Can TSA Clean Up Its Act After “Abominable” Security Failure?


In 13 years of operation since the 9/11 attacks, the Transportation Security Administration has racked up a lengthy rap sheet, says Politico. With accusations of employees stealing from passengers, snoozing behind X-ray scanners, illegally gambling at airports, spending money on lavish parties and racially profiling and physically abusing passengers, scandals have reminded the public that the agency is more than just an airport annoyance. News that the Transportation Security Administration failed to detect 67 of 70 mock weapons in a secret test shook the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees it, and led to renewed calls for the TSA to clean up its act. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson demoted acting head Melvin Carraway and urged the Senate to confirm U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Pete Neffenger, whom President Barack Obama nominated in April.

Those familiar with the agency say it will need more than a talking-to and a new leader to change its ways. This test was “an abominable failure,” said former TSA Administrator James Loy, who took the results as a sign that “when things go well for a long long time the likelihood of complacency rearing its ugly head and kicking in is very real.” He added, “Maybe enough time had gone by without a [terrorist attack] where that complacency gene had kicked in.” Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who formerly chaired the transportation committee, said the 95 percent failure rate is evidence of a sweeping conceptual failure. “They're spending billions of dollars on a huge screening bureaucracy,” he added, but the agency's screening needs to be integrating with intelligence so the agency can focus on “connecting the dots to people who pose a risk.”

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