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TSA is again facing legislation that would move toward reducing the size and scope of the agency beginning with replacing TSA screeners with more polite and professional private screeners. Pending legislation by Reps. Gerald Connolly and John Mica are threatening legislation to replace TSA screeners with private screeners if TSA doesn’t clean up its act and stop berating, harassing and otherwise abusing airline passengers
After three years of highly invasive and legally questionable security practices by the agency public resentment of the agency and its workers remains an issue. TSA criticism and reform is likely one of the few issues in the current political climate where there is overwhelming bi-partisan agreement that TSA is a problem and needs to be revamped.
The private screening initiative is hardly new having been introduced independently by Reps. John Mica and Kenny Marchant . Mica, who played a role in creating the agency, has become an ardent critic of TSA misdeeds, failures and corruption
The criticism comes from members of Congress who TSA has directly molested or abused including Senators and Representatives such as Canseco, Claire McCaskill, Leahy, Hatch, Schumer and Rand Paul who was both a victim and a witness,
Other legislators have witnessed first-hand TSA screeners routinely abusing innocent passengers, many of whom are elderly or disabled. Those critics include Rick Santorum, Collins, Blackburn, Broun, Hoyer, Steve King, Rogers and Cravaack.
While TSA’s abusive policies and practices are seldom making headlines, there remains a lingering and persistent dislike of the agency among travelers and the public at large. It is quite likely that the agency’s abusive and arrogant attitude prompted the shooting of four TSA workers at LAX in November.
Perhaps the 2014 mid-term elections will finally drive Congress to mandate reform or preferably replacement of the agency with a sensible system carried out by professional security personnel that is more suited to 21st century America rather than the current Stasi style system best left in1970’s era East Germany.
Lawmakers threaten TSA with private screeners
Bart Jansen, USA TODAY – January 14, 2014
WASHINGTON – Members of a House panel threatened Tuesday to privatize more airport screening unless the Transportation Security Administration improves its treatment of travelers.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said he plans legislation “one way or the other” to privatize all federal screeners within two years. He would leave TSA in charge of gathering intelligence, setting standards and running audits.
“If you come to Orlando airport or Sanford airport, what is going on is almost criminal to American citizens, the way they are treated,” said Mica, head of the Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on government operations, which held a hearing on private screeners. “This is the mess we’ve created.”
The criticism came the same day Congress began debating a spending bill that would cut $225 million from TSA and cap the number of screeners at 46,000. The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Gerald Connolly of Virginia, said 48,000 workers are categorized as screeners.
But Kelly Hoggan, TSA’s assistant administrator for security operations, said some of those workers categorized as screeners are actually managers and supervisors, so it isn’t immediately clear how the cap will affect checkpoints.
Hoggan assured Connolly that the agency would perform its job with the funding provided.
TSA performance remained a concern for lawmakers. Connolly said it was inexcusable for TSA screeners to bark 20 orders at him and other travelers during his last trip over the weekend – back up, put your hands up, take your shoes off – without saying please. He urged the agency to become more polite or risk legislation. “When we mistreat them by barking orders at them as if they are cattle, not people, we actually diminish spirit of cooperation,” Connolly said. “I’ve had it, and I think a lot of the public has had it. There is no excuse for it.”
Screening jobs are tough because the staffers must be constantly alert for contraband while still providing customer service, Hoggan said. The Nov. 1 shooting death of TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez at a checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport illustrates the perils involved with the job.