The so-called front line for protecting the United States against terrorist attacks is the TSA. Recent news surrounding the government’s newest bureaucratic agency to thwart terrorists using aircraft concerns the introduction of full body scanners and invasive pat-down searches.
Measures required, and implemented, to keep the nation safe. Interviews and polls initiated during Thanksgiving 2010 showed that most passengers are willing to give up a little privacy for enhanced security. The question now is whether this protection is truly worth it on the heels of two recent investigations launched following what seems to be a case of the TSA searching for a needle, but missing the “the haystack.”
Yesterday, news broke that a business traveler boarded a jet from Bush Intercontinental (Houston’s IAH) Airport with a fully loaded .40 caliber pistol in his laptop bag. The traveler, who immediately notified authorities that he’d passed through security with a loaded handgun, had forgotten that the weapon was in his carry-on bag.
We expect to be searched, and we hang on to the expectation that because we’re being patted down that security is tight. In light of the recent, accidental breaches, it seems that the TSA is focused upon finding “hidden” threats while missing the blatantly obvious.
In August, a New Jersey man passed through Newark’s Liberty International Airport with a 6-inch hunting knife. Before boarding the plane, he also “turned himself in,” highlighting what many feared: the TSA wasn’t really that safe after all.
In fact, ABC News claims an unnamed source stated that the TSA’s failure rate is nearly 70% at some of the nation’s largest airports, and the administration’s director said that “every test gun, bomb part, or knife passed through screeners at some major airports.”
Since there’s such a high focus on aircraft security, and a huge amount’s being invested, why are these lapses occurring?
According to some, it’s a matter of human error brought on by demanding jobs that cause fatigue. Yet, others claim that the TSA’s training and choice of personnel are suspect. Despite the opinions, every breach brings about stricter TSA policies which seem to be enacted on the passengers, and not the employees.
Even the most advanced technology or stringent searches won’t take the place of an alert individual who’s paying attention.