Beleaguered TSA May Wind Up Loser in Budget Battles

National Defense, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Beleaguered TSA May Wind Up Loser in Budget Battles


* As the Department of Homeland

Security agency that comes into contact with the general public most often, the Transportation Security Administration has become one of the government's primary punching bags.

There are almost weekly instances of grannies or mothers of toddlers accusing its agents of not practicing common sense at airport checkpoints. Lawmakers, in response, are poised to cut some of the maligned agency's budget. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has requested $7.6 billion for TSA, $197 million less than the 2012 enacted levels.

Rep. John Mica, R-FIa., is one of Congress' most vocal TSA critics. As chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he has a lot to say about the agency - none of it good. Along with agents patting down the elderly, there are bigger concerns about high-profile cases where terrorists boarded aircraft. The most famous case was the alleged Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

TSA has a layered approach to security "and every layer is farcical," he said at an aviation security panel sponsored by the National Journal in Washington, D. C. "Every one of these layers we have fails or will fail," he said.

Mica is privy to classified data on the effectiveness of TSA officer training and screening technology. If members of the audience could see the same reports that he can, they would "fall off their chairs," he said. He described the entire system as a "sieve."

Mica held a hearing in May about the large amount of screening equipment TSA was storing in warehouses because there were not enough trained personnel to use them. The sense that TSA has acquired machines that it cannot use may lead to the budget cuts.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Government Reform and Oversight Committee after conducting a joint investigation accused TSA of "wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars by inefficiently deploying screening equipment and technology to commercial airports. …

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