TSA Incompetence Continues Despite Massive Funding

Despite $7.6 billion in funding allocated to the Transportation Security Administration for 2017, the TSA remains largely unable to identify the vast majority of explosives and weapons hidden in luggage as part the agency's own internal tests.

Since its creation in 2001, the TSA has subjected the public to increased surveillance in airports, in stadiums and even on public streets. Established under the George W. Bush administration in order to address and prevent terrorism, the Transportation Security Administration is unavoidable for those traveling to and from the United States, subjecting passengers to long lines in order to be screened. Apart from the general complaints of increased wait time and inconveniences, the administration has been linked to major incompetency and controversial practices including sexual misconduct and theft.

The extended wait time imposed by heightened security measures are often blamed for causing travelers to miss their flights. In an effort to address criticism for under-staffing and inefficiency, the TSA has been known to quickly hire hundreds of agents, failing or delaying background checks and proper training. This has contributed to “insider threats”, including theft. In a recent incident, ABC news discovered a stolen iPad in the home of an Orlando TSA agent. Items have also been reported to go missing from checked baggage. A CNN calculation of passenger property loss claims made 2010- 2014 shows “30,621 claims of missing valuables, mostly packed in checked luggage.”

In recent tests actualized by the Dept. of Homeland Security, the TSA neglected to detect the vast majority of weapons and contraband, held bodily or in baggage. In some tests, they failed to identify as much as 95% of weapons and explosives in luggage. As reported by The NY Post’s Philip Messing, “security screeners at Kennedy and Newark airports have consistently failed to find weapons and bombs being smuggled by undercover operatives posing as airline passengers.” The TSA struggles to address or answer to these failures.

The TSA receives many accusations related to racism, sexual harassment, violation of privacy and civil liberties. One of the most controversial elements is the use of full body scanners with X-ray technology, which some preliminary studies have suggested can increase one’s risk of cancer. Last month, CNN’s Angela Rye recorded her random selection for additional screening. The video has received much commentary, given the inexplicable and invasive nature of the pat down. Many passengers have similarly reported being groped by agents or otherwise touched inappropriately, most often subject to this humiliation in front of dozens of other passengers.

Although the TSA faces much criticism, it is unlikely that the screenings will decrease or be eliminated. In fact, the TSA seems to be expanding, thanks – in part – to its $7.6 billion in funding. One new TSA program, the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team (VIPR) serves to search travelers of land and marine travel, including train stations, subways, buses, ferries and cruise ships. This is connected with systematic abuse of authority and misuse of taxpayer money, all for the purpose of conditioning the American public to accept infringements of their privacy and basic rights. Consistent violations of the TSA are inarguably unacceptable, however, they could be slightly more justifiable if the TSA were effective. Yet, irrefutable proof demonstrates its overall incompetence, strengthening the case for the agency’s elimination.

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