It seems the antipathy felt toward the Transportation Security Administration isn’t limited to molested travelers. Lawmakers reviewing TSA performance records this week have slammed the agency’s performance as “pitiful.”
The assessment was in response to a classified report, leaked earlier this summer, which revealed a 95 percent failure rate in the TSA’s ability to detect mock explosives and banned weapons carried by auditors posing as travelers.
US lawmakers and federal watchdogs have now had a chance to review that report and the results are painful to read.
The hearings are painful to watch, too.
“In looking at the number of times people got through with guns or bombs in these covert testing exercises, it really was pathetic. When I say that, I mean pitiful,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass).
For those who might be a little slow on the uptake, he added for good measure, “Just thinking about the breaches there, it’s horrific.”
Pathetic. Pitiful. Horrific.
Is that really an accurate description of the agency tasked to protect the lives and safety of US travelers?
Let’s hope not.
The TSA was marshaled into action as a direct response to the attacks on September 11. Since then, we’ve been assured that the inconvenience and personal intrusion we tolerate at the hands of the security agency are the price we must pay for a safe travel experience.
Testimony at a House Oversight hearing this week tells a different story.
Inspector General John Roth told the committee that TSA failures “included failures in the technology, failures in TSA procedures, and human error.”
“We found layers of security simply missing,” he said.
Jennifer Grover, of the General Accounting Office, testified that the “TSA has consistently fallen short in basic program management.”
If there’s truth to the claims, it can mean only one thing: The TSA isn’t doing its job. It’s not keeping us safe.
What’s worse, it means that the inconvenience, delay, invasion of privacy and general loss of dignity we endure from the TSA every time we travel are essentially for naught.
The news has travelers asking, “What do we pay these guys for, anyway?”
TSA Administrator, Peter Neffenger, said the agency was undertaking a “full system review.”
But after 13 years of aggravation, it seems the agency owes travelers something more than that.