TSA Comes Into Question

A report this week released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed a known fact to Americans, but, oddly, not the Government: the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is useless.

The DHS report revealed that the department conducted its own review and investigation of the TSA.  In that investigation, the DHS used several undercover agents to go through security like an average American would.  Unlike the average American passing through U.S. airports, however, the undercover agents’ mission was to smuggle fake weapons, bombs, bomb making material, and other contraband.  The agents were successful at an alarming rate.  To be exact, the TSA failed to uncover 67 of the 70 attempts—that’s a 95% failure rate.

What happened afterward was expected: (1) DHS released a statement trying to reduce the importance of the report; (2) TSA released a statement attempting to deflect their failure by claiming the undercover agents were “a form of super terrorists,” and this is why their numbers were so bad, and; (3) The White House promptly fired Melvin Carraway—the top official at the TSA.

How We Got Here

Without question, the TSA is one of the youngest agencies, if not the youngest.  Indeed, the TSA evolved out of the aftermath of 9/11 when fear swelled the American public, and politicians weren’t to be questioned on matters of national security.  It was at this vulnerable juncture in American society that government made some of its biggest grabs for power.  This included not just the TSA, but also the Patriot Act, as well—another hotly contested issue.

Nonetheless, the U.S. pursued their gloves-off marketing campaign.

First, the government focused on selling the public.  To do so, the Bush Administration took a “either you are with us, or you are with them” approach.  There was no grey area; no straddling the fence.  Thus, Americans were left with two options: patriot or terrorist.  Naturally, most Americans chose the patriot avenue, while the small minority that chose otherwise was constantly berated for being “un-American.”  Consequently, Bush Administration beliefs flourished without question from the American public, or American leaders.

Next, the Bush Administration needed to sell the idea that terrorist lurked around every corner.  Without letting the government assume control, and sniff out the terrorist, another attack was inevitable. I have dubbed this, appropriately, the BoogeyMan Concept: you will never see or hear these terrorists, but trust us when we say, they are real, they are out there, and only we can control them.  Thus, what ensued was the beginning of the government’s most successful grab for power, and a degradation of American’s freedom and privacy.

TSA: Needed No More

With the report finding that the TSA failed 95% of the time, the real question comes to the forefront: whether the TSA is needed to keep U.S. airports safe?  The answer is readily apparent: No.

The extension of the logic is quite small.  Since the inception of the TSA, the government has reported several times how intrinsic the TSA is to the security of U.S. airports.  But, in the light of the most recent report—where the TSA has a 95% failure rate—it is safe to claim that the TSA has played no role in the security of U.S. airports, let alone a vital one.

Therefore, the next move is a natural one: on the backdrop of the worst report for any agency in modern times, an overhaul and new leadership is simply not enough.  Certainly, no amount of retraining, or injection of artificial leaders would prompt a reversal of numbers fast enough to make security at U.S. airports attainable.  Indeed, today, and for however long it takes to make an agency with a 95% failure rate, into an agency with a 95% success rate, U.S. airports will carry on with a spurious image of security.

Furthermore, neither the TSA, the DHS, nor the White House as described what an appropriate success percentage for the TSA would even look like.  Suffice it to say, without these goals properly outlined the DHS, the TSA, and the White House are seemingly shooting in the dark, at a target that does not exist.  Moreover, the TSA’s abysmal 95% failure rate highlights the most important point—this agency has made zero contribution to the security at U.S. airports, and there likely isn’t one to come anytime in the near future.