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Poll Aside, TSA is Not OK

Tuesday August 28th, 2012   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 12:28pm PDT   •  

A majority of Americans approves of the Transportation Safety Authority, according to a recent Gallup poll. A full 54 percent of Americans say the TSA is doing an excellent or good job and 30 percent rating the TSA as only “fair.” Only 12 percent of Americans, according to the poll, said the TSA was doing a poor job. Those over 65 are 49 percent negative toward the TSA, while those 18-29 approve by a rate of 67 percent. These numbers are being spun as a strong vote of confidence in the TSA but the poll is hardly the whole story.

TSA abuse has prompted congressional hearings and Rep. Marsha Blackburn has compiled list of the TSA’s 50 most dangerous officers, who “would never have passed a simple background check” and “are not only abusing their public positions but they are using their jobs to commit federal crimes against the very public they are sworn to protect.” A TSA security screening supervisor at the Newark airport, for example, “has admitted accepting bribes and kickbacks from a co-worker who stole money from passengers during security screening.” Offenses for which the TSA officers were arrested include theft, assault, rape and child pornography.

Aside from criminal concerns the TSA represents an expansion of a federal government already too big and intrusive. The 50,000 security officers, inspectors, directors, air marshals and managers get the federal pension and benefits package. They are members of a government employee union and the president supports their collective bargaining rights. The TSA injury and illness rate is nearly six times that of other federal workers.

Major airports are dumping the TSA for private screeners who work particularly well according to the director of aviation for Kansas City. To change schedules or add workers, he no longer has to wait for approval from the TSA’s Washington office. Private security has also been a success in other major airports. One flyer told reporters, “It’s been awesome in San Francisco. They get travelers through faster, they do a better job finding test devices, and the morale is better than the TSA.”

Sacramento will soon become the third-largest airport to drop the TSA for private screeners. Such decisions might be a better report card for the TSA than the recent Gallup poll.

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August 2012