House Republicans issued a scathing report today denouncing the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) as an incompetent bureaucracy that hasn’t made Americans safer.
|Rep. John Mica: “TSA must become the kind of agency it was intended to be — a thinking, risk-based, flexible agency that analyzes risks, sets security standards, and audits security performance." (Getty Images Photo)
“Unfortunately, TSA has lost its way,” Rep. John Mica, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, declared at a news conference. “TSA has strayed from its security mission and mushroomed into a top-heavy bureaucracy that includes 3,986 headquarters staff, making $103,852 per year on average, and 9,656 administrators in the field.”
The Florida Republican acknowledged that Americans are safer now than they were when the TSA was created a decade ago in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks of 9/11. But the government agency doesn’t deserve the credit, Mica insisted.
Improved safety “is largely thanks to the vigilance of American citizens and passengers, the actions of flight crews and armed pilots, the addition of hardened cockpit doors, and the assistance of foreign intelligence agencies,” he said. “After 10 years, we cannot continue to rely on luck.”
The TSA needs to be revamped drastically, Mica said at the news conference at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport just outside of the nation’s capital as he and other members released the joint majority report, titled “A Decade Later: A Call for TSA Reform.”
“TSA must become the kind of agency it was intended to be — a thinking, risk-based, flexible agency that analyzes risks, sets security standards, and audits security performance,” Mica said, echoing his own comments during a Newsmax.TV interview in April
The TSA is administratively incompetent because of its massive bureaucracy, according to the 24-page report, prepared by the majority staff of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The report lists 11 proposals to refocus TSA resources on improving security and safety. Among them are recommendations that the TSA must:
- Act with greater independence from the Department of Homeland Security bureaucracy
- Act as a federal regulator to analyze intelligence, set security standards and procedures based on risk, and audit and enforce passenger and baggage screening
- Expand and revise the Screening Partnership Program so more airport authorities can delegate screening to private contractors under federal supervision
- Dramatically reduce TSA administrative personnel
- Redeploy TSA workers to respond better to international threats to the U.S. transportation network
- Require that screening of all passengers and baggage on inbound flights is equivalent to U.S. domestic screening standards
- Develop an expedited screening program with positive identification of trusted passengers and crew members
- Enlist a qualified outside organization to conduct a comprehensive, independent study of TSA’s management, operations, and technical capabilities, and make recommendations to increase the agency’s effectiveness.
“Unfortunately, over the past 10 years, the agency has spent $57 billion on numerous operational and technology failures,” said Mica, who noted that the TSA has 65,000 employees. “Congress created TSA 10 years ago to be a lean, risk-based, adaptive agency, responsible for analyzing intelligence, setting security standards, and overseeing the nation’s transportation security structure.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, agreed that TSA has failed to evolve into a proactive agency that deploys the latest technology and cutting-edge tactics to protect travelers.
“Despite these high ambitions, the agency has become a backwards-looking dinosaur that seeks employees through pizza box advertising and struggles to detect actual terrorist threats,” the California Republican said. “TSA needs a vision and purpose that goes beyond throwing expensive equipment and invasive searches at passengers who do not pose a security threat.”
Rep. Paul Broun, chairman of the Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said more than 25,000 security breaches have occurred in U.S. airports since 2001.
“The agency as a whole has been a colossal disappointment,” said Broun, Georgia Republican. “The one thing it has been successful at is violating the rights of the American people. Instead of worrying about ‘political correctness,’ TSA should be putting our resources into intelligence and technologies that could be more effective when it comes to catching highly elusive and dangerous terrorists.”
Rep. Tom Petri, chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee, said the TSA must focus more on identifying and thwarting terrorists than on programs that “simply inconvenience” the traveling public who are not a threat.
“Terrorism is a global problem,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “We should continue to consider and learn what other countries are doing to effectively safeguard the public and stop terrorism.”
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