The TSA “Academy”


All analysis about the TSA eventually becomes the very same analysis, because the core of what the agency does never changes. Nor does the news media’s relentlessly credulous approach to covering the agency. After a while, you can just put new names into the template: 2016 is 2014 is 2012, and TSA Director Peter Neffenger is just the Dumb and Dumber sequel to Fifty Shades of John Pistole. The latest example comes from CBS News, which just offered a breathless report on the TSA’s new national training academy.

Something new? Don’t be fooled. The new academy is a response to the TSA’s spectacularly high failure rate during “red team” testing. The agency’s smurfs used to “train” on the job at airport checkpoints, but now “train” at a single, national facility. Take a moment to watch the video: TSA officers are still TSA officers, slack-jawed mouthbreathers (in a GED-optional job) who mindlessly repeat empty slogans about the dangers and challenges of Thedala Mageeing septuagenarian crotches and sobbing toddler bodies.

And the training is still the training: A trainer points at an x-ray screen, for example, and asks a trainee: “Do you see anything prohibited in that bag?” But instead of pointing at an x-ray screen and asking a trainee, “Do you see anything prohibited in that bag?” at a local airport, the trainer now points at an x-ray screen and asks a trainee, “Do you see anything prohibited in that bag?” at a national facility.

It’s totally different, man! It’s more nationaler. It’s like if the bagger at the Piggly Wiggly flew to a different city to learn how to put eggs in a bag — that training just got mega-advanced, because it’s in a different location.

Oh, and the academy’s standards? The training course is two weeks long. It’s like medical school, really, except that it’s almost exactly four years shorter. It’s like the initial portion of military basic training where you learn which bunk is yours and where the dining hall is and how to kind of not fall down when you march in a formation. Two solid weeks of hardcore study — it’s the gold standard of professional development, just a few steps below Hamburger University.

The best part of the report is the sit-down interview with Neffenger, who responds to a question about the likelihood that smurfs trained at the new national facility will now succeed at the red team testing with a confidence-inspiring, “I don’t know if we can catch everything. I sure hope we can catch all of them.”

For the first time, nearly 15 years after the formation of the TSA, the agency’s new national training program brings airport security all the way up to the standards of gosh, we really hope this works.

Asked for a specific number to describe the success rate of screening procedures under the agency’s new training protocols, Neffenger falls back on the dodge that will forever be the TSA’s favorite accountability maneuver: He can’t answer the question, because then the terrorists will know. “I’d rather not say publicly,” he says, literally averting his eyes from the interviewer like a parody of a mediocre conman. That’s the agency we’ve all come to know and love.

And now its wanna-be cops can talk about their days “in the academy,” like the wannabe-cops they will forever be. The transition of our nation’s airport gropers toward fake law-enforcement status shambles another slovenly step forward, while the smurfs go on doing the same theatrical nothing for yet another idiot director. Save that last sentence — it’s an evergreen.