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  • TSA’s Bloated Bureaucracy: House Calls for Much-Needed Reform

    Yesterday, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on the state of the Transportation Security Administration 11 years after 9/11. Appearing before the committee, my colleague James Jay Carafano explained:

    It is certainly fitting that we pause to reflect on the state of transportation security on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, but it is even more appropriate that this hearing is taking place during what has been a fairly unremarkable year in terms of transportation security. For it was on a quiet, unremarkable autumn morning that America was attacked. The best way to prevent more days like 9/11 is to spend our unremarkable days preparing—doing what we can to continue to keep this nation safe, free, and prosperous.

    Created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was charged with ensuring the security of the nation’s transportation systems and protecting the traveling public. Nearly 11 years later, however, TSA is struggling to both understand and meet its mission. As the Subcommittee on Transportation Security of the Committee on Homeland Security explained in its Majority Staff Report released yesterday:

    Congress provided TSA with the flexibility to set policies and procedures for screening people and goods as they moved through our transportation systems. Unfortunately, that flexibility has been exploited by TSA in recent years. Its operations are in many cases costly, counterintuitive, and poorly executed. Despite the reality that we have not endured another successful terrorist attack since 2001, TSA is failing to meet taxpayers’ expectations.

    To begin to address these issues, the subcommittee proposed that TSA work toward rebuilding a smarter, leaner organization by advancing risk-based security, upholding the Constitution, limiting spending, creating private-sector jobs, and cutting red tape.

    Indeed, the subcommittee is right. To ensure that TSA meets its mission to protect the nation’s transportation sector, reform is needed. Congress should press TSA to sharpen its mission focus, gain greater efficiency in operations, and more effectively manage its workforce.

    This means that the Department of Homeland Security must remember the best way to prevent terrorists from exploiting or threatening our infrastructure is to disrupt their networks and operations before they are implemented. TSA should remain fully integrated with national counterterrorism efforts to thwart terrorist travel and exploitation of transportation infrastructure. TSA should also work to better adopt and integrate a risk-based approach to transportation security to make sure it is adopting the right balance of operational capabilities. This means expanding low-cost effective security programs, such as the Federal Flight Deck Officers program, and cutting those that aren’t effective. TSA should also recognize that privatization of airport screening makes sense from both an economic and security perspective and can improve the overall travel experience.

    The Administration should take a hard look at TSA. The nation doesn’t need a massive, bloated bureaucracy. It’s time the Administration redefines the mission of TSA and implements much-needed reform.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to TSA’s Bloated Bureaucracy: House Calls for Much-Needed Reform

    1. End it, don't reform it. Why can't stupid government programs like the TSA just go away? Look how long we've suffered with the Dept of Energy, the Dept of Education, or the Rural Electrification Administration (which was finally decades after it should have been defunded, was renamed the Rural Utilities Service within the USDA.) End the TSA!

    2. panhead20 says:

      The frequency of attempted terrorist attacks in the United States are something less than 1 per year ( or 1 in 10 years based on recent history) yet we are spending in excess of $8 billion dollars each year on TSA security during a time when our tax dollars need to be conserved. Not only are we spending excessive amounts of tax dollars on TSA but TSA is destructive of our very basic freedoms.

      I believe that we in fact do need security but do not believe that TSA's style of security is the solution. There is no need to physically assault people in order to travel. There is no need to harass people in order to travel. There is no reason for TSA to treat citizens and guest to this country as criminals or terrorist in order to travel.

      "Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart."
      Justice Robert Jackson, chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials

      T – Terrorists
      S – Searching
      A – Americans

    3. Bill Fisher says:

      The lasting tragedy of 9/11 is the damage that the unscrupulous fear mongers at TSA have done to our rights and values. They co-opt 9/11 to justify their existence and abuses even though over half of their screeners were working for the private security firms when it happened.

      In 2008 who would have believed that people would allow a stranger to view a naked image of their child or permit the equivalent of a mall cop to rub their child’s privates in the middle of an airport?

      Nearly a million people died defending the liberties that have been stripped away by TSA in the name of safety without providing any value. It is disgraceful that the government that is supposed to defend the Constitution is complicit in its destruction and that Americans dishonor the fallen by acquiescing to this.

      Granting unbounded authority to TSA and it bureaucrats has led to wide spread and recurrent abuse of innocent airline passengers and their children. There have been thousands of reports of excessive and punitive searches that are amount to nothing more than gratuitous harassment of innocent people.

      TSA operates with complete immunity and there a no consequences for abusing their authority. TSA is the sole arbiter of complaints leaving no avenue of redress for those who have been abused by the agency.

      In the past two months 35 TSA workers fired or arrested and 66 more disciplined for misconduct. There were 98 TSA workers arrested in the last 20 months including 12 arrested for child sex crimes, over 26 for theft, 12 for smuggling contraband through security and one for murder.

      A known pedophile, Thomas Harkins, was exposed three months ago but remains employed as a TSA Supervisor in Philadelphia with access to children. What kind of agency allows a known pedophile access to children?

      It is unacceptable for any agency to be authorized to act contrary to the Constitution and the law. Both TSA and DHS need to be dismantled and their duties assigned to responsible and accountable agencies subject to strict Congressional and judicial oversight.

      TSA has done more damage to our way of life and human rights than Al Qaeda could ever have hoped to do and Pistole and Napolitano have been their accomplices.

    4. Business Traveler says:

      1970-2000, there were over 30 passenger aircraft bombings and that doesn't even count the numbers of hijackings. 2002-2012, there have been zero domestic bombings or hijackings. As much as I don't like defending fed agency's, the facts don't lie and as much ad you may not want believe it, the TSA
      has been successful.
      That said, I do think there should be reform, but turning it over to a private entity or the airlines!!??? That's how we got in this mess in the first place! Private airport screeners allowed and even helped 911 occur. We cant go back to the security for profit model. It didn't work then and it doesnt work now. Look at the problems SFO has been having! Hundreds of SFO private screeners have blown the whistle on the dangerous practices there. Apparently, SFO has allowed hundreds of checked bags that were identified as possible threats to be loaded on planes without being looked at or determined to be safe. All done in the name of profit. "Get those bags on the plane on time! Who cares if might explode!! " Christ! The private sector needs to stay out of security. The worst TSA gaffes don't even come close to the scandal at SFO. It was all reported in the SF Examiner and CBS. SFO is the most dangerous airport in the country and not surprisingly, it's security is private like the old days that produced 911. Security for profit doesn't work.

    5. Bea says:

      Good gracious, the entire country screams to abolish the TSA — are you people at Heritage deaf, dumb or just venal?

      NO ONE wants the police-state you advocate. ALL of us want our liberty back. ABOLISH THE TSA AND THE DHS. And the whole rest of that swamp on the Potomac, while we're at it.

    6. CeeCee says:

      You would think that with all of the unemployed Psychology and Sociology majors out there the TSA would use the opportunity to build a real security system by putting people with behavioral training on the front lines to ferret out potential troublemakers like Israel does. Instead, we mostly have low skilled drones and gropers with the human relations skills of the DMV, an overdeveloped sense of authoritative superiority and a musical chairs approach to ensuring our safety.

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