Passing through the gauntlet of gruff Transportation Security Administration screeners is hardly a pleasant experience for anybody, especially the elderly, the disabled, and families with children. But all travellers will be delighted to learn that the TSA is forcing passengers to pass through screening twice on the same trip.
For example, a traveler departing from Bellingham, Washington, must pass through screening there, as at any airport. But before boarding the connecting flight in Seattle, the passenger must go through screening again, without warning of any kind and in much more crowded conditions. Passengers who cannot run through airports like O.J. Simpson may miss their flight.
Why such double jeopardy? Is the first security screening of the day perhaps defective? Is there a problem with some particular gate? How, exactly, does this enhance security? TSA isn’t saying, and for complaints you have to submit a form. The TSA responds that travelers “may be required to exit and re-enter secured areas within airports to access their gate.” And they won’t be able to take with them any beverage they bought in the secure area, another inconvenience. For questions about gates, the TSA says, see the airlines. But they don’t know where the TSA will impose double jeopardy, and gate changes are frequent.
Taking the train is no solution. As we recently noted, the TSA has been mounting a surge of intrusion through VIPR—Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response, a program with a budget of $100 million, and “growing rapidly,” according to one report. VIPR squads have been rousting people at train stations and other transportation hubs, actions that go beyond the TSA’s original mission of airport screening, and which civil liberties groups say amount to “warrantless searches in violation of constitutional protections.”
The TSA demonstrates the federal policy of No Bureaucracy Left Behind, however redundant, wasteful, or abusive. In VIPR and double jeopardy the TSA is simply creating more work for itself and looking out for number one. Travelers aren’t even number two.