TSA – “image problem” is the least of it

by Lisa Simeone on October 24, 2012


The Washington Post seems to have taken up the TSA’s cause.

In a report headlined “TSA fights major image problem,” WaPo lists some of the TSA’s recent troubles, including incompetence and criminal behavior. It then quotes “a federal employee expert” who tells us that everything’s hunky-dory. The TSA is so rigorous and adept, you see, that it weeds out its problematic employees. It’s more “vigilant” than other federal agencies.

Ah, yes! That must be why we never hear of TSA agents bullying, harassing, threatening, and abusing passengers. That’s why the pages here at TSA News aren’t filled with such accounts.

And, of course, the Post also quotes TSA Administrator John Pistole, who has such a stellar record of telling the truth, and responding to complaints, and showing that he cares about the passengers who pay his salary.

As bad as these cases look, TSA Administrator John Pistole says they do not represent an endemic problem.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a pattern,” Pistole said in an interview, citing the millions of passengers and bags TSA processes and a workforce, at 450 locations, the size of a small city. He has established an Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate allegations of misconduct. “I would not say [it’s] pervasive or systemic across the board.”

But here’s the best part:

Acknowledging “it obviously hurts our image” during the interview, Pistole said one thing the cases have not done is endanger the flying public. The chances the improper baggage screening has compromised security “is so remote,” he said, given the nearly 1.8 million passengers and 3.4 million bags screened every day by about 50,000 TSAs.

So let me get this straight: even though most of the baggage is still going into the hold unscreened, security isn’t compromised. But even though most passengers aren’t terrorists, they must be treated as if they were, because otherwise security would be compromised.

And even though Pistole’s team includes thieves, child molesters, sexual predators, and bullies, they’re only, according to Pistole, the proverbial few bad apples. They don’t represent the TSA as a whole. But a dozen attackers ten years ago aren’t a few bad apples; they do represent passengers as a whole. We must all be treated as potential terrorists.

Orwell had a lot to say about logic like that. Perhaps we should all pitch in and buy one of his books to send to the Washington Post.

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