Rand Paul Blasts TSA's Lax Oversight of Flight Schools

Thursday, 26 Jul 2012 05:42 PM

By Sen. Rand Paul

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One of the problems with government reactions to crisis situations is they often make the wrong choices, or make decisions that make no sense.

On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Over 3,000 Americans were killed that day. All of these terrorists were foreign nationals who learned to fly in private flight schools in the United States.

Eleven years after 9/11, the Government Accountability Office issued a disturbing report indicating the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration still do not have adequate protections in place to stop another 9/11.

Editor's Note: You Owe It to Yourself to Know What Obama and Bernanke Are Hiding From Americans

TSA has plenty of resources. They can pat down grandma. They can stick their finger in the burial urn of ashes and spill them all over the airport. They can remove diapers from infants and force young mothers to spoil the baby’s milk by unsealing it. They can come darn near assaulting 6-year-old girls.

But they don’t seem to be able to effectively monitor the same problem they failed to protect against 11 years ago.

Recently, a Government Accountability Office investigation at a Boston-area flight school revealed that 25 flight students had been approved by the TSA to get training even though they were in the country illegally.

One might be excused for assuming illegal entry into the country would be the first thing the TSA checked. But that is apparently not the case.

GAO investigators also discovered that an unspecified number of foreign nationals were given their pilot’s license by the FAA before the TSA had finished their screening.

So, 10 years after 9/11, foreign nationals – including those here illegally – can still begin flight training in the U.S. with no screening or inadequate safeguards.

I often tell people government isn’t inherently stupid, but I might have to amend that statement, because there are really no other words to describe this.

It’s not like the TSA and FAA haven’t “tried” to fix the problem, in their own bumbling, government way. They proposed rules in 2004, which proved to be inadequate. They then proposed more rules in 2008, which were poorly written and protested by participants in the process. So the TSA agreed to try again.

Editor's Note: You Owe It to Yourself to Know What Obama and Bernanke Are Hiding From Americans

Now, you might think that rewriting the rule might take a few weeks or maybe even a month. You obviously have never been a government bureaucrat. It took over four years to see another rule proposed.

One of the things that bothered me most about the government’s reaction to 9/11 is that no one was ever fired. Americans, by the millions, have had their dignity and privacy violated by their government, whether through the USA PATRIOT Act, suspicious activity reports, snooping via the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or TSA groping. Yet the basic protections, including those that would directly address the problems of security leading up to 9/11, have still not been addressed by our government.

I have asked repeatedly: Does anyone know where the 80,000 students from the Middle East are, who are visiting the U.S. to go to school? Does anyone really know what they’re doing, or whether they leave when their visa expires?

There are 25,559 foreign nationals who have received flight training in the U.S. in recent years. How many of these were not properly vetted?

The GAO conducted an audit of 10 flight schools out of nearly 20,000 locations with private aircraft. In this audit they found 25 illegals received training. Extrapolate that across the country and there could be hundreds or thousands who received training without the proper screening.

The GAO – the government’s own watchdog – found this information and reported it to Congress this summer. Now it is up to Congress to do something about it.

The TSA and DHS have cast a net that entangles all Americans. It makes no discernment as to actual or potential risk. It does not make us safer. A philosophy that treats all Americans universally as the same risk while ignoring actual threats is one that wastes resources while not solving the problem.

Later this month, I will be proposing a moratorium on foreign nationals being trained in our flights schools. The moratorium will last a minimum of six months, and will not be lifted until TSA, DHS and Congress agree that they have the necessary safeguards in place to protect Americans from the very situation that caused 9/11.

Editor's Note: You Owe It to Yourself to Know What Obama and Bernanke Are Hiding From Americans



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