Millions Spent by TSA; Nothing to Show for it

Should the government be doing this at all?

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The Transportation Safety Authority has a bit of a problem.  You see, they spent $160 million on body scanners…and still can’t seem to find minor annoyances like bombs, guns, and other little things like that.

In fairness, $40 million of that was on the so-called porno scanners that permitted TSA agents to see everyone’s business that were eventually replaced when the American public finally convinced officials that there were other ways to find weapons.

From the Free Beacon:

The Transportation Security Administration spent $160 million on body scanners that have largely failed to detect airport security threats.

Politico reported that the government agency paid $120 million for the body scanners currently in place at airport checkpoints across the country in addition to another $40 million on the “naked” X-ray scanners removed from airports two years ago amid health and privacy concerns.

The TSA, which recently disclosed the costs to members of Congress probing the agency, on average spent over $150,000 per unit of body imaging technology since it first began purchasing the scanners in 2008.

The acting TSA head was reassigned in June after a security audit revealed that the agency’s devices failed to detect fake weapons and explosives 96 percent of the time in secret tests.

Members of Congress from both parties who have been probing the government agency are concerned with the costly but largely insufficient TSA body imaging equipment.

Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) said that the scanners are so unsuccessful–“These things weren’t even catching metal,” he warned–that they should be preceded by metal detectors.

“If you really want to keep using those, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t, at a minimum we should put a metal detector on the other side,” Johnson said. “Why not go through two? You’ve just gotta use common sense.”

Ranking member of House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.) described himself as “troubled about their capability to detect and prevent dangerous materials from passing through security checkpoints.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.), the ranking member of Senate Homeland Security Committee, suggested that the agency might be better trying to find ways beyond technology to overhaul its security measures.

Another question the committee might want to ask is whether the government should be doing this at all.  Airports could easily contract with outside firms, with standards being set before hand.  Private industry tends to be far better and innovation than the government after all, so why not let them figure out how to provide this same service for a lower cost?

Photo Credit: Gaetan Lee


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  1. ThomasW Reply

    While privatizing the TSA might be more effective, this is one area I think we should definitely leave in government hands.

    Remember back before the TSA. The media was all over private airport screeners, relating how they were poorly paid, high turnover and security risks. Some gave private screening as a reason for 9/11.

    When (not if, unfortunately) another aircraft based terrorist incident occurs, if screening has been privatized there will be a ready made scapegoat (it was those horrible privatization people who took away the effective TSA). The TSA is using some private contractors today. I’m wary that they’ll be blamed for any future incidents.

    Leave screening with the TSA. If we never have another terrorist attack, great. If we do, they won’t be able to blame greedy capitalists.

    1. Kimadmin Reply

      Interesting. Thanks ThomasW