The TSA’s 95 Percent Failure Rate: Security Theater as Farce – National Review


When he lamented the crimes of socialism in arms, George Orwell received the usual rejoinder, that one has to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Orwell, who was unique among the literary men of his generation, had the insight to ask the necessary question: “Where’s the omelet?”

We might ask the same thing regarding the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA, and the inconvenience, financial losses, and personal degradation associated with TSA procedures, is necessary to keep us safe, or so we are told, e.g., “Heightened TSA Security Is Necessary to Keep Us Safe” is a headline in a U.S. News and World Report over a column written by a former TSA official, Jeff Sural, who wrote:

Regardless of recent, widely publicized attacks and thwarted plots, some Americans continue to question TSA security initiatives. Our narcissistic obsession with someone viewing or getting too close to our “junk” and anecdotes of pat-downs gone bad have diverted our attention from the seriousness of this reality.

What role did the TSA have in those “thwarted plots”? None, if we are talking about 9/11-style terror attacks. In 2012, TSA global strategies chief John Halinski was asked directly whether there had been a single arrest or detention on terrorism charges creditable to the implementation of whole-body scanners. He answered that there was not. A 2010 Government Accountability (ho, ho!) Office report found that the TSA’s $200 million “SPOT” program — a behavioral-detection system involving 3,000 officers trained to detect terrorists — detected no terrorists, and that it in fact failed to detect at least 16 people later involved in terrorism cases even as they traveled through the very U.S. airports that the program was policing.

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