You don’t have to read the 59-page congressional report on the Transportation Security Administration’s shortcomings, released on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, to conclude the agency has “become its own worst enemy.”
Just pay attention to the news.
Last week’s numerous TSA meltdowns underscored the findings of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, which recommended a dramatic restructuring of the beleaguered agency that includes privatization, streamlining its lumbering bureaucracy, and giving it the resources to adapting more quickly to new security threats.
It’s almost as if someone planned it that way.
Let’s start on Monday, Sept. 10, a day before the release of the congressional report and a day on which the TSA should have been on high alert. But not at Port Columbus International Airport, where a cat stowed away in a passenger’s luggage was allowed to pass through the TSA’s vaunted 20 layers of security.
Bob-Bob, the feline in question, is owned by Ethel Maze of Circleville, Ohio, who was flying to Orlando for a Disney vacation that day. Somehow, Bob-Bob slipped into Maze’s luggage and remained there, undetected, until she opened her bag in Florida.
The TSA has no idea how it missed a cat in the bag.
“Our machines are very sensitive to picking up explosives and other threats to aviation,” Sari Koshetz, a TSA spokeswoman, told the Orlando Sentinel.
That’s just fine. But what if Bob-Bob had been a Bomb-Bomb?
Fortunately, America’s finest were willing to protect us from the Passenger With a Bad Attitude who posted a video of her confrontation online for the world to see (see clip, above). As that story broke, observers noted, it was the first time an agent admitted on camera that extra screenings are retaliatory in nature. Indeed, the passenger — whose name remains a mystery — claims she missed her flight.
Note to the TSA brass in Washington: How hard can it be to get your employees to follow the script? After all, they were smart enough to answer your ad on a pizza box. How difficult can it be to memorize a few lines?
At least TSA’s PR department repeated its pre-approved response when asked to explain itself.
“In our initial review,” it claimed, “we concluded that this individual was screened in accordance with standard procedures.”
On Wednesday, we heard the remarkable story of the liquor theft ring at JFK Airport. Authorities in New York made a series of arrests after an informant bought 55,000 stolen mini-bottles of booze from the alleged thieves, according to prosecutors. Among the group of suspects were airline employees and private security guards with clearance to be in sensitive areas of the airport.
Makes you wonder what might have happened if these presumed criminals had darker motives than swiping a nip of Grey Goose. What if they had a taste for something a little stronger — like maybe incinerating themselves and a planeload of passengers in a final, glorious act of Holy Jihad?
Then on Friday, TSA screeners found a gun and ammunition in a traveler’s carry-on bag at one of the airports that should be most concerned with security: Reagan National Airport. Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority police reportedly confiscated the gun and magazine, which contained six rounds of ammunition, cited the passenger on weapons charges, and then — get this — let him catch his flight.