Frequent travelers know better than anyone that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) needs serious reform. The agency spends $7.7 billion in taxpayer money every year, and it hasn't nabbed a single terrorist.
With no track record of success, TSA Administrator John S. Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano assure us that groping grandma and photographing young children in the nude is somehow going to discourage terrorism. Many experts have raised concerns regarding the wisdom of funneling millions of innocent passengers through unregulated and untested X-ray devices, but no TSA technology can be questioned without Mr. Pistole and Big Sis falling back on the "it's classified" dodge. Their message is, "Trust us, we know what we're doing." They need a lesson in humility.
That's why Rep. Marsha Blackburn introduced the Stop TSA's Reach In Policy (STRIP) Act last week. "The American people are sick and tired of these screeners playing dress-up with uniforms and badges they did not earn," the Tennessee Republican said. "With zero law enforcement training, these Transportation Security Officers [TSOs] truly are 'officers' in name only, yet they continue to abuse their very limited authority."
In 2005, TSA decided to upgrade the job title of its entry-level "airport security screeners" and hand them uniforms with a more authoritative appearance. Three years later, the agency blew more than $1 million buying badges so its new "officers" could pretend more easily to be G-men, when they are nothing of the kind. Most TSA screeners have undergone less training than a mall security cop, yet they are put in a position to boss around the public as if they were sworn federal agents.
Aspirants to a career carrying a TSA badge only need have a GED certificate, pass a drug test and be current on child-support payments. After just 56 hours in the classroom, new "officers" head to the terminal for some "hands-on" experience. Once they're inducted into their lifetime government gig, their annual salary can run as high as $47,548 a year, according to TSA job postings for the Washington area. As a sign of the high-caliber individuals the agency seeks, TSA bought advertisements on the top of pizza delivery boxes promising "X-ray vision and federal benefits" for TSOs.
It's a slap in the face to all honorable police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us from actual criminals to allow this farce to continue. Congress created TSA; it is Capitol Hill's responsibility to clean up this mess.
The Washington Times
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