TSA fails undercover tests: Are we safe?

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 at 2:43 PM

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hosted a series of undercover tests on several U.S. airport security checkpoints. The test measured TSA’s screeners, equipment and procedures for competency. The results were staggering; more than half the time, the TSA’s security systems did not effectively work.  

Furthermore, ABC News asked the source if the failure rate was 80 percent, and the response was, “You are in the ballpark.” This issue has even cascaded into a public hearing from the House Committee on Homeland Security where members of Congress called the failures by TSA “disturbing.” Rep. Mike Rogers was reported telling TSA administrator David Pekoske, “This agency that you run is broken badly, and it needs your attention.” 

Although much of the definitive data and information is classified, what has been accurately acknowledged by inspectors includes, “Vulnerabilities with TSA’s screener performance, screening equipment and associated procedures,” along with eight recommendations that have been made to the TSA to improve the quality of checkpoint security, however, these adjustments have not been made known to the public as of now. 

This news, disheartening as it may seem, comes two years after ABC News reported units from the Department of Homeland Security found that the TSA failed 95 percent of the time to stop inspectors from smuggling weapons or explosive materials through proper screening. Thereby, the TSA made major changes to their systems by opening a training academy and redefining procedures. This new report showcases that throughout time the TSA has made vast improvements, yet they still fall short. In yet another public hearing on Nov. 9, on Capitol Hill, members advocated for new screening equipment that creates a 3-D image of bags to improve effectiveness. 

Rep. Bill Keating spoke about the resistance they are currently facing from the White House due to the way in which the money is being diverted from the agency to build President Donald Trump’s border wall. “We have the technology and resources to do it, but we’re not doing it because we’re paying for a wall,” Keating said. Additionally, Viper teams that are specially trained Homeland Security units are being cut from 31 to 8. 

I would assert this issue is more than just about the competency of the TSA in our airports; it represents how a community belief may factor in a mind over matter ideology that reflects a nation. To clarify, Sept. 11, 2001 completely obliterated the U.S. airport culture that existed before this event. Thus, the new thoughts, feelings, and values due to this tragedy forces us, as a nation, to view an airport as a supreme safety issue, therefore, without consult it is. Yet, the notion that the current president is contradicting, this ideal makes us now wonder: is safety in an airport as high of a risk as we believe? 

The accurate response to questioning our airport security systems would be to first acknowledge that there could be danger and or risk to ourselves and others in every day places, such as, the store, a dentist office, or even a park. Secondly, our minds have been undoubtedly shaped by 9/11 and thus influenced policies, practices, and the overall mindset of an airport. This caution was and is currently warranted, yet there is an equilibrium that needs to be reached within this belief to maintain societal fear that accurately represent the data on this subject. 

Furthermore, the more data that showcases how the TSA’s equipment and services have and are failing, the more I question if it is the social construct and image of safety that an airport now displays that leads us to believe our airports are safer. We see screenings, monitoring, equipment, and policies but never even thought to question if it works? 

JoAllie Paluchak can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: voices, opinion

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