Airport screening was bound to be this way

In their wisdom, the Congress and President Bush decided to federalize airport screeners in the wake of 9/11. A lot of us knew even before the TSA was officially formed that airport screening would no doubt get worse instead of better, and right off the bat we were treated to news accounts of TSA agents harassing passengers who were never going to be terror threats: elderly ladies, nursing mothers, and small children, for example. In other words, that see-I-told-you-so moment arrived early.

I can’t say that the original intent of the TSA wasn’t to improve airline safety. Improved airline safety was the stated goal, but when do government programs ever achieve their stated goals? Given the news stories that come out of airports from time-to-time, it seems that harassment of law-abiding American citizens seems to be the goal rather than genuine airline safety. And then we get this:

The TSA employees leveled their criticism during a Senate hearing that follows recent bombshell inspector general reports. One showed undercover agents were able to sneak fake explosives and banned weapons through airport checkpoints about 96 percent of the time; the findings led to the acting TSA secretary being reassigned last week. A second report released Monday showed the agency failed to flag 73 commercial airport workers “linked to terrorism.”

So here we are coming up on the 14th anniversary of 9/11, we have a relatively new federal bureaucracy that is supposed to be protecting airline passengers and crew members, and yet we are no safer — and possibly less so — than before the TSA was created. Perhaps we should scrap the TSA and return to the days when individual airports were in charge of their own screening. They could hardly do worse. Alas, that will never happen.

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