Libertarian Views on TSA Incompetence

From a representative editorial presenting Libertarian Party beliefs, explaining libertarian views on the subject. The application of libertarian philosophy expressed by the party or others may or may not universally represent libertarian beliefs on the topic for all adherents.

The TSA (Théâtre de Sécurité Américain Transportation Security Administration) has been generally accused of incompetence, failure to detect bombs smuggled in luggage, and of making flying even more miserable than it would be otherwise. Far from fighting back against such hassle — particularly in the face of 16 years of demonstrated proof the organization is incompetent — the TSA has seemingly embraced it. The organization has announced that it will now begin screening all devices larger than a cell phone on all flights, foreign and domestic. The exact text reads:

To ensure the security of airline passengers and the nation’s airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing new, stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes… As new procedures are phased in, TSA officers will begin to ask travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for years. This simple step helps TSA officers obtain a clearer X-ray image.

The TSA notes that it has already tested the program in 10 airports, and will now roll it out nationally. But the new check doesn’t apply to TSA Pre, which means for the price of your fingerprints and $85 per year, you can still opt out of America’s draconian airport security procedures. That’s a loophole large enough to fly a plane through, unless you actually believe that the NSA and FBI are capable of catching every would-be terrorist on Earth.

But more to the point, in all the years of the TSA’s existence, there’s been no evidence that passengers are materially safer for its efforts. There have, however, been thousands of complaints of inappropriate behavior (3,408 in 2012 alone). There’s also been a Government Accountability Office report stating the TSA’s SPOT program, meant to train TSA employees to spot the tells of would-be terrorist, is completely ineffective.

In addition, there have been accusations of gross inventory mismanagement, fraud, abuse, illegal gambling, and theft; testimony from a previous employee that TSA agents regularly joked about passenger’s breast and penis size, weight, and physical attractiveness; and that TSA employees would use the code word “Hotel Papa” to alert fellow workers that an attractive flyer was passing through the line, so they could view the nude imagery. The TSA did not deny these accusations.

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