Goodbye TSA!

Break out the champaign. It’s party time!

The Transportation Security Administration, once the flagship agency in the nation’s $20 billion effort to protect air travelers, is now slated for dismantling.

Boy, I didn’t see this one coming. Hopefully, the reports of the TSA’s demise will not prove premature. I’d always assumed that once a government agency was given that much power, any attempt to curtail it would only land you in an administrative gulag that’d make Siberia look like a cakewalk.

My first encounter with the TSA occurred at John Wayne Airport in 2002. I was singled out for “additional screening” because I was dressed nicely. At least, that was the official answer. I asked the screener why all the folks singled out were white. The answer: to do otherwise would be racist.

Then there was the time I made the mistake of asking a screener in Seattle why they were confiscating tweezers from airline pilots when those same pilots would only minutes later be occupying a cockpit containing a large, razor sharp crash axe.

Yeah, that was a mistake. Don’t confuse them with logic. Or questions. And whatever happens, don’t stand up for your rights. Or admit to possessing a pilot certificate.

The Washington Post article was a bit more diplomatic:

The TSA has been plagued by operational missteps, public relations blunders and criticism of its performance from both the public and legislators. Its “No Fly” list has mistakenly snared senators. Its security screeners have been arrested for stealing from luggage, and its passenger pat-downs have set off an outcry from women.

I’m really starting to like the Post. They don’t just report the news, they use it as the source for a genuine comedy routine.

The agency’s very existence, in fact, remains an open question, given that the legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security contains a clause permitting the elimination of TSA as “distinct entity” after November 2004.”TSA, at the end of the day, is going to look more like the Postal Service,” said Paul C. Light, a public service professor at New York University and a Brookings Institution scholar who has tracked the agency since its birth in February 2002. Light calls the TSA “one of the federal government’s greatest successes of the past half century,” and likens it to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the late 1950s, which was also born amid great public excitement to serve an urgent national need.

Mr. Light cracks me up. First he compares the TSA to the Postal Service (which is insulting to the USPS) and then compares them both to NASA! One agency clogs our mailboxes with junk. The other put a guy on the moon.


The TSA’s day ended before it began. Any agency whose genesis is a panic induced rush to “do something” about security is going to end badly when that panic abates and Americans want to live in America again.

I predict this is only the start of a backlash against many of the irrational changes that took place after 9/11. The more odious provisions of the Patriot Act come to mind. The moronic flight restrictions around Washington DC, too. Even the little things count. British Airways recently announced that it was tossing out the plastic silverware in favor of metal.

Fare thee will, TSA: we wish we’d hardly known ye. Unfortunately, we did.

  3 comments for “Goodbye TSA!

  1. April 9, 2005 at 10:40 am

    What does it mean that its going away? We Always had airport Sercurity, right? The ONLY thing I noticed different after 9/11 than before is that 1) You need a ticket to get to the boarding area and 2) No Tweezers. Thats really it. Oh, and depending on who you are, they make you take off your shoes. but..OTHER than that, its going back to that, right? Or am I COMPLETELY wrong? So when TSA goes, what will come?

  2. Arlen
    May 29, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    Nice post; I don’t fly often but I can draw tweezer-axe logic parallels with my own realm of experience. Can’t we all?

  3. Ryan Ferguson
    June 23, 2005 at 8:49 pm

    Man, I love the way you write. Eloquent, cutting, and RIGHT. Go, Ron, go!

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