A Look at the TSA

Written by John F. McManus
Friday, 26 November 2010 00:00

In 2005, the federal 9th Circuit Court ruled that TSA procedures do not violate a passenger’s right to be secure from search and seizure as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. This ruling has yet to be overturned.

James Loy, once the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, became the first administrator at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). He claims that, while necessary, the TSA is not exactly what was envisioned when it was created in the aftermath of the September 2001 attacks.

He looks back and comments: “We armed pilots. We put in hardened cockpit doors. We did what we did at the checkpoints.”

Loy’s guarded approval of TSA doesn’t completely square with the decidedly negative view registered by Steve Elson, a veteran of the Federal Aviation Administration’s red team, which tests airport security, even prior to 9/11. An early TSA assignment had him test detection ability by taking weapons and bomb material secretly through airport security. He claims 100-percent success. What about now? Elson says, “As bad as security was back then, it’s worse now. [The TSA] is a big façade.” In 2006, security screeners at Los Angeles International failed to identify 75 percent of fake bombs, and 60 percent of similar fake material made it through Chicago O’Hare screeners.

Congressman John Mica (R-Fla.) helped to design and create the TSA in 2001. He wanted the private sector to be involved, but TSA immediately became a monopoly that he now labels “a bloated, ineffective bureaucracy with over 66,000 employees,” with an annual cost that has ballooned from $.7 billion to $6.9 billion in 2010. As a member of the House Transportation Committee, Mica wrote to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in May 2010 calling for an “immediate reevaluation and reorganization of the TSA, an agency teetering on the verge of disaster.” He based some of his negative view on the GAO’s report that TSA had bungled the development and deployment of the detection program known as Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT). The SPOT program failed to identify 17 known terrorists who travelled through eight SPOT airports in the United States on 23 different occasions, including Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber whose attack failed.

The veteran Florida Congressman also pointed out that the law creating the TSA contains an “opt-out provision” enabling an airport to reject TSA and hire private security personnel.

Read More at The New American

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