Saturday, November 30, 2013

The TSA-holes Have Got To Go

Is the TSA doing anything of value that couldn't be done better, and more inexpensively, by private companies?
U.S. airport screening is run by the unionized Transportation Security Administration, which has a reputation for intrusive pat downs and inept management. Former TSA chief Kip Hawley called the agency "hopelessly bureaucratic." And studies have found that TSA security performance is no better, and possibly worse, than private-sector screening, which is allowed at only a handful of U.S. airports.

The TSA has a penchant for wasting money on useless activities, leaving it less to spend on things that benefit travelers, such as more screening stations. For example, a new Government Accountability Office report finds that TSA spends $200 million a year on a program to spot terrorists by their suspicious behavior — yet the program simply does not work.

Congress should move responsibility for screening to the airports, and allow them to contract out to expert security firms. Private firms would be able to flexibly adjust their workforces to reduce congestion, and they would end low-value procedures that wasted passenger time.
Is there anyone out there who truly believes that the TSA is making air travel safe?  Passengers have done more to stop terrorists (underwear bomber, shoe bomber) than the TSA has--unless you genuinely worry about Disney World snowglobes and shampoo.

Is there anyone out there who truly believes that keeping a paraplegic out of the country keeps us safe?
Ellen Richardson went to Pearson airport on Monday full of joy about flying to New York City and from there going on a 10-day Caribbean cruise for which she’d paid about $6,000.
But a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent with the Department of Homeland Security killed that dream when he denied her entry.
“I was turned away, I was told, because I had a hospitalization in the summer of 2012 for clinical depression,’’ said Richardson, who is a paraplegic and set up her cruise in collaboration with a March of Dimes group of about 12 others.
The Weston woman was told by the U.S. agent she would have to get “medical clearance’’ and be examined by one of only three doctors in Toronto whose assessments are accepted by Homeland Security. She was given their names and told a call to her psychiatrist “would not suffice.’’
At the time, Richardson said, she was so shocked and devastated by what was going on, she wasn’t thinking about how U.S. authorities could access her supposedly private medical information
How is our "homeland security" enhanced by such stupidity?  Only in government....


Auntie Ann said...

LAX had some additional security theater about a week ago (there was a shooting there recently, after all). When driving in, there were police standing there waving you through. They probably were pulling over one car every 15 minutes or something, but I didn't see any pulled over.

I know I felt safer! Did it make you feel safer? Boy, I sure did!

Anonymous said...

I initially felt the same way, but I have been traveling a lot recently and that has changed my mind. Given two planes, one with TSA-screened passengers and one without, I'm always going to pick the one with TSA-screened passengers. How about you? I'm sure the TSA has caught people, but each person they catch isn't going to make the headlines.

With regards to private companies doing the screening -- they have no motivation to ensure safety. Their *only* goal is to maximize profit. Unless you're prepared to say that every private company out there is going to place safety and reliability over profit, I think this is a fairly straightforward decision.

I'm not saying the TSA is perfect, but at least we know their only motivation is security.

"Is there anyone out there who truly believes that the TSA is making air travel safe?" I would change that last word to "safer", but yes. And probably many of those who fly regularly would agree.