The TSA as we know it can’t die soon enough


Hear, hear! Anyone who follows Bruce Schneier and his book Beyond Fear knows that the reason air travel is safer today is less about the TSA taking away your nail clippers and more about reinforced, locking cockpit doors and the common understanding among passengers that if your plane is hijacked in a post 9/11 world then you man the fuck up and fight to the death.

The TSA as we know it is dead – here’s why

If you don’t believe the TSA is doomed after watching yesterday’s House Aviation Subcommittee hearing, then you’ll have to at least agree that the agency as we know can’t continue to exist as it does.

For starters, TSA Administrator John Pistole refused to testify before the committee on the innocuous subject of “common sense” improvements to America’s airport security, reportedly because the committee has no jurisdiction over his agency. (That’s odd – I always thought Congress funded the federal government, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention during government class.)

One by one, panelists took turns excoriating the agency charged with protecting America’s transportation systems. It was plainly clear why Pistole was a no-show, and it had nothing to do with jurisdiction; it would have been an openly hostile crowd.

Charles Edwards, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting inspector general, described the TSA as bureaucratic and dysfunctional. Stephen Lord of the Government Accountability Office, suggested the agency was ignoring the thousands of complaints from air travelers. And Kenneth Dunlap, who represented the International Air Transport Association, criticized the current TSA as expensive, inconsistent, and reactive.

“As this mushrooming agency has spun out of control,” the committee chairman, John Mica, concluded, “passengers have not been well served.”

The congressmen present in the hearing agreed with many of the criticisms, but it’s the solutions that would have sent Pistole running for the exits. On the conservative end, critics recommended aggressively reforming the TSA to create a smaller, more responsive agency that fulfills its mission of protecting and serving air travelers.

But some went much further. Charlie Leocha of the Consumer Travel Alliance, who represented the interests of air travelers on the committee, said the TSA should not just be downsized, but also limited to protecting only air travel (something it currently isn’t).

2 replies »

  1. It isn’t limited to protecting air travel, because it’s the “Transportation Security Administration,” not the “Air Transportation Security Administration.” And they’re pretty traveler friendly with all the other forms of mass transportation. They hassle the fuck out of you in every airport because the politics of stupidity pretty much insists that they must, even as politicians fearing the bedlam of another major incident feign outcry on behalf of the public. I don’t know John Pistole. If I were an administrator tasked with overseeing TSA security measures, I’d probably throw up my hands to whatever committee called upon me for an explanation and tell them to go fuck themselves, because I’m nothing but a political tool in a position of trying to comply with whatever inane measures the politicians dream up in order to protect their seats on all of their stupid fucking committees.

    • Ha! All very true. Also, if you read further down the article you’ll see that one of the proposed outcomes of downsizing TSA is to move to more “pre-screening,” meaning the use of intelligence data to vet travelers before they even check in for their flight. So while most travelers feel that the general public shouldn’t be groped, radiated or otherwise humiliated, they’ll gleefully accept the government crawling up the ass of “those people” whom the government deems dangerous. Watch as that list of folks grows and grows.

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