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TSA: Beefed up airport security could roil summer travel lines

Bomb blasts in Brussels two weeks ago have caused U.S. security officials to do a reassessment back home, meaning summer travelers will likely see a bigger police presence and more random searches before flying this year.

TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger told reporters Friday that the agency has significantly stepped up its visible presence after the Brussels blasts, just one effort to deter would-be copy cats from targeting U.S. airports and train stations.

 “Visibility is a deterrent factor and it’s a disruptive factor too,” he said.
So, more government employees standing around doing nothing is a security enhancement. Got it.
This is is Neffenger’s excuse, but here is the real reason.
“I care about lines, it’s not that I don’t … [but] we have to do our jobs. We learned that last year,” he added, referencing a series of security failures that embarrassed the agency.
The security failures referenced in the quote above were as follows,

An internal investigation that leaked Monday, first reported by ABC News, revealed that undercover agents had been able to carry mock explosives and weapons through security checkpoints undetected 67 out of 70 times. The report led to a reshuffling Monday night in which Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson removed TSA acting chief Melvin Carraway.
What this means is that when an internal test revealed that TSA screening was a joke, the Department of Homeland Security decided that the best way to reassure the traveling public that the TSA was not a joke was by adding to the inconvenience of airport travel. Not only by the people flying, but people that were dropping them off, picking them up, or conducting other business at the airport. All while not catching even one terrorist. EVER.
Look for increased screening of nubile teen age girls and elderly people wearing incontinence garments, but no “profililng” of suspicious looking males of military age. That would be nasty ole profiling.
Not that all that extra screening is guaranteed to deter, let alone catch anyone.

But even with more security patrols, bomb-sniffing dogs and bag checks, Neffenger wouldn’t say for certain that a Brussels-like attack couldn’t happen in the U.S.

The Brussels terrorists picked nonsecure areas of the city’s airport and metro system to set off bombs that killed at least 32 people and injured hundreds of others.

And though TSA’s main responsibility lies beyond the security screening barricades, Neffenger said there is “a lot more patrolling of public areas here than I believe was the case in Brussels.”

At the airports I’ve traveled through, security outside the so called “sterile area” is handled by local police and in some cases private security. Which is how it should be unless the federal government is going to claim jurisdiction over every inch of an airport. In which case security screening should take place on the approach roads to the airport.

Yeah, that will work.
While the TSA is worried about the terrorist threat posed by the elderly and teenage girls, they appear not to care so much about something that should be worrying them.

Nelson said the Atlanta airport worker gun smuggling ring uncovered in December 2014 and more recently, bombs snuck onto commercial planes overseas, make it imperative that TSA push airports to tighten up access and screening for their employees.

“Atlanta, Miami and Orlando,” have thorough worker vetting in place, Nelson said. “What about the rest of the 297 airports nationwide?”

Neffenger said the agency and airports have taken significant steps in recent months to tighten worker access — but Nelson wasn’t satisfied.

“The only person that is going to get the airports off their duff to limit the access into their airports is going to be you and your administration,” Nelson said during the hearing Wednesday.

Three airports have a process in place for vetting airport and vendor employees who have access to secure areas of airports. Otherwise, it’s up to the employers and local police to make sure that terrorists aren’t sneaking onto airports under the guise of  being “service employees”. 

Because we know that the local police and employers have much more extensive resources than the federal government.

Got it.

Neffenger defended the agency during his meeting with reporters Friday.

There are “a lot of players” in airport security, he said, not just TSA. Therefore, he said, it’s up to everyone — including local police and employers — to vet airport workers and cargo, such as catering equipment, that enter secure areas.

“I think that’s a shared responsibility. There’s no way that TSA could — we don’t have the current resources to physically check everybody,” Neffenger said.

“Duck, Dodge, Hide!”
Now we have a better idea of who is really in charge of the TSA,

Enjoy the show. After all, we’re all paying for it.

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Wow. To say that the TSA has been a miserable failure would be an insult to miserable failures.

    Only 3 airports have employee screening in place? The mind boggles. TSA is fundamentally unserious about actual airport security and this report shows it is more about security theater and inconvenience to non-threatening passengers than actual effective security. I suspect the three stooges would do a better and more competent job.

    • Aaron, are you suggesting that I’ve insulted my personal heroes? The Stooges, not the TSA.

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