TSA Asleep On the Job, Literally
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As the twelfth anniversary of 9/11 approaches a government report illustrates that the nation’s transportation system is not much safer than it was when Islamic terrorists carried out their plot using passenger airplanes as a weapon to murder thousands.
That’s because the 56,000-employee monster—the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)—created to protect mainly airports has for a decade been asleep at the wheel; literally! Misconduct is rampant at the TSA, according to the new probe, with federal officers at the agency committing an outrageous number of security breaches, including naps during work hours!
From 2010 to 2012 TSA officers were cited for more than 9,600 cases of misconduct, according to the probe, which was conducted by the investigative arm of the Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In nearly 2,000 cases officers were sleeping on the job, not following procedures or letting relatives and friends bypass security checkpoints. Thousands of others failed to show up for work, appeared late or left their post without permission.
Some TSA workers got busted stealing expensive electronic items, cash and other valuables from passengers, according to the GAO. Others allowed their relatives and friends to waltz through security with “prohibited items.” It’s as if the nation’s airport security is in the hands of a wild fraternity! The audit includes a number of specific examples that are sure to outrage the American taxpayers that fund the TSA to the tune of $7.7 billion a year.
Even more outrageous is that the agency seldom punishes this sort of atrocious behavior among its employees, even though airport security is in their hands. In fact, congressional investigators state in their report that the “TSA does not have a process for conducting reviews of misconduct cases to verify that TSA staff at airports are complying with policies and procedures for adjudicating employee misconduct.”
As if that weren’t bad enough, the TSA doesn’t even bother recording all misconduct case outcomes so we really don’t know the true magnitude of the problem. It’s safe to bet that the numbers are much higher than the sampling provided to the GAO during its investigation. Responding to the report, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), also created after 9/11 and the TSA’s umbrella agency, has agreed to establish a process aimed at countering misconduct.
This isn’t terribly reassuring considering the TSA has been rocked by a number of scandals since Congress created it more than a decade ago and little has been done to correct the problems. The agency’s many transgressions have been well documented in a variety of federal audits over the years and there seems to be no end in sight to the crisis.
Last summer, for instance, a congressional audit revealed that the TSA is so inept the country remains inexcusably vulnerable to a repeat of 9/11. That’s because, according to the probe, the TSA fails in one of its key missions; to properly vet foreign flight students before they can take lessons or get a pilot’s license in the U.S. Remember that Islamic terrorists trained as pilots at U.S. aviation schools before intentionally crashing planes into the World Trade Center.
Before that the TSA has been under fire for regularly missing guns and bombs during random tests at major U.S. airports and failing to meet federal standards by not screening cargo and passengers on hundreds of planes. A few years the House Transportation Committee called for an overhaul of the TSA, saying that the bloated agency has failed miserably to fulfill its mission. The TSA has “grown into an enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy” that has lost its focus on transportation security, according to the committee, which also found that the TSA “lacks administrative competency” and “suffers from bureaucratic morass and mismanagement.”
In another zinger last year, the former head of the TSA called the agency a national embarrassment that’s hopelessly bureaucratic and disconnected from the people it is meant to protect. In a newspaper article promoting his new book about the agency’s inner workings, former TSA had Kip Hawley assures that “airport security in America is broken” yet it has transformed air travel into an “unending nightmare for U.S. passengers and visitors from overseas.”