In light of recent terrorist attacks in Paris, many would agree that the United States needs to reevaluate its own domestic safety measures to prevent a similar attack on American soil. As it turns out, we can already safely conclude that we are failing. Just today, CBS46 in Atlanta reported that a local man accidently flew from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to O’Hare in Chicago with a loaded revolver in his carry-on bag without a single Transportation Safety Administration agent stopping him (Stinchcomb).
Coming on the heels of an audit this year in which the TSA failed to detect hidden weapons 95% of the time (Bradner), this development only reinforces what many of us already know: the TSA is nothing more than useless security theater meant to imbue travellers with a false sense of security while failing to prevent real disasters. In the interest of better utilizing manpower and funding in the fight against terrorism on American shores (and saving the average airline passenger a few headaches in the process), our government must defund the TSA immediately.
These recent developments alone would justify heightened scrutiny of the TSA, but they are not isolated incidents. A 2010 Government Accountability Office investigation found that the TSA’s $200 million SPOT (Screening of Passengers by Observational Techniques) program had failed to catch a single terrorist, including a man later arrested for the attempted car bombing of Times Square earlier that same year (Keteyian). In 2012, John Halinski, the agency’s then-Assistant Administrator for Global Strategies, flatly admitted that the controversial full-body scanners employed in airports across the nation boasted an identical success rate (Leocha).
In spite of repeated, grievous failures to fulfill its purpose, the TSA received a budget in excess of $7.3 billion for the 2015 fiscal year (United States). The TSA is clearly a financial black hole that takes and takes from the federal budget while netting the American people no additional safety. The only sensible course of action is to abolish this useless, wasteful agency and redirect its funding towards intelligence agencies such as the CIA that have far more power to prevent terrorism.
Perhaps what we should learn from the attacks in Paris is that terrorism takes many forms, but the TSA takes only one. Terrorists can strike in planes, trains, performance halls, public squares, or soccer stadiums; meanwhile, the TSA focuses all of its attention on one of those possibilities alone, its very existence molded by our unfading memories of September 11th. The threat of terrorism is so much more nebulous than we often allow ourselves to believe, yet the front lines of our so-called defenses address only one of its many aspects—and they can’t even get that right.
Bradner, Eric, and Rene Marsh. “TSA Screeners Failed Tests to Detect Explosives, Weapons.” CNN. Cable News Network, 2 June 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
Keteyian, Armen. “TSA’s Program to Spot Terrorists a $200M Sham?” CBS News. CBS Interactive, 19 May 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
Leocha, Charles. “TSA Executive Admits Not a Single Terrorist-related Arrest Has Resulted from Whole-body Scanners.” TSA News. N.p., 17 May 2012. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
Stinchcomb, La-Keya, Dante Renzulli, and Cheryl Glassford. “Passenger with Gun in Carry-on Goes Unnoticed by TSA.” CBS46 News. CBS46, 15 Nov. 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
United States. Department of Homeland Security. Dhs.gov. Department of Homeland Security, 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.