As I am writing this, I am in Arizona visiting my parents. I went through airport security screening when I flew here and had no problems and I know I’ll have to do it again when I fly home. When I went through security this time, not only did I have to take my laptop out, but I also had to open my carryon suitcase to remove the bag with my toiletries. As I did, the TSA agent standing on the other side of the conveyor belt went out of his way to look into my suitcase, trying to see what all I had inside.
At first I thought that perhaps he was just doing his job and being observant and looking to make sure I wasn’t hiding anything. Then I read a report about comments made by John Halinski, the TSA Deputy Administrator about TSA employees and their criminal dealings.
He was responding to questions about the integrity of TSA screeners in light of all the bad publicity they have received lately. Incidents such as a Dulles airport TSA manager arrested for operating a prostitution ring; or the agent in Jackson, Mississippi who stabbed a fellow TSA agent to death while off duty; or the group of screening agents caught sleeping on the job in New Jersey; or the dozens of screening agents in Hawaii that weren’t screening checked baggage for explosives.
In defending the reputation of the airport screening agency, Halinski stated:
“If you have an organization of 60,000 people, that’s like a city. You’re always going to have crime in a city. You’re always going to have people who don’t do things that are proper and make mistakes. I’m not saying we are different from any other group of Americans; I’m saying we are exactly like every group of Americans.”
I agree that human nature is human nature and that there are bound to be a few bad apples in the mix, but let’s face it, you’re talking about an organization of people that are supposed to be protecting the American people from terrorists. But Halinski has to face the fact that the job the TSA calls for should be conducted by trustworthy and law abiding people.
If everyone used his rationale, then we should expect pedophiles and sexual predators to work in daycare and schools. There are hundreds of thousands of teachers across the U.S. so we should expect some of them to sexually abuse their students like Jerry Sandusky did. Since there are thousands of Border Patrol agents, should we expect some of them to be smuggling drugs and people across the border? We have a million military personnel, so should we expect a number of them to start shooting each other from time to time? How many law enforcement officers are there in the country? Are we just supposed to accept that some of them are going to be criminals too?
Like I said before, human nature is human nature, but in reality, it appears to me that TSA has very poor standards and screenings of their own employees. If they can’t secure a more trustworthy workforce, then why should we trust them to protect us from terrorists?
If you asked, me, I would clean house at the TSA and start at the top and get some people in charge that know what they’re doing and how to properly screen prospective employees better than they have been doing.
As for my return trip home in a couple of days? I think I’ll strategically place a shirt covering everything in the suitcase except the toiletries and see if any nosy agent still insists on looking.