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House Panels Call for TSA Overhaul

3 mins read
TSA photo

Prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, airport security and screening was handled the private sector.

Since then, airport security has been handled by the Transportation Security Administration, an agency composed of a federal workforce to screen all commercial airline passengers and baggage, which was created as part of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act.

Today, this federal workforce is composed of more than 65,000 members, called Transportation Security Officers or TSOs. In more than 450 airports nationwide, TSOs screen approximately 1.7 million passengers each day.

Recently, the TSA, which has more than tripled in size throughout the last decade, has emerged as a fresh target for many members of Congress.

On Nov. 16, a report titled, “A Decade Later: A Call for TSA Reform,” was released by the House Transportation Committee in conjunction with the House Oversight Committee, which they believe highlights a “decade of TSA mismanagement and failures.”

The report calls for a complete overhaul of current security agency. Some of its claims/findings include:

  • TSA staff grown by nearly 400 percent, from 16,500 to more than 65,000 since 2001.
  • TSA has spent nearly $57 billion to secure the U.S. transportation network throughout the last decade.
  • More than 25,000 security breaches have occurred in the last decade, despite a massive presence.
  • The TSA spent $39 million on 207 Explosive Trace Detection Portals, however only 101 were deployed because the machines “could not consistently detect explosives in an operational environment.”
  • The TSA is sitting on approximately 650 state-of-the-art AT-2 carry-on baggage screening machines, totaling around $97 million in technology that have not yet been deployed.

“Unfortunately, TSA has lost its way.  TSA must become the kind of agency it was intended to be – a thinking, risk-based, flexible agency that analyzes risks, sets security standards and audits security performance,” wrote Chairman John Mica (R-FL).

In a response, the TSA wrote, “There is no doubt that America’s aviation system is safer, stronger, and more secure than ever. In the past decade, TSA established a highly trained federal workforce that has safely screened over 5 billion passengers, detected roughly 50 million prohibited items, and established a national standard of security from curb to cockpit.”

Republicans have argued that TSOs should not be allowed to unionize. However, the Obama administration has already allocated limited bargaining rights for TSOs. This is seen as a victory for the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, the two largest federal unions.

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  1. America need to get a grip.
    3000 people killed 9/11/01 – 10 YEARS ago
    2 unsuccessful attempts in 10 years.
    3000 people killed EACH MONTH since 9/11/01 – about 350,000
    More people died from peanut butter, bee stings, and bathtub accidents in the last 10 years.
    We’re chasing a boogeyman and this is no way to catch him.
    8 billion a year? Lunacy!
    Let the airlines protect their own property.

    The entire TSA should be folded up and moved to North Korea!

  2. A little perspective, please. 16,500 employees in 2001? TSA didn’t even EXIST on 9/11/2001. Also, TSA did not have screeners in a single airport in 2001. Those statistics are obviously off. Also, not all TSA employees are screeners. TSA does NOT have 65,000 screeners. The article also fails to take into account TSA is involved with transportation methods besides airlines and airports. TSA is a darned-if-you-do and darned-if-you-don’t Catch 22. Deploy technology rapidly and you’re slammed for not conducting sufficient reviews. Deploy technology too slowly, and you’re slammed for sitting on technology. Odd how the article fails to mention the number of LOADED guns kept off of airplanes, or highlight what can happen if we give away security to another entity, like a contractor or foreign government. It wasn’t TSA that missed the Fruit of the Boom Undie Bomber – it was the Government of the Netherlands. And while TSA may have “tripled” in size over the past decade (disputable, btw), show me an organization that can be tasked with covering more geographic territories and more methods of transport WITHOUT expanding its employee base. And as for not having caught a single terrorist, security’s other mission besides apprehending malevolents is also to serve as a deterrence. The problem with gauging deterrence is that you cannot measure a non-event. Perhaps the fact that we’ve had more than 10 years without a successful terrorist incident is measure enough to speak for TSA’s SUCCESS. Next time, a little perspective, please.

  3. The TSA is a criminal, out-of-control agency that abuses people with impunity. It hasn’t caught or thwarted a single potential attacker in its multi-billion-dollar history.

    Pistole and Napolitano are its sick, twisted ringleaders. They should be fired — after being forced to go through a few gropes themselves — and the entire agency dismantled.

    But I’m not holding my breath. Congress is craven, the president clueless (after all, his wife and children don’t have to get stripped or groped), and half the population willfully ignorant.

    A colleague and I have kept track of accounts of abuse for the past 20 months, and they are legion:


    You’re more likely to drown in your bathtub than be killed in a terrorist attack. To be struck by lightning. To choke on a sandwich. And certainly to be killed in a car accident. But empirical evidence, risk assessment, statistical analysis, security experts, logic — none of it matters to the United Sheeple of America. “The Terrorists! The Terrorists Are Everywhere!”

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