Transportation Shakedown Administration

“Three TSA officers at Miami International Airport were arrested last week for allegedly stealing from airline passengers,” Fox News reports. “While some of the officers attempted to distract passengers as they went through screenings, the others would rifle through passengers’ belongings in search of money.” The TSA trio “managed to steal $600 from a single passenger’s wallet.” Such theft by government employees is not a new development. 

As Benjamin Powell noted in 2016, Newark Liberty International Airport “was slammed for lax screening and reports of employee theft.” Over at JFK airport, a TSA screener was busted for “trying to abscond with a passenger’s Rolex watch,” and another screener TSA later arrested three on an unrelated theft charge. While TSA employees rip off passengers, the federal agency fails at its duly appointed task. 

In 2015, a security team put weapons, mock bombs, and other items past TSA security. The failure rate was a full 95 percent. Still, then-DHS boss Jeh Johnson claimed that the numbers were “out of context.” He refused to release the full report because the information was “classified.” That term generally means “embarrassing to the government.” Since 2004, security failures have persisted at Atlanta and San Diego airports, and hundreds of TSA employee security badges have gone missing. Management is also a problem.

As Craig Eyermann explained in 2019, the TSA has hired “managers with no experience and few skills.” TSA managers, some of the “biggest bullies in government,” harassed whistleblowers for exposing wrongdoing at the federal agency. Some TSA bosses escaped accountability, “so the one thing that we can expect is that the bureaucrats’ bad behavior will continue.” So is theft by TSA employees. Apparently, the government agency fails to do proper vetting. 

“Travelers have suffered unnecessary delays and harassment from the TSA for nearly 15 years,” Powell explained. “It’s time to turn to a truly private alternative. It would make us safer, less hassled, and freer. Flying might even become fun again.” By all indications, it hasn’t. 

The Transportation Safety Authority, like the federal Department of Homeland Security, is a bureaucratic response to the problem of terrorism. Despite poor performance and criminal activity, the federal government generally maintains a policy of no bureaucracy left behind. 

For further reading, see “Terrorized into Absurdity: The Creation of the Transportation Security Administration” by Roger Roots. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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