War on Terror

No More Private Airport Screeners: Making TSA Look Bad

| by CEI

The Transportation Security Administration has shut the door on a private airport screening program that was making the inefficient agency look bad by outperforming it in safety, innovation, and customer satisfaction. The TSA’s action was praised by a liberal union that expects to unionize the TSA, the American Federation of Government Employees. Its head, John Gage, applauded the Obama administration for requiring a “federalized” government “work force.”

The exemption allowing private screeners was originally created in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks, when the Republican Congress and Bush administration foolishly nationalized American airport security and created the TSA. While the screeners would be provided by private contractors, they would still be paid for by the TSA and be required to follow the same procedures as TSA-employed screeners, such as patting down fliers who opt-out of invasive backscatter X-ray scanning.

Previously, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors. 16 airports did so. “But on Friday, the TSA denied an application by Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri to privatize its checkpoint workforce, and in a statement,” TSA head John “Pistole indicated other applications likewise will be denied.” The TSA’s head said he did not see any “clear or substantial advantage” to the TSA in allowing additional airports to use private screeners, although he said that the few other airports that already use private screeners will be allowed to continue to do so.

Florida Congressman John Mica (R), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, criticized the TSA’s decision. “It’s unimaginable that TSA would suspend the most successfully performing passenger screening program we’ve had over the last decade,”Mica said Friday night. “Nearly every positive security innovation since the beginning of TSA has come from the contractor screening program,” Mica said.  Supporters of private screening say it is easier to discipline and replace under-performing private screeners than government ones.

Earlier, the TSA retaliated against a veteran pilot who exposed the TSA’s security failures, taking away whistleblower Chris Liu’s credentials and firearm.

The Obama administration is now seeking to unionize the TSA, even though the TSA was originally forbidden to unionize due to security concerns. Unlike the TSA’s current head, all past TSA administrators have recognized that collective bargaining and union work rules areinconsistent with the flexibility needed to protect public safety and adapt quickly to changes in terrorist tactics. (Undercover agents have managed to slip bombs past TSA screeners, and the TSA is even less effective at detecting them than the private security firms it replaced after 9/11). The AFGE union predicted on January 21 that voting to unionize the TSA will begin by mid-March.

The Obama administration is also undermining the security of railroad passengers by gutting an expert, highly-rated, anti-terror agency at Amtrak, which Amtrak’s unions hate, despite its efficiency, because it is not unionized.