Why is the TSA Failing Its Mission?

Several media outlets have picked up a story by "MURIEL DOBBIN - McClatchy Newspapers," that might as well have been passed along by someone working for James Loy, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.

The headline reads, "TSA Making Progress, Long Way to Go." Already it reeks of spin, doesn't it? Yeah, we've got a tough assignment, but we're making headway. Give us a break!

Dobbin leads with:

As millions of Americans plan Thanksgiving and Christmas travel, they remain haunted by the question of airplane safety in the age of terrorism.

Complaints about security loopholes still beset the Transportation Security Administration, a year-old agency spawned by the terrorism attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The TSA is struggling to meet the massive challenge of checking airport passengers - and their billion-plus bags - every year.

Wouldn't you say that the "complaints" about the "loopholes" are justified? Obviously the folks at the TSA don't know what they hell they're doing. Sure, it's a "massive challenge," but the TSA has a $5.2 billion budget, and some 48,000 "specially trained airport screeners."

Isn't a year enough time to figure things out? How many screeners does it take to prevent a 20-year-old college student from smuggling box cutters and simulated explosives onto commercial aircraft? How long should it take airline personnel to find these items after they've been successfully smuggled onto the aircraft?

Officials at TSA blame human error and lack of funds. I say, let them prove that they're not wasting our money before we give them another penny.

Randal Null, security technology chief for the TSA, said, "There has been progress and a lot is going on. But the key fact is that with any system there is no single silver bullet that will give us 100 percent security." Progress? Like what, letting a woman bring a loaded gun on board in her carry-on? Or letting another peel an apple with her 5-inch knife that the TSA screeners didn't notice?

James Loy told the House Aviation Subcommittee, "We cannot provide world-class security on the cheap."

Maybe too much of the TSA budget is going towards the bomb-sniffing dog program ($6 million), X-ray bag scanners ($750,000 apiece installed at 429 airports), or new biometric devices that scan eyes and hands? Damn, with Loy's sense of budgetting, just be glad he's not in charge of our efforts in Iraq.

I would suggest taking a closer look at what James Loy, a former Coast Guard Admiral, has done so far while at the helm of the TSA.

An article from July ("A man of the sea, keeping trouble out of the skies," U.S. News & World Report, July 28, 2003, Vol. 135 , No. 3; Pg. 28) notes, among other things, that
"convicted criminals landed TSA screener jobs ... One contractor's deal somehow ballooned to $ 700 million--nearly seven times the original estimate. And Loy was chastised for using the luxury Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa near chic Telluride, Colo., to interview screener candidates. He says the hotel offered government rates and was centrally located to five airports that needed screeners--but not everyone's buying the explanation."

Sounds like he's running a tight ship, doesn't it? And if that weren't enought to raise a few eyebrows, Loy believes that unions are incompatible with combatting terrorism!?
He won't allow TSA screeners to engage in collective bargaining, he says, because it's "not compatible with the flexibility required to wage the war against terrorism." The Fair Labor Relations Authority agrees, but American Federation of Government Employees President Bobby Harnage is livid. Loy "does not appear to fully appreciate the value of the workforce having an input," he complains."

Should anyone be surprised that a Bush apointee is anti-union, lets contractors get away with larceny and hires convicts? I say, whoever beats Bush next year should fire James Loy and get someone else who is up to the job.