PHILADELPHIA, PA (BocaNewsNow.com) — DECEMBER 15, 2011 — While we try not to over-editorialize here at BocaNewsNow.com, we do have to ask this question: If the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) supposedly does such a good job screening, why do they need to double check their work by inconveniencing travelers at the gate by re-examining their bags?
Case in point: A flight last evening from Philadelphia to West Palm Beach. This is — lovingly — a flight routinely loaded with Bubbies and Babies. It’s one of those flights where there are routinely more pre-boards due to wheel chairs then there are self-propelled passengers walking down the jetway without assistance. Perhaps fearing the deadly effects of Matzo Ball Soup interacting with Baby Formula, the motley crew of agents (seen in the photo) randomly chose this flight to re-examine bags — bags that had already been scanned, x-rayed, and pilfered through at the main security checkpoint.
The TSA will tell you that the key to security is being random. Anyone who has spent any time covering the TSA in the media — or living in airports as a frequent flier — will tell you this is code for, “calling our actions ‘random’ is great cover for being inept.” And when your bag is being re-examined by a group of people who look like they just left the smoking area at middle school, the word “inept” seems to be more fitting than “random.” We suspect this flight was chosen because the group of agents you see in the photo had just double-checked a flight at the gate next door.
Why move their screening table any further than they have to?
The problem, as we see it, is that the TSA is not law enforcement. Despite the shiny badge and pretty blue uniform, that person asking you to empty your pockets, or telling you your bag needs to be re-examined, is making somewhere around $30,000 a year (apply here), and undergoes training that — as we reported on for a national media outlet shortly after 9/11 — includes identifying pictures of weapons in a flip book.
Real law enforcement officers are professionals who undergo constant training and — in most cases — bring pride and expertise to the badge. The TSA requires that you:
“Have a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) credential OR at least one year of full-time work experience in the security industry, aviation screening, or as an X-ray technician.”
For that you get government benefits.
TSA supporters will say that there have been no attacks since 9/11. We say sometimes being lucky is more important than being good. And while there are absolutely good and professional TSA workers, and we want to believe professional investigative work going on behind the scenes, we wonder if the TSA may actually help its own image by being a little more sensible.
Targeting an oversold flight with Bubbies and Babies heading to West Palm Beach doesn’t create an image of safety. It creates an image of an out-of-touch agency with out-of-touch workers.
But the TSA will undoubtedly call such secondary screening of a flight like this the art of being “random.”