OCTOBER 11, 2012
Federal officers responsible for airport security in Hawaii’s largest airport have given a new meaning to the popular island greeting “hang loose” by kicking back on the government’s dime while luggage got on planes unscreened.
This went on for months at Honolulu International Airport, according to an audit released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General. It gets better. Supervisors from the DHS agency in charge, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), admitted they knowingly violated the rules.
In some cases TSA officers “were not screening any bags at all” for overseas flights, TSA Administrator John Pistole admits. Pistole also agrees with many of the abhorrent things his agency watchdog uncovered, acknowledging “widespread and frequent failures” in security at Honolulu Airport. Dozens of TSA officers and supervisors have actually admitted they knew they were blowing off the rules.
So now what? TSA says it fired more than 30 workers, including its Hawaii-based security director. In its report the DHS IG recommends the obvious; that the TSA better supervise and monitor staffers in Honolulu and that supervisors ensure assigned staff are performing screening duties in accordance with all standard operating procedures. This goes without saying and shouldn’t have to be put in writing by an agency watchdog.
The report is simply the latest of many outlining serious problems with airport security. Congress created the monstrous, 65,000-employee TSA after the 2001 terrorist attacks to secure the nation’s transportation system—mainly aviation—yet the agency’s transgressions have been well documented in a variety of federal audits.
Over the summer 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
Over the years the TSA has also committed a number of other transgressions, including 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 thousands of planes. Last fall a scathing report issued by a 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’s report. It further states that the TSA “lacks administrative competency” and “suffers from bureaucratic morass and mismanagement.”
In another zinger earlier this 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.”
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