Calling it “Security Theater”, Kansas Legislators have finally said enough is enough and seem bound and determined to try to put down the TSA. Are their actions overstepping their bounds and trying to encroach on Federal Jurisdiction in Federal Territory or has the federal bureaucracy over-extended its reach, its stay and its welcome here in Kansas? There seem to be a lot of arguments both for and against this plan but what do the facts show?
When you look at it closely, Kansas is not an overly large center for air travel. While there may not be a lot of flights in and out, there are seven airports. Are they secure though? Are these airports any more secure with the TSA in place or would they be able to remain secure without the presence of the TSA? While these questions may seem almost facetious on the surface, in truth, they are questions that need to be answered before any legislation such as this is actively pursued in earnest. The first thing that we have to do is look at the efficiency of the TSA including exactly how well they perform their job and how much it costs.
Some people would argue that there have been no more planes “dropping out of the sky” since 9-11 because the TSA is in place. That is certainly one way to look at it although it does not seem to hold up to a very close inspection. In fact, most of the original members of what has become the TSA today were the very same people who were the Airport Screeners before and during the whole 9-11 scenario. All of the data that is available to date, which admittedly is not very much, indicates that their failure rates remain comparable to what they were before they became omniscient government union employees. Furthermore, to date, they do not have even one recorded success at stopping a terrorist act. The only two instances that we know of have both been stopped by concerned passengers who fortunately kept their eyes open and were not afraid to act when the time came to do so. So maybe the department of homeland security is more concerned with economically viable more than efficient during these tough economic times?
When we look at the eight billion dollar per year price tag, this angle does not seem to hold up any better than their efficiency rating when doing their jobs either. In fact, the price tag for the TSA at the National Level is some eight billion dollars per year. Now when we have deficits approaching the two trillion dollar mark a few billion dollars may not seem like so much. Ask your kids and your grandkids though, as they are the ones who are expected to be paying for this inefficient government organization. Stop and think about this for a moment though; even in a government with trillions of dollars in the annual deficit and tens of trillions of dollars in actual debt and eight billion may seem like a small number but how much better could that money be spent? The federal government does not seem to think quite the same as the people it governs however. Their answer for this inefficient and expensive federal program is not only to keep it but to expand it.
Already, employees of the TSA are being moved into train stations, bus depots and are even being used at conventions and sporting events. These “VIPR” teams are illegally pulling people over on America’s interstates in clear violation of their fourth amendment rights … for random searches under a presumption of guilt. Please note that I did say the employees of the TSA or Transportation Security Administration because these are not now, never have been and do not look to become trained Law Enforcement Officers. Why do we have, want or need inadequately trained employees acting as a civilian law enforcement agency with the freedom to run roughshod over the Constitution and the civil rights and liberties of the American people and of the State of Kansas? What makes all this much worse is the fact that none of these facts were considered and were not the reason for attempting to legislate the actions of the TSA here in Kansas. The reality behind this legislation is much worse.
The entire incident was set off when a four-year old child was traveling through Wichita’s Mid Continent airport when one of the TSA employees was apparently having a very bad hair day. The child’s grandmother had apparently set off the metal detectors and was selected for further screening. (Lots of terrorist acts committed by Gramma you know …said no TSA employee ever) When the child went through, she was already decidedly nervous and ran over to her Grandmother to get a hug. Boy if hugging Gramma is not listed right at the top under the category of High Crimes and Misdemeanors I do not know what is! (Does that sound facetious?) Fearing that Gramma would be passing terrorist secrets to her four-year old granddaughter, the TSA employee began barking orders as if he thought for a moment he actually was a law enforcement agent and from there things started getting ugly. The four year old child was separated from her family which by their own admission goes against TSA policy. Despite the nightmares and by today’s standards, the psychological counseling this child is going to need, this type of behavior is ALMOST as bad as some of the arguments in defense of the TSA and their employees.
According to the TSA they screened some two-hundred and fifty-two million passengers in 2011. By their own admission, only some three percent received “aggressive” pat-downs. That means some seven and one-half million people received these aggressive pat-downs and only some eight-hundred and ninety-eight complaints were received. How many complaints were never heard though? When you look at the numbers, it does not seem too bad but how many frequent fliers do you know that have seen or been through a very negative experience but did not feel comfortable talking about it? How many incidents go unreported? According to records, the TSA employs somewhere between one-hundred and one-hundred and ten people here in Kansas. While apparently the documentation is exceptionally difficult to obtain even with an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Kansas City International Airport showed that from January to May of 2011, there were a total of 30 reports filed against TSA employees … and again, that is just the reported instances where the people actually stayed mad long enough to follow through once they got home or even to their destination vacation.
How many more people “got over it” or found something else to be equally frustrated about during their vacation time and ultimately, just dismissed the experience without ever reporting it to anyone on the record? In what must surely be one of the most outrageous statements by anyone regarding the proposed legislation, Representative Louis Ruiz, a democrat from Kansas City declared it to be a waste of time … but that was not the outrageous part.
“We have law enforcement officers at every level that may abuse their powers. Are we going to make laws for all of them, too?”
First and foremost, though I repeat myself here, the TSA employees are not Law Enforcement Agents. Second … and I have to be nice here … ummmmm HECK YES if these people are volunteering to support and defend the law then they need to be held accountable to the law just the same as the rest of the population is. To do anything else would be unconstitutional as it would not meet the criteria for the “Fair and Balanced under the law” thing we have going on in the Constitution. Then again, that is the exact type of thinking that is so prevalent in Washington DC that we must make our stand here in Kansas.
I may not be able to guarantee your safety during flight travel but I can guarantee you this. If such egregious behavior were to take place with a private screening service, any employee caught stealing or worse yet, terrorizing or even molesting small children as has been recorded far too many times, they would quickly fired and the company would do everything in their power to distance themselves from that employee for fear of lawsuits if nothing else. Private screening agencies can certainly meet the same “safety standards” “achieved” by the TSA having failed so many of their own internal security checks. Private screening firms would also tend to be much more competitively priced especially if they worked on a limited-term contract and had to fight for the right to take your money and mine.
It may be difficult for the state to take up any cause against a federal bureaucracy but it is imperative that the state protect her citizens. This is not going to be as easy as kicking the TSA out of the local airports but it should not be casually dismissed either. When the federal government sends in untrained and unskilled people and gives them the same powers as law enforcement officers and the rights to trample roughshod over the constitution, it is well past time to make a stand. If you believe in personal freedoms and liberties and do not believe that each and every one of us should be dependent on government for all things great and small, please share this article, tell all your friends what they are trying to do in the state legislature and let us put our support behind the politicians so that the politicians can in turn, do their jobs to protect the citizens of Kansas.