TSA Buys Off Politician in Public: Gives Work to Campaign Donors

Why do politicians critical of the TSA only want to “reform” it, and never abolish it? The answer is obvious if you follow the money: “reform” pays better.

In the past, House Republican John Mica of Florida has made headlines saying airports should “ditch” the TSA. Mica’s a Republican, and for all I know has many virtues. But his call to ditch the TSA might give you false hope.

The TSA just announced that

“it awarded a sole source contract to FirstLine Transportation Security Inc., Cleveland, Ohio, for private airport screening services at the Kansas City International Airport (MCI). ‘This contract will address the requirements of the Screening Partnership Program and the security screening services at MCI,’ TSA said in the solicitation.”

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And why FirstLine? The story tells us. “In the past, FirstLine has supported Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), a frequent critic of TSA who managed to expand the SPP through legislation this year.” The SPP is the Strategic Partnership Program which allows private contractors to be hired by the TSA to do some of the TSA’s work. This is what Mica has been pushing for through all his TSA attacks.

What does SPP mean for Americans who don’t like being digitally stripped and radiated, or groped like a young girl on stage with Jimmy Savile? It means nothing. As FOX News pointed out a couple of years ago:

“The TSA, meanwhile, is not opposed to calls for privatizing airport security. ‘All commercial airports are regulated by TSA whether the actual screening is performed by TSA officers or private companies,’ a TSA spokesman told Fox News. ‘TSA sets the security standards that must be followed and includes the use of enhanced patdowns and imaging technology, if installed at the airport.’ That means private contractors are not a cure-all for passengers fed up with taking off their shoes for security checks, passing through full-body scanners or getting frisked.”

So SPP does nothing for Americans but it does a great deal for FirstLine. It repays their investment in Mica. FOX News reported this back in 2010.

“Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., a longtime critic of the TSA, counts among his campaign contributors some of the companies that might take the TSA’s place. In the past 13 years, he has received almost $81,000 in campaign donations from political action committees and executives connected to some of the private contractors already at 16 U.S. airports.”

None of Mica’s statements about “ditching” the TSA was ever meant to free Americans from scans or molestation. He was purely pushing for his sponsors to get a piece of the action. His “governing” is nothing but lobbying for a corporation. Americans who latched onto his rhetoric thinking he had their freedom in mind were being misled.

What will make FirstLine better than plain TSA? Looking at their website, all I can see is the claim that they will be better with “customers” (because that’s the TSA word for prisoners these days). But why should we believe that? FirstLine did not get this job by making customers happy in the marketplace. They did not get the job by proving to airlines that they would make the customer experience better. They got the job by buying a Congressman who had the power to use his authority and the media to pressure the TSA into giving them the job.

We Americans have just been bought and sold. That is all. And it is all openly reported. No one involved has any shame.

(Note: if you didn’t catch the reference to being groped “like a girl on stage with Jimmy Savile,” a Google News search will tell you plenty. Below is a video of the event I had in mind.)


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