YET ANOTHER UPDATE: In New Jersey, there’s a bipartisan coalition in the state legislature demanding that those full body scanners be done away with both because they don’t work and because they’re a gross abuse of the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
And as it turns out, one of the two companies making these body scan machines, an outfit called Rapiscan, is run by a big Obama donor who was invited on the president’s India trip last week. The guy’s name is Deepak Chopra, though he’s not related to the more famous Deepak Chopra. Just a little tidbit for you.
And one more thing – while I’m not crazy about this source, it’s at least being thrown out there that DHS is making the patdowns even more intrusive, including putting hands down your pants, in order to force folks to subject themselves to the nudie pictures.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Byron York reports in the Washington Examiner that the House Republicans are now getting involved. Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who is set to become chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in January and helped write the bill which created the TSA, sent a letter to some 150 or more airport heads reminding them that they’re free to run their own security and can opt out of using TSA.
Which is an interesting bit of information. But Mica’s letter contains a rather breathtaking statement…
“When the TSA was established, it was never envisioned that it would become a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy which was soon to grow to 67,000 employees. As TSA has grown larger, more impersonal, and administratively top-heavy, I believe it is important that airports across the country consider utilizing the opt-out provision provided by law.”
OK, maybe the word Mica was looking for was “intended” rather than “envisioned.” If you can’t envision that a government bureaucracy the Democrats want to unionize won’t end up like every other government bureaucracy the Democrats want to unionize, you’re freakin’ blind. Hopefully Mica has learned something in the last eight years.
It seems as though he has. Mica calls the current TSA “security theater” operations a “kabuki dance” and says TSA is dangerously incompetent. We agree. For all the insult and idiocy airline passengers are put through, there is virtually nothing to suggest we’re any safer flying than we were after reinforcing the cockpit doors on planes after 9/11.
UPDATE: The TSA is now opening an investigation into John Tyner, the California man who recorded his encounter with them which included the famous “If you touch my junk I’ll have you arrested” line.
ORIGINAL: The junk-grabbing and nudie pictures are one thing. The refusal to focus on the people who represent the real threat to air travel are another. The surly incompetence and bureaucratic hostility to average Americans are something else entirely.
But the reason the Transportation Security Administration has to go away as soon as possible comes courtesy of the Washington Post…
In a significant victory for federal employee unions, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decided Friday that Transportation Security Administration staffers will be allowed to vote on union representation.
The decision clears the way for a campaign by the government’s two largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, to represent some 50,000 transportation security officers.
“It is no secret that the morale of the TSO workforce is terrible as a result of favoritism, a lack of fair and respectful treatment from many managers, poor and unhealthy conditions in some airports, poor training and testing protocols and a poor pay system,” said AFGE President John Gage. “The morale problems are documented by the government’s own surveys. TSOs need a recognized union voice at work, and the important decision of the FLRA finally sets the process in motion to make that right a reality.”
Early next year there will be an election wherein TSA workers will choose to unionize and force the Homeland Security department to enter into collective bargaining.
Unionizing the gropers and peepers at the TSA is just about the worst possible outcome. It will institutionalize mediocrity and incompetence at a lowest-common-denominator level. It will insure that federal money we don’t have will pour into pension plans and benefit packages for federal rent-a-cops – with the ultimate result being that AFGE will rape said pension plans to fund left-wing candidates.
The issue of unionizing TSA was a highly contentious one when the bureacratic behemoth was founded after 9/11, and it was one main reason why so many conservatives thought the construction of the Department of Homeland Security was a mistake to begin with. And the unionization issue was the reason Sen. Jim DeMint held up the appointment of President Obama’s choice to head TSA, Errol Southers, late last year until other dirt surfaced on Southers which ultimately led to his withdrawal.
In short, this operation has been much less of a national-security asset and more of a political football. And now it will calcify into what it was feared to be from the start. Eliminating TSA altogether and putting security back in the hands of the airlines and airports needs to be done now.
The TSA’s airport security program is fundamentally flawed in the first place, because it doesn’t focus on who is getting on airplanes but rather, what is getting on. Banning water bottles and Swiss Army knives won’t stop terrorists, who have moved on from box cutters to shoe bombs, to underwear bombs, to bombs in cargo holds. The best airport security is done by the Israelis, who don’t waste their time scanning grandmothers and four-year olds for weapons but instead intensively profile would-be terrorists based on identity and behavior. They ask questions about destinations and plans, they look for people who appear to have something up their sleeve and they do a good job knowing exactly who’s getting on their planes. And it has been a long time since anyone has successfully hit an Israeli plane.
Political correctness prevents us from acting in the same intelligent manner. Instead we have to treat every passenger the same, and Christians and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists have to be insulted by suffering the same level of suspicion as those belonging to a demographic from which all of the danger comes. When Juan Williams showed the honesty to say exactly what the rest of the country is thinking, he was promptly fired from NPR. And nothing has changed – we’re still dependent on the heroics of Dutch filmmakers aboard flight to keep us safe, while we’re subjected to needless indignity at the gate.
The ultimate result of this will be that the airline industry will fail. People will refuse to travel by air, because it’s not worth it anymore. There will be more teleconferencing and virtual meetings, more vacations close to home. Empty planes mean red ink for airlines, and a struggling industry won’t be able to stand it.
There is another way. Since the airlines ultimately have the most to lose from the current situation and trajectory it’s on, the airlines should take over airport security. They ought to have the right to decide who they do business with, and exercise that right to protect the rest of their customers. And since the airlines are the ones whose bottom line suffers from the government’s harrassment of their customers, they should be in a position to alleviate those concerns in the case of passengers who are not a threat to planes. It’s the airlines who have the most properly aligned motivations, and they need to be brought in to fix this situation.
It needs to happen soon. Because a unionized TSA will destroy American air travel.