them involving the back. The groin and chest areas –  yes – but the back, not so much.

Now, if you’re as shocked and alarmed as I am, fear not. The TSA has been instructed to immediately implement a series of actions addressing the issues raised in the report.

(How about this one for starters: “When the machine beeps, PAY ATTENTION!!!”)  

Snide remarks aside, as a taxpayer who ultimately helps fund this mess, I’m disgusted. 

I have to think we would get better results by taking this $7 Billion and outsourcing airport security to the private sector. I can’t fathom a scenario in which they wouldn’t perform better than the TSA, and if they don’t, at least they would be fired – not “reassigned.”

What do you think? Should we continue on the same course, or is it time for a change?  Drop a note and let us know what you think.