The TSA as we know it is dead — here’s why

If you don’t believe the TSA is doomed after watching yesterday’s House Aviation Subcommittee hearing, then you’ll have to at least agree that the agency as we know can’t continue to exist as it does.

For starters, TSA Administrator John Pistole refused to testify before the committee on the innocuous subject of “common sense” improvements to America’s airport security, reportedly because the committee has no jurisdiction over his agency. (That’s odd — I always thought Congress funded the federal government, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention during government class.)

One by one, panelists took turns excoriating the agency charged with protecting America’s transportation systems. It was plainly clear why Pistole was a no-show, and it had nothing to do with jurisdiction; it would have been an openly hostile crowd.

Charles Edwards, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting inspector general, described the TSA as bureaucratic and dysfunctional. Stephen Lord of the Government Accountability Office, suggested the agency was ignoring the thousands of complaints from air travelers. And Kenneth Dunlap, who represented the International Air Transport Association, criticized the current TSA as expensive, inconsistent, and reactive.

“As this mushrooming agency has spun out of control,” the committee chairman, John Mica, concluded, “passengers have not been well served.”

The congressmen present in the hearing agreed with many of the criticisms, but it’s the solutions that would have sent Pistole running for the exits. On the conservative end, critics recommended aggressively reforming the TSA to create a smaller, more responsive agency that fulfills its mission of protecting and serving air travelers.

But some went much further. Charlie Leocha of the Consumer Travel Alliance, who represented the interests of air travelers on the committee, said the TSA should not just be downsized, but also limited to protecting only air travel (something it currently isn’t).

In his testimony, he described a future TSA that more closely resembled the pre-9/11 security system, which used magnetometers (metal detectors) as its primary screening method, had employees that dressed in non-threatening uniforms, and banned only the most dangerous weapons, such as guns and explosives, from aircraft.

The real security work would take place behind the scenes, prescreening every passenger with the help of technology and through coordination between intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and airlines.

“The mass screening of passengers would be replaced for the great majority of passengers with a Trusted Traveler program that seamlessly checks passengers before they fly, while at the same time being respectful of their privacy,” says Leocha. “Every passenger is already prescreened for every flight.”

Such an agency would be called the TSA in name only. In fact, it would be better named the Airport Security Administration, although that acronym might be problematic.

With a powerful congressional committee like this lining up behind sweeping TSA reform, it is not a question of if, but when Congress — which by the way, does sign the TSA’s checks — acts to dismantle this $8-billion-a-year security boondoggle.

I’m not saying that just because I’m CTA’s ombudsman and helped devise some of these solutions. Anyone who doesn’t believe the current TSA is a federal disaster area with an impossibly sprawling mandate isn’t in touch with reality.

The TSA as it exists can’t die soon enough.

  • I’m posting a comment here because this entry was written two years ago, and obviously things have only gotten worse. “The TSA as we know it” is not dead; far from it. But then we knew all along that this would be the case.

    I’m hoping more people will chime in with their experiences, especially now that the Reign of Molestation has spread to other countries.

  • IllegalAmigo

    The TSA has also cost the airline and travel industry a fortune. I know many people including myself who have stopped traveling due to the excesses of the TSA. I used to fly a couple dozen times per year at least. Since 9/11 and the introduction of the TSA I have flown 4 times. The last time I flew I nearly ripped the head off a couple of idiots posing as TSA agents when they refused to let me take my water on the plane in spite of my providing a letter from the TSA stating I could carry on more water than usual due to a medical issue. It was obvious these two morôns reveled in being total asshôles. My family avoids going anywhere we can’t drive to. I look forward to the day we take this country back.

    • IllegalAmigo, you are correct. Many of us have stopped flying in this country. The tourism industry knows it and is worried about it; they held a conference last year and invited Janet Napolitano (I know, what a joke), specifically to ask her what she was going to do about it. Of course, nothing. Now she’s off to ruin the California university system. Good riddance.

      Unfortunately, not enough of us are willing to stop flying or resist in other ways to force a change. I don’t believe things are going to get better in my lifetime. I won’t stop fighting, but I have little hope.

  • N965VJ

    First, apologies for the tardy reply!

    I agree with limiting the TSA to commercial aviation, and that it should be confined to common-sense screening of weapons, explosives and incendiaries. The Behavior Detection VooDoo, Nude-O-Scopes, and the TSA Petting Zoos have no part in this in my view.

    However, why should anyone have to submit personal information into a “Trusted Traveler” database? Secret government lists are not anything I want to be a part of. If a person is effectively cleared of WEI, what threat are they?

    If any EvilDoer decides to take over a commercial aircraft with his bare hands, or otherwise try to cause harm, the outcome will not be to his liking. This has been in evidence even before 9/11.

    Am I mistaken in thinking trusted traveler programs are more an instrument of administrative convenience for the agency conducting screening, rather than an effective tool to keep dangerous items out of the sterile area?

  • Killing TSA as it now exists will leave lots of gaps is security and at some point will cost lives.

    • bugspotter24

      Freeeesh shill!
      Fresh shill here!
      Criminal propaganda anyone?
      Come and get some fresh shill here at Hasbara Joe’s Fresh Shill Emmporium!

    • The TSA as it now exists costs lives – more lives than were lost on September 11th since its inception. The TSA kills people by diverting would-be flyers onto the roads, where they are hundreds of times more likely to die on the way to their destinations than if they had flown.

      Furthermore, the TSA leaves many obvious gaps in security wide open, as anyone who’s paid even the slightest bit of attention knows. Here’s a short list: uninspected cargo, insider threat from their drug-smuggling and bribeable employees, unattended airport entrances for airport employees (many of whom have not had a background check at all), failing to check huge pallets of supplies for airside vendors, threat items in mouth, under feet, in folds of skin, or even as Jon Corbett proved in a side pocket won’t be found by body scanners, body scanners are trivially avoidable by checking, and I could give you many more examples. Haven’t you been watching the news? TSA let a 5pound block of C4, numerous loaded handguns, box cutters and hunting knives go along with passengers as carry-on in the past year. TSA is great at abusing and humiliating people, but they’re shockingly incompetent at, you know, security.

  • It seems to me that TSA would fall under the Homeland Security committees oversite in Congress and the Senate. TSA mandate is not to protect air travelers, it’s mandate is to protect the transportation system: air, ground, and water. The part of TSA the most of us see as at the airport check points, but the agency does a lot more than that. The agency has done very well in general with what they have

    • J Russell Sharpe, $8 billion a year. $8 billion a year. Yeah, it’s really expensive to bully, harass, rob, paw, and grope people.

      Read Bruce Schneier’s assessment — someone with actual security credentials:

    • The TSA is a monument to the failure of American education. The TSA and DHS are billion-dollar boondoggles and only seem useful to people who can’t count. When hundreds of thousands of people are paid billions to protect us from a risk less significant than deaths from bee stings and lightning strikes, we’ve got a serious problem with our mathematics education.

      • Sommer, true on the one hand. On the other, I know plenty of highly educated — indeed, hyper-educated — people, including in the sciences, who still go along with the TSA’s bullsh*t. I’ve confronted them directly with facts, figures, statistical analysis, risk assessment, logic, etc. Doesn’t make a dent. These are people who make a living on empirical evidence. But when it comes to the TSA and the Terrorist Bogeyman, they’re no better than the average Joe. If anything, they’re worse; because they’re insulated by their belief in their superiority via their education.

  • It truly is amazing that despite the odds of getting killed by a “Terrorist’ being about the same as dying from a slip in the bathtub, Americans still support agencies like the TSA and Homeland Security.

    • Vagn, it is indeed amazing. And depressing. Unfortunately, we’ve discovered that contrary to assertions about “freedom” and “liberty” and “democracy” and “values,” many people actually like fear. They like their fear and they like to lick the authoritarian boot. This has been a hard lesson, for me anyway, to learn.

    • Slight correction. The bathtub is more dangerous than terrorists by a factor of 10 or more.

  • goyishe kup

    The one thing that i remember the most clearly over the
    past 40 years of my school days at Brandeis University in 1970’s are my
    student adviser’s words that when he was growing up that his grand
    parents and parents used the term “‘goyishe kup,’” meaning that the
    “Non-Jews are Stupid”

    Later in life I learned that the exact translation of “GOYISHE KUP” means that the “Cattle are STUPID”..

    remember him recalling whatt his father told him when he was growing up
    in Eastern Europe. One of them being that when his father was in high
    school he and a group of friends would skip school early on Fridays and
    go over to his friend’s father’s butcher shop. That they would buy at
    cost any cows , that had not been butchered by the end of the day on
    Friday before the begining of shabat . They would take the cow home and
    wash it and then the boys would procede to “beat the udders of the cows
    so that they would swell up and turn pink” so as to sell them to the
    “GOYISHE KUP” as milk producing cows.

    The part that I remember
    him asking me if the East Europeans are so naive, so gullible and so
    stupid to buy old “non milk producing cows” from a bunch of young Jewish

    So thinking of it now I agree with the Jewish saying that
    the “GOYISHE KUP” are indeed” Stupid” as they believe that a Bunch of
    Arab Moslem Kids who were not able to Fly a Cessna Airplane took it upon
    themselves to FLY a Jumbo 747 and outwitted the US Militaryand Civilian
    authorities. The “Jewish Lightning Insurance Scam” of the 1960’s is
    still alive and well has been put to good use by Larry Silverstein in
    putting 15 million down and comming out with 7 billion dollars for
    buidings that no one wanted to buy because it would have cost a billion
    dollars to remove the asbestos from. Then on top of that the people in
    America actually believe that they actually decide who is elected
    President or for that that actual VOTE is really counted and makes a
    difference in deciding who represents them in the White House and

    Yeh I agree that the AmericanNon-Jews are indeed American “GOYISHE KUP” or “STUPID CATTLE”!

  • apeman2502

    As long as the TSA and DHS REFUSE to arrest any of the perpetrators of the attacks of 9-11-2001, Fukushima, HAARP(hurricanes Katrina, Irene, and Sandy at least and hundreds of tornadoes), Wall Street looting, heroine importation, influence peddling in D.C., and a host of other crimes based on attacks by foreign based entities, their antics can be considered MOLESTATION, ONLY. They have wasted billions of dollars and the billions of rounds of hollow point ammunition procured by these perverts can only be intended for those who do not flirt back.

  • Chris Bray

    The Washington Post covered this hearing, poorly, and the comment thread is as depressing as they tend to be:

    Turns out that criticism of the TSA is a right-wing plot against public employee unions, and that conservatives are plotting against the TSA because they want to privatize it and make their friends in the one percent even wealthier. All mention of “rights” or of reasonable limits on government searches of innocent travelers is a nefarious diversion.

    This is what the liberal herd has descended to: all government good, all criticism of government bad. By contemporary standards, “Gideon’s Trumpet” is a Tea Party book.

    How did that happen?

    • Chris Bray

      “Please stop jamming your grubby meathook into my labia.”

      “Hey, that’s a government employee who belongs to a public sector union! Why are you standing up for the one percent, you pig!”

      It’s like the whole world turned into the Huffington Post.

  • john

    Sure hope so. I will fly again once that TSA is dead and buried.

  • hegelian dialect

    There are two types of laws. Written an unwritten. The DOI explains the unwritten as does the Bible, which include “The law of nature and natures god” as well as the 10 commandments. Law is all about relationships. The written law applies to one subject. That one subject is proprietary power over property. Although the “Law of the Land” is alliterative and poetic it is not true. The Constitution of 1789 claims to be the supreme law of the land. What Land? The American People are worshiping the Cult of Constitution! Why? It does not apply to you! Did you sign the DOI or Constitution? Congress only writes laws for US citizens/US persons (14th amendment) and the land owned by the United States, which is also known as Federal Territory. Hint…State of California is not the same as California. One is Federal Territory the other is not. America was founded on the four Organic Laws and are still in full force today. They can be located right under your nose or in USC Title 1-5 Volume 1. The unwritten law on non-Federal Territory is common law and is still in full force and effect in 49 states, except Louisiana. Does this information apply to TSA? Yes and a whole lot more. If interested, read all of the posts at

  • hegelian dialect

    Some time ago while working at Orlando Airport with GOAA it was mentioned that back in the day GOAA paid Disney to assess the Orlando traffic flows/patterns to assist with people moving initiatives and to make the airport a more efficient people moving facility. They did not say how much, but it was in the millions. GOAA implemented the changes and this made Orlando a very efficient airport to handle the large volume of visitors per year. Trust me, they have all of the stats on these details at GOAA. Then 9/11 happened. The TSA put in choke points and dismantled all of the changes that were put in place to maximize efficiency. Recently while flying out of Philadelphia Int. It was observed that while there were maybe 10 or so TSA workers standing around, only two were scanning boarding passes with approximately 300 people waiting in two queues. Two lines fed into 4 baggage handing lanes and everything was backed up. Folks this is problem, reaction, solution. TSA creates the problem, which are long lines, the solution is the trusted passenger program in which all travelers will undergo extensive checks to get this card, which is the end game solution. This is also the same game as EZ pass in Penna. At first it is voluntary. EZ pass solved some of the queueing issues. The toll booths which take cash although numerous are never fully staffed. It was recently announced that the the turnpike is going fully electronic by 2014. How is this possible? Wake up America, you are being herded like cows…

  • bob

    Ask the TSA if they check the shipping containers in the bottom of each plane. They don’t, feel safe after your frisking now, what a joke. and all they have to do is false flag something and put it on the news and all the dummies will believe and go along with it, by the way the dummies hold the majority these days! Just another dog and pony show to appease the sheeple.

  • bugspotter24

    Something tells me a dangerous terrorist will be caught by the TSA riiiiight before any measures are put into effect against it or its masters’ interests. Thankfully, an undercover agent will have infiltrated the lone nut unit and stopped any actual event from taking place but that won’t mean the TSA won’t have justified its unconstitutional, not to mention perverted, existence a while longer.
    Call it a hunch…

  • disqus_5MnaDmVz2z

    “The real security work would take place behind the scenes, prescreening
    every passenger with the help of technology and through coordination
    between intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and airlines”

    Wow, that is even worse! So, by buying a plane ticket, you are inviting and consenting to a detailed background check? Would this entail the issue of warrants to check your Internet habits, wiretap your phone, dig into your personal and professional associates, your family, etc., etc.? What a nightmare.

  • Uncle_Meat

    Forget about it. This committee is without teeth. It should have subpoenaed Pistole. If he refused, he should have been visited by the US Marshall and brought down to the floor of the hearing in handcuffs. This is all just fluff to allay the masses. The TSA will grow and become more intrusive as they come to your neighborhoods and pull you from your vehicle. This could get ugly folks but it’s what they want to break the will of the American traveler at sporting events and shopping malls. They want a fight and they surely will get a bloody street fight!

  • As long as people bicker over which political party is responsible, Washington very effectively is distracting you from the issue. Stop blaming Bush and the GOP, stop blaming Obama and the Democrats, focus on putting pressure on ALL of Congress NOW and getting these parasites off the taxpayer gravy train.

  • lifeofliberty

    “The real security work would take place behind the scenes, prescreening
    every passenger with the help of technology and through coordination
    between intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and airlines.”

    Lovely. This means a MASSIVE invasion of privacy.

    Some “improvement” this will be.

    I REFUSE to fly on Gestapo Airlines, period.

    • Daisiemae

      Big Brother is watching you.

  • chipster

    Nice summary Amy Alkon

  • ukrberserker

    The Nazis on Capitol Hill have won. Foreigners didn’t have anything to do with causing this. Just the Nazis in the Bush Administration, and the Bilderberg group.

    • Don’t forget that the Obama administration is continuing the abuses of the Bush administration. This is a bipartisan mess and a bipartisan assault on our freedoms.

  • To those who have; voluntarily stopped flying; given up careers so as not to endure airport harassment; started organizations and/or websites monitoring TSA activities and calling for a halt to its procedures; filmed TSA activities; participated in a protest, maybe even wearing a costume to do so; faced arrest for exercising rights and/or resisting TSA; filed petitions; filed complaints about TSA with ACLU, EPIC, and the Rutherford Institute; brought lawsuits against TSA; analyzed data related to TSA; traveled to Washington to make presentations about TSA; written extensively to Congress, newspapers, and other journals about TSA – “thank you” does not express the gratitude I feel for these people. Their actions go waaaayyy beyond clicking a Like button and maybe emailing a two-line note to Congress.

    Washington is Dysfunction Junction and does not run on logic. It runs on fear. Having said that, it is not the logic of this article per se, or any other presentation that has been shown to Washington – that is going to make Washington see the light.

    Whatever has been done on that list above ^^^, we need to keep doing it. 1000x more of it. Have you ever heard of “death by a thousand paper cuts.” If Washington won’t see the light, by golly, we can raise such a ruckus, that it gets more costly and obstructive by the day to deal with the volume of our letters and complaints.

  • Guest

    Congress is highly skilled at huffing and puffing and screaming and yet continues to shovel money at this agency. If you have seen the movie “Inside Job” you’ll know what I mean. How long they can keep up this split personality is beyond me.

    Will Congress do the right thing and shutter this agency? Or are they afraid of the hoards of angry constituents who lost their their make-work TSA jobs?

  • Congratulations to Chris and to Charles Leocha and the CTA for representing our position so strongly to this Congressional committee. I think it represents a huge step forward – two years ago the tone in Congress was very different. Two years ago you never would have heard a Congressman call TSA and its head arrogant and lacking in common sense, so to hear it now does give me hope. Yes, it will continue to be a difficult and slow battle to detach all these 65,000 blood-sucking leeches that thrive on thieving from our treasury. Entrenched bureaucracy is a monster to kill, but I have hope.

    • Drumbabe

      I will continue to be hopeful that Chris is right WHILE I continue to do my own lobbying with my elected officials (and the businesses that would benefit from me resuming my normal business travel volume).

    • Thanks, Sommer. We are all in this together, and it’s still our country, the last time I checked.

  • Bob

    Yes. Never going to happen. Simply because the military industrial complex will not allow it. Any hint of downsizing the agency will send a flood of lobbyists into the halls of congress.


    The terrorists never, ever have to do anything again, they have accomplished what they set out to do; they have America living in fear and submitting to violation of our civil rights. They changed America forever.

    The terrorists are far better judges of the American character than Americans. They figured out early on that most Americans no longer have the stomach for any kind of “risk,” so they capitalized by creating the “appearance of risk.” And left the US government to do the rest.

    The “shoe” bomber and the “underwear” bomber were never intended to explode. They were sent knowing they could not actually take down an airplane, but that they would either be killed by their own “explosives” when it caught fire, or they would be captured, which they were. Either way the terrorist would be successful, they would trigger a whole new round of restrictions and inspections.

    The terrorists now know all they have to do is let some rumor loose on the Internet and the US government will dutifully respond with new programs of searches, checks, civil rights violations, et al. They never actually have to risk doing anything, the rumor is enough.

    The damage done by the terrorists is 10% terrorist, 90% government.

    • Dominic

      “The terrorists never, ever have to do anything again, they have
      accomplished what they set out to do; they have America living in fear and submitting to violation of our civil rights. They changed America forever.

      The terrorists are far better judges of the American character than Americans.”


      The *only* terrorists are Americans or people directly working for the us. They are the drug/weapon/nuclear contraband traffickers at the CIA. They are the politicians, central banksters and Wall Streeters that committed massive fraud to loot our treasury and curtail our God-given liberties. They are the military-industrial complex that has spun out of control and is consuming over 50% of our nation’s output.

      We can’t fix a body that is 100% consumed by cancer. The only conclusion is death of this poisoned body politic. It’s way past time to dissolve the federal government and to start a new era of fact-finding and prosecutions.

      • Adam Evenson

        Hear! Hear!

      • David G

        Thank you! At last, have found some one who understands that the “terrorists” we are told to fear are manufactured so we have something or someone for us to fear. It is a fiction of the secret shadow government which controls the largely figurehead public government we “elected”.

    • stonehillady

      This was ALL outlined in the 1997 Plan for the New American Century PNAC, these guys knew they had to create a Bogeyman so they could implement going around the world & inforce nations that had resources that our International Corporations wanted to have & instead of them paying for it, we the American people would pay for it. At the same time, they could also start taking our rights & spy on anyone upset with trying to take away our money & constitutional rights thru this fairytale lie & 9/11 was the cataylis they needed to start their plan in motion.
      OH, may I mention Gitmo was NEVER a jail, it was & is a school to train Arabs to become Al-Qaeda mercenaries to subvert the Arab Spring, that is why they never closed it.

      • stonehillady, agree with some of this. But Gitmo is a prison, an illegal one. We tortured people there and we’re still illegally detaining people, almost all of them innocent, there.

        And one caveat about PNAC: the Obama admin and the Dems are just as guilty for what’s going on as the PNAC guys. Both parties are responsible for attacking people abroad and sh*tting on civil liberties at home.

        • stonehillady

          That is what I thought but, a call in on RNB radio who served down there said it was a convient stop over to train mercenaries, all those photos & tapes we saw on TV were faked for the media….Look everything they tell us is all bogus….!

    • soren

      the shoebomber and the underwear idiot were both handled by the cia/fbi, paid for, helped along and planned. guess who owned the company who makes all the body scanners?? cherthoff! this is a business and also a control program, where will it go from here. both those bombers were allowed on the planes, helped onto the planes… the government is complicit!!!

    • f8te

      There are no terrorist ya fucking moron!

      • David G

        f8te, we’ve all been lied to from day one. Busting a brother’s chops because he doesn’t know won’t help build the unity we need to fight back. Be tutorial instead of excoriating

    • meandu

      Your comments suggest that their exists a terrorist element outside of government.
      You only see half what’s going on. The real eyeopener comes when you
      finally understand that there is no terrorist group trying to damage
      America other than the mossad and the CIA. Israel terrorizes America and
      the world using low IQ arab patsies bordering on retardation and then
      points the finger at fictitious terror groups which do not exist outside
      of government propaganda.

  • 1amWendy

    Now if Congressional grandstanding would only turn into action….

    Gee! I might even fly commercial again!!

  • I wish I were as sanguine as you, Chris. But I think the curse of the TSA will be with us for many, many years. And all it would take is one little attack, whether real or false-flag, even if no one were injured, for it to get even worse. Our “security” overlords would impose even more punitive procedures on us, and the United Sheeple of America would fall right into line.

    • TSAisTerrorism

      They wouldn’t “fall right into line”, they’d beg for more.

      They already do. Remember: 30% of them are demanding anal probes as a condition to fly. What this country has become is a disaster.

    • I agree with Lisa. I am always mindful that bureaucracy protects itself. Especially when money is involved. The TSA is a jobs program for unskilled workers, those who supervise them, and a provider of dumptrucks of cash for the likes of Michael Chertoff, who’ve cashed in handsomely on their government tenure post-government.

  • JoeNTokyo

    Mr. Elliot says the name Airport Security Administration would be problematic. How about Airport Security System Electronic Surveilance?