Can things get any worse for the TSA?

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By Christopher Elliott

To say the TSA just had a bad week would be a lot like saying Muammar Gaddafi is dealing with a little opposition in Libya. And how.

This week’s TSA shenanigans are almost too bad to be true. I take absolutely no pleasure in reporting them. After all, this agency is supposed to be protecting us when we travel.

Boxcutters on planes!

A passenger at JFK accidentally carried three boxcutters. Yep, the same kind used by the 9/11 terrorists — on a plane last week. The breach reportedly grounded the flight for three hours last Saturday night and drew fury from Port Authority cops, who accused the Transportation Security Administration of being asleep on the job. “In case anyone has forgotten, the TSA was created because of a couple boxcutter incidents,” one law enforcement source told the New York Post. The agents who let the boxcutters through are being “retrained.”

Did we forget to screen you?

At least 27 officers with the Transportation Security Administration in Honolulu are reportedly being investigated because of reports that they were not screening checked-in baggage for explosives, as their jobs require. The officers worked at Lobby 4 at Honolulu Airport, which services 12 airlines. They, too, face “appropriate disciplinary action” in an ongoing investigation, according to the TSA.

Genetic pat-downs?

Although TSA denies it’s doing this, The Daily reports TSA is testing a DNA scanner that would essentially give passengers a “DNA patdown.” Who do you believe?

Portable scanners coming soon?

Here’s another story the TSA denies. Newly uncovered documents show that as early as 2006, the Department of Homeland Security has been planning pilot programs to deploy mobile scanning units that can be set up at public events and in train stations, along with mobile x-ray vans capable of scanning pedestrians on city streets, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Soon, they’ll be everywhere.

Touch our junk and go to jail

New Hampshire has introduced a bill that would make the touching or viewing of a person’s breasts or genitals by a government security agent a sexual assault. When did it not become sexual assault? That’s what I’d like to know.

Give us more money, or else …

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress this week that luggage fees have prompted more passengers to hold onto their bags. This means more items for TSA officers to inspect at security checkpoints at a cost of about $260 million annually. She wants more money, otherwise air travelers can expect delays at the airport. As if we don’t have enough delays already.

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Passengers are fed up with this nonsense. (Here’s how to handle the TSA when you travel.)

“In the final analysis, the TSA will never make our air travel system 100 percent airtight secure,” says reader Douglas Shachnow. “And I still can’t help believing that TSA procedures at our airports are little more than theater.”

In fact, it is theater.

I’m encouraged that TSA is considering some changes to the way it screens us. They are hoping that the new warning and tracking systems will be enough to make us forget about all their misdeeds.

I hope it does so soon.

What do you think? Has the TSA hit rock bottom this week, or can things get any worse than this?

Yes, they can.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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