TSA Deputy Administrator John Halinksi was called to Congress today to testify before the Subcommittee on Transportation of the Committee on Homeland Security.
Halinsky took over the role of Deputy Administrator in July.
The topic of the hearing was misconduct by TSA Agents. Specifically, Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) wanted to know what the TSA is doing to identify and remove screeners who, to put this politely, sometimes exceed their authority or fail to follow proper authority. You know, like opening containers of cremated human remains and stirring them with a gloved hand (contrary to TSA policy) or mocking a deaf passenger (contrary to TSA policy) or fiddling with a passenger’s feeding tube (which is, you guessed it, contrary to TSA policy).
In fact, these kinds of things are so contrary to TSA policy that they supposedly never happened. Oh sure, allegations were made, but the agency investigated itself.
In the case of the feeding tube, the TSA reported to an anxious America: “Our investigation concluded that proper procedures were followed.” In the case of the deaf passenger, “after a review of the video, TSA found no footage . . . or anything to indicate that they were pointing at and ridiculing a passenger.” And, rest assured, human remains are always carefully and respectfully screened.
So maybe there are allegations that agents acted improperly, but they’re just allegations.
Until this morning.
Rogers opened the hearing with a statement that said: “The majority of Americans do not support the government’s current approach.” He went on to highlight instances of theft from luggage, taking of bribes, sleeping on the job, and failure to properly screen luggage.
Halinski replied that “overall, most travelers have a positive experience at the airport.” He objected to “the near constant criticism and frequently embellished allegations of improper screening reported in the media and repeated as fact by many individuals despite the evidence to the contrary.”
HALINSKI: “Well, I-I-I would ask you, Sir, if you could provide us what the criticisms are. I haven’t seen a lot of statistics about criticisms.”
That’s right, not only did those alleged incidents not occur, the actual allegations weren’t even made. POOF! They’re gone. Because, you know, being criticized is contrary to TSA policy.