Congress and the TSA: They're Both Terrible At Their Jobs

Created: 10 November, 2017
Updated: 17 October, 2022
3 min read


Most people know how it is to go through airport security in post-9/11 America. Experiences vary from person to person, but most people will say it's a hassle to say the least.

But as TSA agents confiscate the bottle of water you can just buy in the airport and take on the plane, a new report shows the agency is really bad at stopping actual threats from getting through security checkpoints.

ABC News reports that recent undercover tests show the TSA failure rate to stop dangerous weapons like knives, guns, and potentially even bombs is astonishingly high.

"In recent undercover tests of multiple airport security checkpoints by the Department of Homeland Security, inspectors said screeners, their equipment or their procedures failed more than half the time, according to a source familiar with the classified report," ABC News reports.

When asked if the failure rate was 80 percent, their source responded, "You are in the ballpark."

From ABC News:

"In a public hearing after a private classified briefing to the House Committee on Homeland Security, members of Congress called the failures by the Transportation Security Administration disturbing.

Rep. Mike Rogers went as far as to tell TSA Administrator David Pekoske, "This agency that you run is broken badly, and it needs your attention."

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Here's the thing: The poor performance by the TSA is not new.

Headlines come out every year about the baffling failure rate of TSA screeners to detect legitimate threats to passengers and airline staff under these undercover tests. And every year, members of Congress bring out TSA administrators to wag a finger at them.

Yet, there are few changes to TSA policy, equipment, or practices. Passengers have the same experience going through TSA today that they had a few years ago.

And no matter how many undercover tests are carried out to determine the efficiency of the TSA, the agency is still apparently bad at doing the one thing it is tasked to do.

If there is one agency under the government's purview that embodies the current state of government dysfunction -- it's the TSA. Little accountability, ineffective leadership, nothing changes, and yet the public continues to fund it, and is forced to endure a status quo that puts their interests last.

Rep. Rogers telling a TSA administrator, "This agency that you run is broken badly, and it needs your attention," is the pot calling the kettle black. Rogers could have said that in a mirror and it would have been -- for the most part -- appropriate and true.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the TSA is a broken agency, because they are run by a broken department that is poorly overseen by a broken, dysfunctional government.

What is Congress doing about the failures of the DHS and the TSA? Nothing significant. You would think lawmakers would be a bit more willing to take action to ensure the safety of their constituents, but a failure to take substantive action has become the status quo on Capitol Hill.

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The TSA hearings where agency administrators are paraded out just to be lambasted are a great opportunity for lawmakers to grandstand, but that's the only thing that comes out of them. America deserves better.

Photo Credit: Carolina K. Smith / shutterstock.com

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