Wednesday Sep 12, 201210:33 PM GMT
US Congress slams TSA
Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:31PM
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A new House Report has slammed the Transportation Security Administration for "failing to meet taxpayers' expectations."


The report, prepared by the House Committee on Homeland Security, says that the TSA must become a "leaner, smarter organization," and concedes that the agency's insensitivity and obsession with defending unpopular airport screening procedures is impeding security.


The report characterizes the TSA as a bloated bureaucracy that is bogged down in promoting policies that do not match current threat levels.


"The agency has gone down a troubling path of overspending, limiting private-sector engagement, and failing to sufficiently protect passenger privacy," said transportation security subcommittee leader Mike Rogers at Tuesday's hearing.


"Eleven years after 9/11, the American people expect to see tangible progress in transportation security, with effective operations that respect both their privacy and their wallets," the committee report notes. "The private sector is best suited to this challenge, not the federal government."


The report also noted that the TSA has failed to make it clear why it has switched to a policy of invasive 'enhanced' pat downs, or what specific threat the procedure addresses.


"Pat-downs have hit a nerve with the general public, and TSA has failed to adequately explain why it continues to use this procedure two years after its initial rollout," the committee said.


Recommending a reduction in pat downs, the report also slammed the TSA for taking a whole year to exclude children from the enhanced procedure after it was introduced in October 2010.


Turning to radiation firing body scanners, the committee recommends that the TSA sponsor "an independent analysis" of the health risks of body scanners and install privacy filters on all devices.


The Report cites the decision in EPIC v. DHS, pointing out that the TSA has failed to abide by the ruling of a federal appeals court to "act promptly" to receive public comments on the deployment of the scanners.


The report also questioned why the TSA has grown exponentially in size when the amount of travelers has decreased.


Geoff Freeman, chief operating officer of the U.S. Travel Association, a Washington-based trade group for tourism agencies and providers, told the committee that the TSA's budget has increased 68 percent from 2004 to 2011, while the number of passengers has not significantly changed.


"The real threat of terrorism, the economic consequences of inefficient screening, and increase in screening costs, add up to create one of the biggest problems facing the travel industry today," Freeman said, adding that "a 2010 survey found that travelers would take two to three more flights per year, if the hassles in security screening were reduced."




Frequent fliers in the U.S. have scolded the TSA's performance in the nation's airports in a survey released this week by Business travel blog Frequent Business Traveler. Out of 1,852 readers surveyed, over 90 percent concluded that the TSA was doing a "poor" or "fair" job in airport security screening, with just 1.2 percent saying it was doing an "excellent" job. Prison Planet


In 2010, the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] revealed that it had received over 900 complaints about the TSA in one month. The figure far eclipsed the 600 formal complaints that the TSA said it had received in 2009.


Hundreds of letters of complaint about the TSA's invasive security procedures released this week under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) include numerous horror stories about TSA screeners directly touching people's genitals during pat downs. Prison Planet


A TSA screener admitted to a woman traveling through Houston Airport that she was prevented from boarding her flight for retaliatory reasons as punishment for a bad attitude rather than any genuine security threat, after the woman refused to allow TSA agents to test her drink for explosives.


Documents uncovered under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that in the year prior to rolling out radiation body scanners in airports, the TSA was drawing up long term plans to deploy the machines at "ferry terminals, railway, and mass transit stations" as well as unspecified "other locations." Prison Planet




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