The multi-billion-dollar federal agency created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to protect the nation’s transportation system is inept, bloated and has failed miserably to fulfill its mission despite being generously funded by the government, according to a new congressional report.
This is hardly earth-shattering news about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) since its many lapses have been exposed through the years in a variety of government probes and media reports. What singles out this particular report, released this week by a House Transportation Committee, is that it goes a step further by calling for an overhaul of the 65,000-employee agency.
Titled “A Decade Later: A Call for TSA Reform,” the report outlines the Homeland Security agency’s endless transgressions since its creation and concludes that it has “grown into an enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy” that has lost its focus on transportation security. The TSA “lacks administrative competency” and “suffers from bureaucratic morass and mismanagement,” the report further states.
TSA’s operations are outdated, more than 25,000 security breaches have occurred at U.S. airports since congress created it and the agency has failed to develop and deploy effective technology despite wasting $39 million to procure special machines that could not consistently detect explosives. The TSA also blew $212 million on a failed passenger observation program that allowed terrorists to board planes on nearly two dozen occasions. This information was attributed to a separate government report published earlier this year.
It’s not like the TSA lacks manpower. Its workforce has swelled by 400%—from 16,000 to 65,000—since it was created and it’s larger than many other agencies, including the departments of State, Labor, Energy, Education and Housing and Urban Development. The TSA has also received nearly $60 billion to secure the nation’s transportation network.
The committee’s recommendations for reform include setting performance standards for passenger and baggage screening operations based on risk analysis and common sense, prioritizing screening resources based on risk rather than a one-size-fits-all system, dramatically reducing administrative personnel and offering the public more transparency involving performance. Sounds rather simple, especially the “common sense” part.
The bottom line is that the TSA must “refocus its mission based on risk and develop common sense security protocols,” says the Florida congressman (John Mica) who helped write the legislation that created the agency a decade ago. Mica also chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that produced the scathing report. In a separate statement he said the TSA “has mushroomed into a human resources bureaucracy of over 65,000 that has lost its transportation security focus.”
The federal lawmaker who helped create the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) a decade ago is calling to dismantle and privatize the scandal-plagued agency which has been marred by a series of shameful lapses despite receiving unlimited resources from Congress.Created after the 2001 terrorist attacks mainly to protect aviation, the 60,000-employee TSA has been the subject of numerous federal probes that have blasted it for its many blunders. Just last week the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), released the latest in a series of reports reminding the TSA that “additional efforts are needed to improve security.” That’s putting it mildly.The TSA’s mishaps are vast. They include clearing illegal immigrants to train as pilots and work in sensitive areas of busy U.S. airports, inept agents who let weapons slip by security checkpoints and agents prosecuted for stealing from passengers. Earlier this year a government audit revealed that the TSA failed to detect terrorists at U.S. airports on nearly two dozen occasions. In each case the terrorist slipped right through “security” checkpoints and boarded commercial planes.This was particularly shameful because the agency had been using a heavily touted program, known as Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT), that cost taxpayers nearly $212 million and the Obama Administration had already asked for more money ($232 million) to keep it going. Making matters worse, the TSA’s highly specialized Behavior Detection Officers failed to stop terrorists from boarding planes in facilities that rank among the top 10 highest risk on the agency’s own Airport Threat Assessment list.This is just a sampling of the TSA’s many problems over the years. No wonder the Florida congressman (John Mica) who authored the legislation that established the bloated agency is calling to dismantle it and privatize screeners, pointing out that it’s a $9 billion enterprise that has “failed to actually detect any threat in 10 years.” Mica, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said this on the record during a recent interview with a political news site.Last year the congressman referred to the TSA as a “bureaucratic nightmare” top heavy with supervisory and administrative staff. More than 7,000 supervisors and 3,526 administrators make an average annual salary that exceeds $100,000, Mica has revealed in the past. The bottom line, according to the congressman; the massive bureaucracy cannot effectively ensure the safety of the U.S. transportation system.
A decade after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history the Homeland Security agency created to protect the nation’s transportation system clears “individuals who pose a threat” to work in “secure” areas of American airports.It may seem like a bad joke but it’s reality at the perpetually inept Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the 55,000-employee monster created after 9/11 to avoid another terrorist attack. Instead the agency that embarrasses innocent citizens with invasive, genital-groping personal searches has been marred by a series of gaffes that have left the country vulnerable amid increasing threats of terrorism.Since its creation the TSA has made headlines for regularly missing guns and bombs during random tests at major U.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. The agency has also seen several agents arrested for official misconduct, including stealing from passengers’ bags at some of the nation’s busiest airports.This month a federal audit reveals that, after nearly a decade, the TSA still can’t guarantee that agents working in “secure” areas of airports don’t pose a risk. That’s because the agency doesn’t always verify the identity of job applicants or even their legal status against a government immigration database. This means that the TSA can’t account for agency employees with access to secure areas of airports, according to a Homeland Security Inspector General report made public a few days ago.Portions of the report have been redacted for security reasons, but the big picture is clear: “The safety of airport workers, passengers, and aircraft is at risk due to the vulnerabilities in the airport operator badging process,” according to the inspector general. Investigators found that only 193 of 280 airports could provide reports of the locations where high-security workers were stationed.The recommendations to fix the problem are almost comical because they simply require common sense. For example, the IG suggests verifying the identity of TSA job applicants, accurately vetting their personal information and requiring airports to conduct criminal record checks for badge holders to assure individuals who commit “disqualifying crimes” are stripped of their access to secure airport areas.While the higher ups at the TSA work to implement these simple procedures, the agency keeps getting enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars to fulfill its mission despite its many failures. President Obama has given the agency more than $3 billion in recovery funds and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants Congress to increase its 2012 budget by $459 million to a whopping $8.1 billion.
Years after implementing a costly passenger screening program, the Homeland Security agency responsible for protecting the nation’s transportation system failed to detect terrorists at U.S. airports on nearly two dozen occasions.As a result the terrorists slipped right through “security” checkpoints and boarded commercial airplanes, according to a government report that’s difficult to swallow nearly a decade after the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history. Unfortunately, it’s true and, not surprisingly, it involves the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which was created after 9/11 mainly to prevent terrorists from using planes as weapons of mass destruction.The agency’s perpetual blunders have been well documented by Judicial Watch over the years, but this seems to be the icing on the cake for an agency with unlimited resources and unconditional support from Congress and the White House. A heavily-touted and quite expensive TSA program that targets terrorists by observing their behavior has failed miserably, according to a congressional probe conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).Known as Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT), the innovative project was implemented with great fanfare to enhance aviation security after Islamic terrorist slammed commercial jets into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In 2010 SPOT cost taxpayers nearly $212 million and the Obama Administration wants $232 million for it this year.But on at least 23 occasions its highly specialized Behavior Detection Officers failed to stop terrorists from boarding planes, investigators found. At least 16 people who were later charged or pleaded guilty to terrorism charges slipped through eight different U.S. airports with SPOT programs, according to the GAO’s findings.It gets better. Most of the airports where terrorists boarded planes rank among the top 10 highest risk on the TSA’s Airport Threat Assessment list. For instance, an individual who subsequently pleaded guilty to providing material support to Somali terrorists boarded a plane at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport en route to Somalia an another who later admitted providing Al Qaeda with material support took a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport to participate in a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.Before pouring more taxpayer dollars into this dubious security program perhaps the Obama Administration should consider a point made by congressional investigators in their report; “the TSA deployed its behavior detection program nationwide before first determining whether there was a scientifically valid basis for the program.”
Nearly a decade after terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon how could the U.S. government permit an illegal immigrant to obtain a pilot’s license and run a school that trains dozens of foreigners to fly small aircraft?The question is directed at the Homeland Security agency responsible for scrutinizing all foreign flight students before they can take lessons or get a pilot’s license in the U.S. Here’s a hint; the agency was created after 9/11 specifically to prevent another terrorist attack by protecting the nation’s transportation system, especially aviation. It’s the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).A few months ago a news report alerted TSA officials that a flight school in Stow Massachusetts, a rural community about 25 miles west of Boston, was operated by an illegal immigrant who somehow got a U.S. pilot’s license. Enrolled in the school (TJ Aviation Flight Academy) were more than 30 illegal aliens who were actually cleared by the TSA to train as pilots. Several of them had entered the U.S. legally but their visas expired, just like several of the 9/11 hijackers.Many have been deported but the TSA has failed to implement any security controls to prevent a similar atrocity, though the agency is working “to refine the process for checking the immigration status of alien flight school students,” according to a spokesman quoted in a Boston newspaper this week. The story reveals that Homeland Security officials have not instituted new safeguards to stop other flight schools from enrolling illegal immigrants who could present national security threats.Pilots are actually licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but the agency relies on the TSA for criminal and immigration background checks. FAA officials claim that they don’t have the legal authority to revoke a pilot’s license for being in the country illegally, indicating that government bureaucracy is playing a role in the inexcusable security lapses.The TSA, which has 55,000 employees, has compromised the nation’s security on many occasions and its lapses have been well documented over the years. The agency approved background checks for illegal immigrants to work in sensitive areas of busy airports, violated federal standards by not screening cargo and passengers on hundreds of thousands of planes that fly over the U.S. annually and allowed guns and bombs to slip by at major U.S. airports during random tests.A few months ago inept screeners missed a suitcase filled with explosives that blasted after a three-hour domestic flight. Checked on a flight from Boston toMiami, the bag contained hundreds of bullet primers that exploded on the tarmac after the plane arrived in south Florida. Primers provide the spark that detonates the gunpowder in bullets.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.
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.