FEBRUARY 17, 2011
Federal officers at the government agency responsible for securing the nation’s transportation system have been arrested for committing crimes at one of the busiest airports in the U.S.The arrests come just weeks after the same Homeland Security branch, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), missed a series of security lapses at a nearby facility. In a 30-day span, TSA agents at Newark Liberty International Airportcompromised security five times by, among other things, missing a knife in a carry-on bag as well as a dead dog. A local newspaper confirmed the incidents with anonymous TSA officials, who couldn’t be identified because the agency forbids employees from disclosing security breaches.Across town, a separate newspaper published equally disturbing information about the character of TSA officers guarding New York’s Kennedy International Airport, a facility that annually sees more than 45 million passengers and well over 1 million tons of cargo. Two agents got busted this week for stealing $160,000 in cash from bags and both admitted they had regularly stolen from checked luggage. The agents will be charged with grand larceny, possession of stolen property and official misconduct.These sorts of lapses have become quite common for the 55,000-employee TSA, which is perhaps best known for compromising national security and its invasive, genital-groping personal searches of innocent citizens. Since its creation after the 2001 terrorist attacks, the TSA has made headlines for regularly missing guns and bombs during random tests at majorU.S. airports, approving background checks for illegal immigrants to work in sensitive areas of busy airports and clearing dozens of illegal aliens to train as pilots just as several of the 9/11 hijackers did.In the last few months alone, TSA screeners missed a suitcase filled with explosives that blasted after a three-hour domestic flight and the agency came under fire when a veteran commercial airline pilot exposed grave security flaws at San Francisco Airport. The pilot actually posted video on the internet showing ground crews entering the airfield without undergoing any sort of screening process.The TSA also got blasted for failing to meet federal standards by not screening cargo and passengers on hundreds of thousands of planes that fly over the U.S. annually. This could allow a terrorist to explode a plane with a dirty bomb, biological or nuclear weapon, according to a veteran U.S. intelligence operative who assessed the matter.In the meantime tax dollars keep pouring into TSA coffers. President Obama has given the agency more than $3 billion in recovery funds—including $98 million for “advanced technology X-ray units” that screen baggage—and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants Congress to increase its 2012 budget by $459 million to a whopping $8.1 billion.
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