Parkland Press

Friday, May 29, 2020

Another View

Thursday, June 11, 2015 by Linda Wojciechowski in Opinion

TSA: Time to screen the airport security process

We have all become accustomed to the airport terminal cattle chutes, swarming with uniformed Transportation Security Administration employees, that now precedes American air travel.

Like many people, I dread standing in the long line of passengers, shuffling along with my carry-on bag, handing over my boarding pass and driver's license for inspection, emptying my pockets, removing my laptop computer from its case, producing my zip-top bag of toothpaste, shampoo and lotion and taking off my shoes.

There's nothing like a TSA pat-down to put a damper on the thrill of an anticipated flight to a far-off city. But we have all learned to put up with it, for the sake of ensuring the safety of American air travel.

Now, it seems, the checkpoint hassle may not be ensuring a safe flight for passengers after all.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson reassigned acting TSA administrator Melvin Carraway last Monday following the leaked report about the 95-percent failure rate in a recent audit of TSA efficiency.

Fake explosives and weapons, ABC News reported, were successfully smuggled past TSA agents at undisclosed locations by a team of undercover federal agents working for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA.

The staggering success rate of the fake smugglers was 67 out of 70 attempts. That means fake weapons and explosive devices carried or worn by agents posing as devious terrorists got past the TSA screeners 95 percent of the time.

Taxpayers are funding the $7.2 billion annual budget for the agency, which employs 62,000 people. If the failure statistic is indicative of the efficiency of TSA screeners nationwide, it is truly cause for alarm.

The agency screens more than 1.8 million passengers each day.

Apparently the TSA personnel are far too busy making sure I don't take more than three ounces of shampoo with me on a two-week vacation to be bothered with properly assessing and screening the bad guy who has made an effort to conceal something dangerous on his body or in his carry-on bag.

Perhaps they are too busy making sure my husband takes off his watch and his belt at the security checkpoint or patting down my 66-year-old sister who once wore a blouse with some metallic glitter on it that set off alarms.

Or maybe they are distracted by the necessity of collecting nail clippers and shaving cream, making it impossible to nab pretend would-be suicide bombers who have planted weapons in their belongings.

This week, additional information has been reported indicating 73 individuals are employed as vendors and airline employees at U.S. airports despite the fact they are on a terror watchlist and posing a potential security threat.

Is this a failure in the leadership? The management? The agents at the gate? All of the above? As Americans who are footing the bill for this agency and enduring the screening process, we deserve an explanation for the failure rate and action to achieve better results in the future.

Awaiting confirmation from the Senate is President Barack Obama's nominee as the next TSA administrator, Peter V. Neffenger, who is the current vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Perhaps he will be able to rescue the TSA from this crisis and give us all some peace of mind as we remove our shoes and place them in the bin.



associate editor

Catasauqua Press