Created in the wake of September 11th, the Transportation Security Administration (T.S.A.) was the governments answer keeping our airports safe from terrorists. The idea was to replace the then privately run airport security system with a new government police force directed by the Department of Homeland Security. The T.S.A.’s role is to ensure the safety of air traffic nationwide and in turn has brought about new security protocols to keep America safe. With progress and safety, as we’re told, one must suffer through change and inconveniences until a new system is perfected. In other words, people should expect and accept the more invasive screening, inane regulations and of course incompetence to stay safe. Due to the overwhelming lack of intelligence behind the new protocols, training and technologies the T.S.A. has failed and has proven itself to be a virtually useless organization that infringes on the customers civil liberties with little, if any, improvements over security.
In 2006, 5 years after T.S.A. was created, internal reports gauging the progress of the airport security agency was leaked to the press. The report showed that 75% of fake bombs were successfully smuggled past the security screeners of LAX, 60% through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and 20% through the security at San Francisco International Airport. Of course not all of the tests were bad, from August 2003 to May 2004 security screeners were given descriptions of the undercover security personnel who were in charge of testing their security; it’s always easier to pass a test when you know who what and when to look for. Just like any other test, T.S.A can do well if they cheat. Most of the test results aren’t available to the public so we have no way of knowing if all of the enhanced security actually works.
To keep people safe the T.S.A. has used aggressive search policies so that bombs, which can be hidden under clothes and also be made out of liquids, can be found. There have been numerous reports about how the searches have been conducted including profiling, sexual pat downs, making women remove nipple rings, having mothers drink their children’s breast milk, stripping old men who have medical implants and of course people are subject to intimidation by security officials even when they don’t break the law. To make the searches even easier, body scanning machines have been placed in airports which are so sensitive that they can take and save nude pictures of people through their clothes (which didn’t stop the terrorist on the flight from Amsterdam on Christmas).
With power comes responsibility and while T.S.A. has power, their employees their employees have proven over and over again that their power will be will abused. Part of the job is to search checked in luggage for explosives but anything worth money can be “confiscated” to help improve an employee’s financial security. Numerous reports have surfaced where employees who conducted searches have stolen passenger’s valuable items from diamond rings to cash. Over 200 employees have been fired for theft as of February 15th 2008 according to T.S.A but upon research the number varies.
A few weeks ago T.S.A. officials were involved in another scandal when sensitive information regarding security procedures, including those involved with bomb detection, was released on the internet. The release of the information should be blamed on the complete incompetence of the employees and management who run the agency since it was just an oversight which should have been caught. Even though the information wasn’t classified, it still had operating procedures and showed that a person will receive some extra screening if they’re coming from certain countries.
So what is it that the T.S.A. does right? They don’t find bombs, they sexually abuse passengers, they steal from passengers and the management is incompetent. If the goal of the agency is to make people want to fly less they’re doing an excellent job. Personally I think they’re just they’re just there for show. If people think there’s someone keeping them safe, then people will accept being abused by authority figures. Once people accept and support how things are done in the airports, the same systems can be brought into every day places such as schools and businesses. With a little bit of research it becomes clear that terrorism is extremely rare and you’re more likely to die from prescription drugs than the people who T.S.A. defend you from.