What happens when two guys, armed with orange reflective vests and clipboards walk through an unlocked door on the fence line of a major international airport and talk up a bunch of employees? Absolutely nothing. No one noticed that the two were not supposed to be there or that they had no credentials to be in the area. What makes it all that much more awkward is that the two in question are Canadian Federal Transport Minister John Baird and Colin Kenny, the Liberal who chairs the Canadian Senate’s national security committee. Oversight of airport security is actually under the purview of Baird’s agency, so the fact that this happened is particularly awkward for him. He’s basically seen first-hand that all the money his agency is spending on “security” doesn’t really offer all that much protection.
In January, Senator Kenny reached out to Mr. Baird, inviting him to investigate airport security. Similar overtures have been made in the past, but the new minister "is the first one to get off his ass and take a look," said Mr. Kenny.
Coming to that realization is great. But what I really love is the way they expressed their dismay with the discovery:
Look at the expense, time and energy we’ve put into shaking down passengers for their toothpaste and hair gel. I think we have to look at other priorities as well.
That’s right. The focus on a whole state of matter that actually isn’t a threat so much is a distraction from looking for real threats. How much of a distraction? Ask the TSA agents working in Denver. Forget that a TSO there brought a gun to work and kept his job. That’s nothing. TSOs in Denver are now complaining that their managers are incompetent and that worrying about that is causing them to be unable to effectively do their jobs.
A couple former TSOs have filed lawsuits against the TSA via the EEOC, claiming that they were harassed and discriminated against. Other current TSOs are claiming that worrying about the internal politics of the office are preventing them from being fully effective in their efforts to find threatening objects at the checkpoints. According to the article,
Screeners failed to find a knife taped on an ankle and an explosive taped to a person’s back under a heat pack worn by federal security testers when they went through screening in the south checkpoint at DIA in January, according to multiple sources.
The mistakes were human errors and two screeners were decertified on the spot, according to sources. The TSA won’t confirm the test results because it’s classified information. TSA DIA screeners also failed to find improvised explosive devices or IEDs smuggled behind security by testers in 2007.
I’m glad that the TSOs have finally come up with someone to blame for their failures. After all, taking responsibility for your actions just isn’t the TSA way.
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