TSA – 20% Effective

A new report concerning undercover checks of security at U.S. airports reveals that the screening methods used by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) failed to uncover threats up to 80% of the time.  This is actually a step up from checks run two years ago which revealed a 95% failure rate.  Even with this “improvement,” the end result is still concerning.

The House Committee on Homeland Security has called on David Pekoske, the Administrator of the TSA, to fix these problems, focusing on installing new scanning equipment in the country’s airports.

However, new equipment seems unlikely to fix the systemic issues with U.S. airport security.  While Americans seem fixated on preventing the tools for attacks from getting through security (this fixation flows into other areas of life, such as gun control), other countries focus more on people as potential threats.

The gold standard for airport security is generally considered to be Israel.  There they employ a “concentric security” methodology where checks begin as people enter airport property and continue until they’re on the plane.  As a person enters into a closer “ring” of the airport, the checks become more extensive.  These checks include scanning, but the focus is more on talking with people, interviewing them, and gauging their potential threat level.  Thus, situations which seem common in the U.S. (e.g. a 90-year-old grandmother being hassled about having a bottle of water in her luggage) are less likely to occur in Israel due to their focus on the human threat.

The Israeli method is used, at least in part, in other parts of the world, such as Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.  There, the interview method is used and can be quite extensive.  Passengers are separated from one another and asked questions such as their origin and destination of travel, purpose of their travel, why they chose to go to their destination, as well as additional questions as the security agent works to gauge the threat level posed by the passenger.

These Israeli-type security methods also help to guard against attacks outside the “secure area” of the airport.  Tempting targets for attackers are the security line itself and the departure and arrival areas as masses of people are confined in a relatively small space.  A suicide bomber blew himself up in such an area in Moscow’s domestic Domodedovo Airport in 2011, and another did the same in Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in 2016.

Present U.S. security checks and the planned addition of more and better scanners do little to prevent or deter such attacks and, apparently, do little to actually detect the types of physical threats which they are meant to detect.  What the TSA and Congress need is a paradigm shift in how airport security is handled in the U.S. and a focus on the human threat.




Unelected Bureaucrat Feds Overturn Georgia Carry Laws

Your incredibly efficient and all-knowing, all-powerful, all-protecting government has come up with yet another policy to protect you. Effective June 1, TSA will now arrest folks who inadvertently bring a legal firearm to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, to the airport security area of the terminal. Nationwide, TSA confiscated 2,653 guns last year, some from accidental gun toters, some maybe from intentional nuts who need to be prosecuted. While state laws differ, accidental gun carry is just that, an accident.

In Georgia, our law allows for a gun license holder who inadvertently brings a weapon to the checkpoint to return to their car to stow the weapon. While not permitted in every state, many states allow it. Alas TSA has decided that it can’t handle the aggravation of those 2,563 folks, so it will now prosecute innocent gun carry.

TSA’s authority is to issue this edict is fuzzy because it is buried in federal regulations, not the law itself. The law that was passed, Public Law 107-761 passed on November 19, 2001, created TSA and authorized the creation of a myriad of regulations, enacted by unelected bureaucrats, which form the genesis for the fines that TSA levels for non-compliance with their policy. The age old problem of unelected bureaucrats being in the position of governance over the citizens rears its ugly head yet again.

On the criminal side, 49 U.S. Code Sec. 44903, “Air transportation security” appears to be the authority for the proposition that weapons aren’t allowed where the government doesn’t want them. Sec. 44903 is the starting point for voluminous federal regulations that give the authorities the ability to set policies about airports in general, and as a result, about weapons carry as well. It has the force of law because the regulation, whatever it may be, is authorized by the general law that says bureaucrats can decide what you must abide by. Unelected bureaucrats that is, because there isn’t a federal law that prohibits gun carry at the airport, so the bureaucrats get to do it.

So TSA fines the accidental gun toter, and the Feds can apparently charge the accidental gun toter, and even the local prosecutor, Solicitor General Tasha Mosley, takes great joy in prosecuting accidental gun toting, under the idea that in Clayton County (upon which the screening area resides) isn’t a big fan of gun toting, except for the gang bangers that every year kill 140 people, rape 119, rob 161 folks and break into homes 200 times. Every crime stat for Clayton County exceeds Georgia averages! Yet she takes great joy in prosecuting accidental gun carry at the airport. Priorities?

So back to TSA. TSA wastes our time too. Sure, 2,653 gun toters cost TSA some time. Maybe an hour each time to determine that the gun toter is accidentally carrying. So that is 2,653 hours of precious TSA time that they will never get back. Shame on us.

TSA, however, wastes our time a bit too. Averages at Atlanta, which is my baseline, have been 30 to 60 minutes of late, so we’ll call it 45 minutes. TSA’s website encourages people to show up three hours before departure! Three hours! Let’s say you cut it close and get in line 45 minutes ahead of time as advised. Using TSA’s 708,316,339 checked passengers in 2016 as the beginning point, multiply that times 30 minutes (45 minute less 15 minutes that is inherent in the security process), that equals 354,158,169 hours of wasted time due to TSA inefficiency. Or, as TSA would claim, underfunding. Because what government agency doesn’t claim to be underfunded.

So TSA is 133,500 times more wasteful of our time than we are of theirs, but we go to jail?

Airfare Going Up? Blame Paul Ryan and the GOP. Seriously.

Airfare is getting more expensive. The Transportation Security Administration is raising security fees. Fox News has a report on it. But in the interests of intellectual honesty, we here on a Republican site and I, a formerly elected Republican official, do need to point out that the American public has Paul Ryan and the GOP to blame for it.

The House Republicans let Paul Ryan and Patty Murray from the Senate come up with a budget plan that increased spending, scrapped sequestration cuts, cut veterans benefits, and raised taxes. “Nooooooooooo,” the GOP said, “It’s not a tax increase, just a ‘fee’ increase.”

The reality is, given how many American travel each year, Paul Ryan’s “fee” increase amounts to a tax increase. He came up with it. The GOP supported it and defended it. And now you are paying more to fly because of it.

The punch line, though more like a punch in the nuts for the GOP, is found right here:

Congress, which voted for this increase fee, has indicated that it is to reduce the overall deficit, not necessarily go to better airport security.

That’s right. Much like the GOP used Iraq war funding to hide their massive spike in domestic spending, they decided to use airport security fee increases to cover their ditching sequestration.

This is another reason Republican voters hate their Washington leaders so much. With guys like Paul Ryan willing to fund tax increases hiding behind “security,” who really needs the Democrats.

The post Airfare Going Up? Blame Paul Ryan and the GOP. Seriously. appeared first on RedState.

Thoughts on the TSA — Opt Out Tomorrow

As many of us go through the grand experience of the TSA prostate exams — no doubt a part of healthcare cost savings under Obamacare — we need to consider a few things.

When terrorists started trying to bring liquid explosives on planes, we went to 3 oz. bottles.

When terrorists started wearing bombs as underwear, we went to full body screening.

What happens when terrorists start using their body cavities? God help us.

In each of these instances, the threats occurred overseas. No one overseas is going through the motions that we are going through here. No one.

Why us?

And if this is designed to stop terrorists from blowing up airplanes, why stop there? Why not trains? Why not buses?

No one can land a plane in midtown New York. Airports in almost every major city are on the outskirts of the cities. But one can put a bomb in a duffle bag and take Acela Express straight into Union Station in Washington or midtown Manhattan. But those bags are not inspected.

What the TSA is doing now makes no sense. It makes no sense to target a three year old or a nun or a frequent flier. Made worse, we now know for certain that if the terrorists take their plastic explosives and stick them to their body in a pancake shape the full body scanners cannot detect them.

We have dumb downed airport security to the lowest common denominator. In doing so, we have some great airport security theater, but not much else.

And come tomorrow, we will see the full insanity that is our security system at work. I urge each and every one of you to opt-out of the full body x-rays and take the pat down. Highlight the absurdity.