The TSA is finding itself under increasing scrutiny.
When not even a Sikh diplomat was spared from the demand to remove his turban at a US airport, the SGPC (the Sikhs’ representative body that manages Sikh shrines in India) held a demonstration outside the US Embassy in New Delhi to protest to the alleged targeting of Sikh turbans by the TSA.
However, the TSA is receiving heat not just from abroad, but also from home.
A Sacramento-area commercial airline pilot has blown the whistle on the TSA, publishing YouTube videos showing how easily airport ground crews were able to access airplanes without having to pass through security checkpoints like those that pilots, air crew and passengers must do.
A former spokesman for the SFO posits the security issue:
“A mechanic can come from home with his toolbox and roll it through the terminal, dressed in his uniform that signifies the airline, go up to the security door, scan his ID, drag his toolbox through the security door and he immediately has access to the airfield,” Wilson said. “Who knows what might be in that toolbox.”
While Sikh and other passengers have their rights infringed upon by the TSA and are being subjected to humiliating searches and questionable body scans, we are left to wonder how effective the TSA actually is, especially because the TSA’s record is kept secret:
Experts say every year since the September 11 attacks, federal agencies have conducted random, covert tests of airport security. A person briefed on the latest tests tells ABC News the failure rate approaches 70 percent at some major airports. Two weeks ago, TSA’s new director said every test gun, bomb part or knife got past screeners at some airports.
When we are finding out how porous security procedures are, it’s also important to keep in mind that the TSA spends hundreds of millions of dollars on security technology, such as the AIT scanners, which have questions about their effectiveness. They are purchased and installed anyway, thanks in some part to the significant and intimate lobbying by manufacturers to sell these to the TSA.
For leaking these videos to the public, the TSA initiated an investigation of the pilot and sent federal agents to his home to confiscate his firearm and badge. The pilot resigned as a Federal Flight Deck Officer, and a US Congressman is now calling on the TSA to cease its harrassment of the pilot:
“Rather than going out and fixing the problem, they’re going out and harassing the person that brought it to their attention,” said Congressman Peter Hoekstra, a Republican from Michigan.
At the request of his airline, the pilot pulled the videos from YouTube, but he remains unrepentant about posting the videos because he believes more light needs to be shed on airport security:
“As you can see, airport security is kind of a farce. It’s only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here,” the pilot narrates.
Where there is smoke, there is fire. Are the TSA’s activities purely the interests of airline security, or is something else really going on here?