They don’t need to see me naked — some suggestions for TSA

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I do a lot of traveling so I’m quite familiar with the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). In my overall experience, these are good -hearted Americans who are doing their duty.

Now, I admit, there are one or two who are lacking in “customer service skills.” I remember coming back from a trip to Israel and having some nice skin cream from the Dead Sea that a TSA agent in Newark confiscated and tossed into the trash bin – even though I showed him the purchase receipt. Funny thing, it got through security at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.

So on that subject, Poltico has an article by former TSA Agent Jason Edward Harrington entitled, “Dear America, I saw you naked. And yes we ere laughing. Confessions of an ex-TSA Agent.”

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Harrington says he was called into his boss’ office after he sent a letter to the New York Times after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had tried to detonate 80 grams of a highly explosive powder while on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Harrington said

The TSA saw the near-miss as proof that aviation security could not be ensured without the installation of full-body scanners in every U.S. airport. But the agency’s many critics called its decision just another knee-jerk response to an attempted terrorist attack. I agreed, and wrote to the Times saying as much.

He kept his job, but Harrington said he hated it, “patting down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show.”

The story I found most appalling was of having to confiscate a bottle of champagne from a group of Marines coming home from Afghanistan intended as a celebration for young decorate soldier in a wheelchair, both legs lost to an I.E.D.

Sadly, these experiences had a negative effect on Harrington as well as others, as he said,

I quickly discovered I was working for an agency whose morale was among the lowest in the U.S. government. In private, most TSA officers I talked to told me they felt the agency’s day-to-day operations represented an abuse of public trust and funds.

I always offer a simple thank you to the TSA agents when I’m flying. I recognize theirs is a thankless job, not because of who they are, bu the bureaucrats who develop the insidious rules and regulations which restrict the use of common sense and wise discretion.

Do we have a fool-proof airport security system? Absolutely not, actually I believe we operate under a false sense of security to placate a government hierarchy. Why don’t we institute a trend analysis system of airport security? I doubt we will have another shoe bomber.

My solution would be to establish a base set of federal airport security standards issued for all airports. Instead of a federal TSA agency, I’d delegate that responsibility to the respective airports. They would have to maintain the level of standards issued from the federal government, but nothing could restrain them from adding standards based upon their respective locations. And there would be regular announced and unannounced inspections.

Saturday I fly back from St. Louis to West Palm Beach. I will thank the TSA agents who, for the most part, are doing their best under conditions of stupidity.

What has been your best and worst experience with the TSA?

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