The TSA Must be Abolished

BY CHRIS EDES

Libertarian Party of New York’s candidate for U.S. Senate

A recent poll by the Associated Press ranked the TSA as unpopular with Americans as the IRS. In response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, something had to be done — but did we do the right thing?

An increasing number of Americans are saying “No.” Most travelers have had at least one frustrating experience with the TSA. Of greater concern are scientific studies showing the TSA actually makes us less safe.

Earlier this year, a four-year-old girl hugged her grandma while passing through security, causing TSA agents to suspect she might have been passed a weapon. Their first reaction was to yell at the little girl. When TSA agents approached the terrified four-year-old for a pat down, she ran the other way, crying and shaking uncontrollably. In response, TSA agents threatened to shut down the airport.

Another incident occurred in Florida when TSA agents opened an urn containing the ashes of a deceased family member and spilled them, then laughed at the family’s distress.

At least the TSA keeps us safe, right? Think again. TSA body scanners, banned in Europe as a threat to human health due to radiation emissions, are largely ineffective. At Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, an undercover agent was able to smuggle guns through security every time she tried.

Unlike the metal detectors they replaced, body scanners are not reliable at detecting metal objects. Nor can they reliably detect explosives. TSA agents have confirmed this off the record numerous times, and scientific studies such as “An evaluation of airport x-ray backscatter units based on image characteristics,” by Leon Kaufman and Joseph W. Carlson confirm the anecdotes.

Last year, a federal court ordered the TSA to begin taking comments from the public regarding body scanners, and justify its policies, but the TSA has yet to comply. The TSA is not only incompetent, it is out of control.

We need to abolish the TSA and return control of security to individual airports. Individual airports must respond to customer complaints, and people must get fired when they do something wrong. Greater accountability and fewer bureaucratic pressures will also ensure better security.

Last year, TSA agents allowed a man to carry box cutters on board a flight at JFK Airport. Let’s stop pretending the TSA is going to protect us against the next terrorist attack, and return to common sense and common decency in protecting our skies.

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