TSA You’re Fired


On the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, four organized terrorist attacks led by the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger airliners operated by two major United States air carriers. These four airline carriers departed from airports in the northeastern United States destined for California were hijacked by 19 terrorists. Two of the planes, Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines flight 175, were rammed into the north and south buildings of the World Trade Center compound in Lower Manhattan, New York.


A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia which led to a partial collapse of the buildings west side. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was originally flown toward Washington D.C., however, crashed into a field in Stonycreek administrative district close to Shanksville, Pennsylvania when the passengers took management of the plane. The attacks killed 2,996 people, wounding over 6,000 others, and instigated at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. 9/11 is the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest event for firefighters and law enforcement officers, with 343 and 72 slain (History.com).On the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, four organized terrorist attacks led by the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger airliners operated by two major United States air carriers. These four airline carriers departed from airports in the northeastern United States destined for California were hijacked by 19 terrorists. Two of the planes, Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines flight 175, were rammed into the north and south buildings of the World Trade Center compound in Lower Manhattan, New York. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia which led to a partial collapse of the buildings west side.


The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was originally flown toward Washington D.C., however, crashed into a field in Stonycreek administrative district close to Shanksville, Pennsylvania when the passengers took management of the plane. The attacks killed 2,996 people, wounding over 6,000 others, and instigated at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. 9/11 is the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest event for firefighters and law enforcement officers, with 343 and 72 slain (History.com). “There’s no bigger task than protecting the homeland of our country”, exclaimed President George W. Bush. On November 19th, 2001, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act was signed into law by President Bush. This legislation endorsed the creation of a new federal government agency intended to reinforce the security of the nation’s transportation structures. TSA was generated in direct response to September 11th to help avert similar assaults in the forthcoming. TSA has employed, taught, and positioned nearly 60,000 personnel (Americanhistroy.si.edu). Prior to TSA, private companies oversaw airport screening. Baseball bats, box cutters, darts, knitting needles, scissors, and all liquids were allowed on planes. Airport conduct and presence were not monitored by private screeners and rarely caused unease.


Similarly, terrorist watch lists did not exist, which target minorities or people of Arabic origin (Huffingtonpost.com). The primary research question I am going to investigate is should the United States government privatize the Transportation Security Administration. The United States is home to 13,513 airports, more than any other country in the world (Worldatlas.com). Many of these airports see up to 10 million people a year. On May 16th, Chicago’s O’Hare International caused more than 450 passengers to miss their flights due to a broken airport security structure. An internal investigation exposed that undercover agents were able to sneak mock explosives or forbidden weapons through the agency’s security checkpoint 95% of the time. Since 2001, TSA has suffered more than 25,000 security breaches where travelers were able to gain access to constrained spaces or get items onboarding without comprehensive inspection. The agency’s latest budget provides $7.4 billion to run its airport security program and funds equipment. Nonetheless, much of the equipment is acquired and stockpiled away in warehouses. TSA spent $30 million on 207 “puffer” machines to distinguish explosives, but the devices had not been properly hardened, had extraordinary operating expenses, and merely did not work as planned (Catoinstiute.org). TSA supporters have pointed to budget slashes and workforce layoffs to justify their weak performance, but its deteriorating budget is not the issue. A number of case reports have confirmed that private screeners are more effective at their jobs and allow travelers to get done faster.


Under TSA’s partner program which was created in 1996, 22 airports have been certified to deal with private companies to manage airport screening operations (CNN.com). Evidently, TSA has rejected most airport bids to engage Screen Partnership Program based on uncertain analyses that tend to misjudge TSA. “A problematic government employee working for TSA who mistreats passengers is difficult to fire states security” expert Justin Hienz states, however, SPP screeners can be fired instantly if they “insult someone, infringe, on their rights or treat them less than fairly.” Private screeners are held to a greater standard and are regularly tested. A recent Government Accountability Office report discovered from 2014 to 2016, displayed that TSA handled 45,153 cases of misconduct by employees. Nearly half involved unexcused or excessive absences or tardiness, absence without leave, failure to follow leave procedures. More than 6,000 involved screening and security offenses. Another 2,703 were for things like sexual misconduct, fighting, and abusive language.


Keep in that TSA employs only 53,000 workers (Investors.com). Between 2002 and 2011, TSA spent $2.4 billion just on the employment and guidance of new staff participants (Catoinstiute.org). The TSA’s budget has ascended more than 41% since 2005 (Miamihearld.com). A very significant upturn in the budget of the federal government. Canada for example rely on private companies to screen passengers at airports. Canada expenses are 15% lesser than in the United States. Research from the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has found possible savings of $1 billion over five years if just our top 35 busiest airports functioned as cost-effectively as the private screeners (CNN.com). The charge of the routine of air marshals has risen from $486 million in 2003 to about $942 million in 2013. A supplementary expenditure of the program is the revenue loss to airlines for setting aside first-class chairs for the marshals, which totals about $220 million a year (Catoinstitue.org). Air Marshals averages about five arrests per year, which means that each apprehension cost taxpayers about $220 million per year. Pre 9/11, airport security was privatized.


Many of the experts who provide reasons to privatize the TSA do not mention how the private firms would improve any of these areas. Security contracts were often granted to the lowest buyer, and security officers were inadequately waged and educated. The frequency of worker staff renewal rate was great, in some circumstances 400 percent a year. Numerous agents working on September 11th, 2001 could not identity mace or box cutters despite at this time they were banned from carry on bags. Background checks that served to weed out convicts were not normally done in the private sector. They would regularly not do this to cut down on costs. All Transportation Security Agents must be a U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals and are granted a National Security Clearance. This leads to the question do you want someone who did not undergo a background check receiving a security clearance (Motleyrice.com. TSA admits it has had problems, but they have undergone significant staff changes. In 2015, the agency’s former head Michael Carraway was replaced in June 2015 after reports that the Department of Homeland Security succeeded to smuggle fake weapons and explosives passed TSA.


Disappointment away, the most significant reality is a recurrence of 9/11 has not happened under the agency. Ricard Reid, known as the “Shoe Bomber” terrorist plot was foiled on a Paris to Miami flight on December 22nd, 2001. Following this TSA began making United States citizens removing shoes at security airports. In 2006, law enforcement arrested 21 people suspected in connection with a plot to blow up seven passenger jets. Their plan was hiding explosives in liquid containers. TSA adopted the 3-1-1 rule, banning liquids at security checkpoints (Motleyrice.com). Many passengers complain about these policies or are disgruntled they cannot bring certain items on the planes but, this saves lives because the TSA adopted these policies. Will the private sector continue these traditions or try to cut costs? The bottom-line is the TSA job is to protect airline passengers and since 9/11 we have not seen an horrendous event. 


During the latest government stoppage unpaid TSA employees have called in sick record statistics and some are were resigning outright. Airports across the country were stressed with absences, longer lines, behind flights, enormously unfulfilled consumers, and most importantly new fears to our national security. The government shutdown supplies the newest serving of confirmation in a long series of causes why airport screeners should be reverted to the private sector where they will be better skilled, better compensated, more encouraged, and well managed. We should start to take different measures to our airport security and follow in the footsteps of other countries. Airport security shouldn’t be questioned to the notions of congressional schoolyard clashes and control skirmish it should be in the influences of the private sector (WashingtonExaminer.com).