TSA Watch: That was some birthday party — got anything for this hangover?

Now that’s what I call a birthday party.

The TSA’s publicity machine spent the last several days in self-congratulation mode, describing all of the wonderful things that have happened — and I guess more to the point, not happened — since its creation 10 years ago.

But the most noteworthy part of last week wasn’t the little PR party, which was completely neutralized by a damning Congressional report that called for the TSA as we know it to be eliminated, anyway. It was the agency’s clumsy actions leading up to the big event.

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The TSA did a little housecleaning before its celebration. It reportedly terminated Roy Egan, a baggage screener at Chicago O’Hare Airport who allegedly ranted against Muslims, African Americans, Latinos and homosexuals on his Facebook page.

Egan openly identified himself as a TSA officer, posting comments such as, “FILTHY MUSLIM,” Muslims “need to be exterminated”, “BURN ISLAM”, “Islam, a cult that glorifies death,” and ”Does anything at all make you smile more than a Muslim burning by his own hateful hand,” according to reports.

The Chicago Council on American-Islamic Relations had to meet with TSA’s leadership before the action was taken.

On the flip side, remember the TSA agent of Middle Eastern heritage I wrote about a few weeks ago? William Touzani was upset that his own agency had targeted Muslim passengers for additional screening, and had written a book about his experiences as an officer. After that, he claims he was targeted for removal.

And guess what? Last week he told me he’d been fired.

Here’s his termination letter (PDF), just in case you’ve ever wondered how the TSA dismisses its employees. Touzani says the charges are trumped-up and that the real reason for his removal is that he criticized the agency for its discriminatory practices.

And here’s another reported firing: Two TSA agents involved in the botched screening of a former Indian president, which mushroomed into an international incident, have reportedly been let go. The agents had apparently made the mistake of trying to screen Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam’s shoes and jacket.

A casual observer of these personnel actions might find evidence of a double standard here. One agent professes his hate for Muslims, and he isn’t fired until the Council on American-Islamic Relations applies pressure. The officer who stands up for Muslims is let go on what you might call a technicality. Two more are terminated because, well, it just doesn’t look good for the TSA.

You know what passengers really want? They’d like to see heads roll for allowing a loaded weapon through security (by the way, that’s the second time in a year that a loaded gun has gotten through security in Houston, so all you terrorists out there looking for the weakest link, um, there ya go).

Do you think Touzani or Egan would still have their jobs if their crime was allowing a loaded weapon through their checkpoint? You betcha.

The TSA must be nursing one heckuva hangover after last week, because after all that’s happened, what else can you do but drink heavily at the big party?

The most scathing birthday present, other than the Congressional report, was Becky Akers’ call to disband the TSA. It’s well worth the read, even if you don’t agree with everything she says.

On its 10th birthday, the TSA is an agency in complete disarray, by most accounts. It needs a little sunlight, and the mainstream media is doing a ridiculously bad job of covering it. (The best recent journalism on the TSA, in fact, has come from online. Take a bow, ProPublica.)

Seriously, can’t our MSM friends at least get the name of the agency right?

Which brings me to my birthday present for the TSA. I’ve created a new site called TSA News Blog. It’s dedicated to covering the agency with accuracy, balance and fairness. My hope is that it will encourage a lively and necessary debate on the future of aviation safety.

If you’re interested in contributing to the new blog, please contact me.

16 thoughts on “TSA Watch: That was some birthday party — got anything for this hangover?

  1. Yes, Houston has terrible security that is often distracted. I saw one TSA worker last week spending more time flirting with another than paying attention to the x-ray machine she was supposed to be watching. 

    Oh, and I’ve also seen them playing with their phones while sitting there, supposedly watching the x-ray machine. So, there ya go. 

    1. The problem with screeners is not so much focus as it is inferior technology that TSA provides. Most X-ray machines are older generation that give one angle to the scanned bag.
      The machines have a single X-ray tube  that shoots  pictures  of the gun facing it. A passenger can line-up the gun to look like a roll of quarters, a knife to look like a coin simply by guessing the  direction of the X-rays (passengers are usually loading their own bags).
      TSA does have a later generation X-ray system that is not yet widely deployed. This machine has 2 X-ray tubes that makes it impossible for a passenger lo predict the outcome of the scan. A knife may look like a quarter in one screen, while looking unmistakably like a knife on the other screen.
      Because of budget cuts, I wish that TSA invested more on those machines instead of the useless Body Scanners.

      1. Later reports also said the amount of radiation was up to ten times what was previously reported.  The TSA remains a Bush-generated problem, not the answer.

  2. TSA reminds me of the Cold War as the Soviets sat back and watched the US waste trillions of dollars in a nuclear race that the Soviets never intended to start.

  3. Just like the Soviets would of never started a Nuclear War, Preferring instead to see the US  go bankrupt and the public go insane, so does Al Qaeda.

  4. Not having read the reports or other links yet (I’ll get to those since clicking them diverts me from this page) TSA NEEDS to be disbanded.  This is bureaucracy run amok!  The more money they spend on themselves, the more idiocy comes from them!

  5. I finally read the links and all I could think was – let a loaded gun through security at Houston (IAH) and all is well.  Put up a photo collage with the phrase, “I hate blondes” and get terminated.

    Yeppirs – that’s a pretty good example of how the government runs things.  What was it someone said yesterday?  The nuts are running the loony bin.

  6. I did not vote because the choices are too limiting.  9/11 we were warned after the initial attack, that he would finish the job.  However, even with a warning, the FBI, The CIA, and the NSA all failed in their responsibilities, to listen to their own agents.  What happened next?  We got Homeland Insecurity and no one was fired.  The TSA should be eliminated and security duties resumed with the FBI, CIA, and NSA.  Those who brought the problem promoted, and those who ignored it, terminated.  Because government’s response is always:  More government, continued lack of accountability.  We need only look at Congress for that.
      

    1. I also did not vote because of the limited choices. I’ve heard people say that they want to privatize the system. A privatized system, using mostly untrained, minimum wage rent-a-cops, was responsible for what occurred on 9/11/01. We can’t go back to that. 

      The FBI, CIA and NSA are specialized agencies whose reason for existence and focus is far removed from screening passengers at airports. Their agents have the mentality of suspecting everyone. This could lead to abuses that make those of the TSA look minuscule. 

      I understand what is needed but just don’t know where our government needs to look to get the job done. 

  7. Unfortunately I can’t vote in your poll, because it doesn’t include the best option: fire ALL TSA agents, and send ’em back to their Walmart and pizza-delivery jobs.

  8. “Islam, a cult that glorifies death,”

    Does anyone else find this sadly, scarily ironic?  He condemns a religion by claiming it ‘Glorifies Death’ and then glorifies in the death of all people of Islam.  I would laugh at the total moronic thought process behind his thinking if it wasn’t so scary.  Though, I’ve never understood the violent tendencies behind a lot of blog posters.

    Sending someone to prison? Yeah! The other prisoners will beat them up or rape them.

    Don’t like a certain religion? Yeah! Burn them alive.  Exterminate them!

    Someone arrested for hurting an animal? Yeah! Shoot them.

    Just sad, disappointing and very scary.

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