Monday, April 16, 2012

The TSA......But don't get me started!

     This is an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal by the former head of the TSA, Kip Hawley.  I am reluctant to write about the TSA and risk making myself a target every time I have to go through security.  BUT....I do have strong feelings about this well-meaning but flawed government bureaucracy.  

Why Airport Security Is Broken— And How To Fix It 
Air travel would be safer if we allowed knives, lighters and liquids and focused on disrupting new terror plots. A former head of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Hawley, on embracing risk.

     As I mentioned in a previous post ( Wednesday, March 28, 2012  "We Are the MOST Scrutinized Profession in the World, and NO, I am not Crazy") we as air line pilots are the most scrutinized profession in the entire world, yet we are subjected to security inspections as we go to our jobs of being responsible for the safety and the lives of hundreds of people.  Only recently, ten plus years after 9-11, are there now a few select locations where working airline pilots can now simply be verified via a data base and allowed to by pass security.  This came only after years of lobbying and cajoling by Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).   
     When the TSA was proposed after 9-11 as part of the Homeland Security Act, I cringed.  I knew what would happen and how this would turn into a huge government jobs program entrenched in a bureaucratic morass.  MR Hawley mentions the TSA's inability to adapt and change.  This is the inherent problem with any large organization, especially government. 
     I have nothing against the individuals of the TSA, most of them are very nice and professional.  The fact that I am subjected to security screening as I go to perform my job, is still an insult to me.  I have a badge, I have had my background checked.  More is known about me than most of the people in the airport.  My home base issued my badge and did my background screening, yet that somehow is not good enough for the airport at "Anywhere Else, USA."   
     I agree with many of MR Hawley's points in his article.  He doesn't address airline crew members.  The problem is that we are lumped into the general flying public, which we are not.  I can understand the remote possibility of an "imposter" obtaining a uniform and attempting to get   into a secured area.  That is why I applaud the checks now in place at select airports that verify our employment through a data base.  
     I firmly believe that we should be looking for terrorists, not weapons.  Terrorists are very adaptable.  They know what to expect and the unexpected is what we need to be doing to prevent them from harming us