TSA continues rudderless; and leader-less

The last thing air travelers need during the bustling, holiday season, is compromised security on their journeys.  Unfortunately, there’s a slight problem — TSA.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), guardian of air travel safety, has breached its own security and is riddled with problems.   Just last week, for example, news agencies discovered that TSA agents had effectively and publicly posted their agency’s classified blue-prints to airport security screenings, because they didn’t know how PDF documents work.   No joke.  Due to their ignorance, things such as a VIP list of flyers who would not be screened, items that would make their way through the airport unexamined, details indicating what size electrical wire can go undetected by airport screening machines (and more) — all high-value information for potential terrorists and bomb makers – is now public knowledge. 

Another reason for the problems plaguing TSA may be the fact that, nearly a full year into the presidency of Barack Obama, there still is no permanent director at the helm of this key security agency.  Political squabbling over Obama’s pick for the top TSA post — Erroll Southers, currently assistant chief for homeland security at Los Angeles International Airport – has kept the post vacant.  South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint has placed a hold on Souther’s confirmation — not, apparently because of concerns with the Californian’s security credentials, but because DeMint worries he might move to unionize TSA’s thousands of workers (a move the Senate would have to approve at any rate).

TSA suffered yet another embarassing media moment earlier this year, when it stepped far outside its scope of authority — guarding against weapons or explosives making their way on board commercial aircraft – and detained a member of Rep. Ron Paul’s congressional staff because he was carrying a metal box full of cash — not C-4 explosive —  in his carry-on luggage.  Unbeknownst to his TSA detainers, the staffer recorded the incident on his i-Phone .  The resulting publicity focused national attention on what exactly TSA’s duties are.  The silver lining in this TSA cloud was a clarification of the agency’s jurisdiction — which now very explicitly does not extend to the carrying of US greenbacks on board an aircraft.

Even former TSA inspector general Clark Kent Ervin as admitted that, “there has been a pattern of incompetence and ineptitude on the part of the TSA over the years.” Lack of leadership, mission creep, and hiring missteps have led to legitimate questions being raised about whether a single, massive federal agency can maintain the discipline, focus and professionalism needed to carry out the vital task of ensuring that weapons or explosives remain on the ground and not in the air. 

This holiday season, as many millions of American citizens and foreign visitors traverse our country’s many airports, Congress should make it top priority to buckle down, address the problems that have plagued TSA, and at least install a permanent director.  Such a move would pay dividends far greater than the continued focus of the Congress in dismantling America’s health care system; and it would be infintely less expensive.

20 comments Add your comment

Chris Broe

December 16th, 2009
6:45 am

First (in the hearts of my countrymen!)

If George Washington were a troll.

Chris Broe

December 16th, 2009
7:11 am

Grading Bob Barr. Just when you thought it was safe to get strip-searched at the airport again, (it starts with removing your shoes. Beware.), Barr reminds us that there are still mission creeps stalking passengers, compromising privacy, and waving beads around in an effort to expose C-4 cup-sized .38s. (They look for guns, too).

Worse, classified screening protocol has been published and now everyone knows that the number one rule is still the politically-incorrect profiling faux pas: No fatwa chicks. No fatah chicks either.

I wont board an airliner this season because I can wait till Mardigras like everyone else.

Another excellent expose by Barr. C+

El Jefe

December 16th, 2009
8:53 am

Well, what did you expect from a government agency?

The feds can’t even do this right, never has and never will.

Anyone old enough remembers how the airlines cracked down, with the help of the feds, during the Cuban hijacking era?

The airlines controlled security at the terminals, not some government flunky, with a 6th grade education. Wait, we seem to have a lot of those, who is the guy that couldn’t figure out how Turbo-Tax worked? Oh, the Secretary of the Treasury, Hey Tim, how is it going? paying your taxes yet?

With this guy and the TSA guy that did not understand what a PDF file was, this makes me all warm and fuzzy with the prospects of the feds handling my health care and monitoring my energy consumption.

The movie “Idiocracy” comes to mind.


December 16th, 2009
9:37 am

TSA – Transportation Scary Administration


December 16th, 2009
10:04 am

Bob, as you say, the problem is Senator DeMint. Do not vblame others.

What we really need to do is can the TSA and go back to where we were on 9/10/2001. We live in a dangerous world. Accept that fact. Heck, it is more dangerous on US highways than it is in downtown Baghdad.

Thomas D. Quinn

December 16th, 2009
10:26 am

The congressional hearing to grill the TSA Administrator about posting security screening procedures online begins in THREE hours. Here are the members to call on that committee:

Bennie Thompson (Chair, Full Committee): 202-225-5876
Sheila Jackson-Lee (Chair, Sub Committee): 202-225-3816
Peter DeFazio: 202-225-6416
Eleanor Holmes Norton: 202-225-8050
Ann Kirkpatrick: 202-225-2315
Ben Ray Lujan: 202-225-6190
Emanuel Cleaver: 202-225-4535
James A. Himes: 202-225-5541
Eric J.J. Massa: 202-225-3161
Dina Titus: 202-225-3252


December 16th, 2009
10:41 am

The reason we do not have someone in control of TSA is you just cannot appoint a progressive liberal liar. In this scenario, the person has to be qualified and competant–not like the other appointees by Obama.

Really what socialist gain is their in TSA? There is not hurry! Besides, sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.


December 16th, 2009
10:56 am

Just one more example of why we don’t want the government to run healthcare…This is government run/oversight at its best. RLOL


December 16th, 2009
11:36 am

did anyone actually read the screed; “The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), guardian of air travel safety…” accepting this as fact (TSA is guardian of air travel safety) require a HUGE (impossible) leap of faith. anyone who believes the gub-ment can “secure” transportation must also believe it can “secure” our “homeland”.

joe matarotz

December 16th, 2009
11:58 am

Clark Kent Ervin? You can’t make this stuff up.

Thomas D. Quinn

December 16th, 2009
12:13 pm

This just posted by ABC News, “Was Secret TSA Screening Manual Posted On-line By a Temp?”:



December 16th, 2009
12:45 pm

I’m not surprised by this revelation at all. I fly very regularly and the TSA is a joke at most major airports. It’s the small airports like Bangor, Maine where the screening process is extremely thorough with every single passenger being physically patted down. Of course it’s only at tiny airports like Bangor where the TSA agents have the time and volume to be able to check every passenger. If I can observe and figure this out then you know any terror group would realize that you’re more likely to make it past security screenings at major airports than smaller ones.


December 16th, 2009
1:31 pm

It’s all Bush’s fault.


December 16th, 2009
1:45 pm

I agree with jconservative–get rid of the TSA and restore our pre-9/11 airport security.

The fourth amendment doesn’t apply at airports thanks to the TSA.


December 16th, 2009
1:48 pm

Snarky, I get the joke, but unfortunately, it’s all Thomas Jefferson’s fault (for citing our inalienable rights, while completely ingoring the very important issue of “transportation safety” (and Homeland Security).

Michelle Raand

December 16th, 2009
10:42 pm

One thing that bugs me in the plane is the people who cough and sneeze without restraint. Most times they do that without consideration for the people sitting next to them and pass on their germs to us. I’ve wished for some form of protection from the microbes they are spewing out. I could wear a face mask but it is so uncomfortable and moreover it scares away everyone. So I came up with a product idea and patented it. I want to know how many others like me will find this product useful and so created a survey. Just fill it up and give me your valuable feedback. Thanks!

Hard Right Hook

December 17th, 2009
9:08 am

I think that the eligibility requirements to work at the TSA should be raised. You must have a vocabulary of at least 150 words (in Englsih), you can have one felony conviction (but up to 5 more pending) and you must go through the same vetting process that Van Jones did (and pass on the first attempt).

I’ll still drive; state troopers are far more intelligent and manerly. And there are no screaming babies with unattendent mothers around me.


December 17th, 2009
11:38 am

Replace “TSA’ with ‘current administration” and then you’ve got the rest of the story.

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

December 17th, 2009
7:05 pm

TSA be’z bad newz yo!

Maritime Monday 193

December 21st, 2009
12:14 am

[...] also: TSA continues rudderless and leader-less on the Atlanta Journal [...]