Questioning TSA's Ability to Provide Security

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress enacted the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. Part of the act was the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) within the Department of Transportation. Almost 10 years have passed since its creation, and besides making air travel an incredible hassle, the TSA has failed to justify its existence. TSA's security system has major holes caused by its inexperienced employees and its focus on passenger screenings.

Some 50,000 airport screeners have the duty to detect dangers on the ground before they can put the lives of thousands of people in jeopardy. However, we have seen over the last decade that the TSA and its employees are not able to provide this type of security. Two years ago on Christmas Day, a man was able to board a Detroit-bound plane despite having explosives in his underwear. Then, in June a man was able to fly from New York to Los Angeles on another person’s expired boarding pass

In a separate incident, TSA’s own special operations division conducted tests in 2006 in which undercover agents posing as passengers passed through security checkpoints with hidden fake bombs in their possession more than 60% of the time.

The government has spent $40 billion to overhaul airport security, but events like the ones mentioned above still occur at airports across the nation. Yes, instead of simply walking through a metal detector, like was the case before 9/11, boarding a plane has become an obstacle course that needs preparation and practice. Despite those changes, it still seems fairly easy to get dangerous items onto an airplane.

The TSA has not been able to provide the expected security on airports because of its employees. Many of the TSA employees have no security experience, even in high-ranking positions such as an airport’s Federal Security Director. Additionally airport screeners have no fear of failure; if they make a mistake, no matter how major, they will not get fired, only “retained.”

The TSA focuses too much on passenger screening. This might not be the best way to stop people from endangering passenger airplanes. There are so many other ways to get something hazardous on an airplane.

TSA employees should spend more time monitoring the airfield, checking fuel trucks, and reviewing equipment or air cargo for potential hazards. Yes, people involved in those areas undergo common background checks, but this is not a 100% guarantee. I don’t know any other organization that blindly trusts its members and affiliates.

The way the TSA currently conducts its business reminds me of a bouncer who makes his selection at the front door but is unable to assure the guests’ safety inside the club until it’s too late. This is not what people expect from a federal agency that is supposed to provide security for air travelers.

Photo CreditWikimedia Commons

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HJ Mai

I'm very interested in domestic and international politics, especially US foreign politics. I'm currently a senior at the University of Oregon majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. I write for various publications as a free lancer. Oh, and before I forget it, I'm from Munich, Germany!

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