The TSA is woefully incompetent, wasteful and unnecessary. Yes, they manage to thwart the evil machinations of almost all eighteen-month-old toddlers, but there is an extremely high price to pay for this level “security”.

And it’s not that I have some grudge against the TSA; the House Oversight Committee titled their report on the TSA, “Airport Insecurity: TSA’s Failure to Cost-Effectively Procure, Deploy and Warehouse Its Screening Technologies”.   TechDirt has highlights from the report, including these tidbits:

  • As of February 15, 2012, the total value of TSA’s equipment in storage was, according to TSA officials, estimated at $184 million. However, when questioned by Committee staff, TSA’s warehouse staff and procurement officials were unable to provide the total value of equipment in storage.
  • Committee staff discovered that 85% of the approximately 5,700 major transportation security equipment currently warehoused at the TLC had been stored for longer than six months; 35% of the equipment had been stored for more than one year. One piece of equipment had been in storage more than six years – 60% of its useful life.
  • As of February 2012, Committee staff discovered that TSA had 472 Advanced Technology 2 (AT2) carry-on baggage screening machines at the TLC and that more than 99% have remained in storage for more than nine months; 34% of AT2s have been stored for longer than one year.

But wait, anyone can misplace or forget about $184 million worth of equipment, right? We’ve all done that once in our lives. I’m glad there’s no oversight committee for my car keys, y’know what I’m sayin’? It’s not like the TSA was intentionally trying to cover this up, right?

Well… actually they were. More from the report:

  • TSA intentionally delayed Congressional oversight of the Transportation Logistics Center and provided inaccurate, incomplete, and potentially misleading information to Congress in order to conceal the agency’s continued mismanagement of warehouse operations.
  • TSA willfully delayed Congressional oversight of the agency’s Transportation Logistics Center twice in a failed attempt to hide the disposal of approximately 1,300 pieces of screening equipment from its warehouses in Dallas, Texas, prior to the arrival of Congressional staff.
  • TSA potentially violated 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001, by knowingly providing an inaccurate warehouse inventory report to Congressional staff that accounted for the disposal of equipment that was still in storage at the TLC during a site visit by Congressional staff.

So, the TSA has been proven to waste 100s of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to ineffectively screen and in some cases harass passengers, and their babies (different story from the toddler above), to instill a false sense of security.

Don’t get me wrong, they are really, really good at not letting random people who are too witless to remember they have loaded guns or live turtles in their luggage. And racially profiling. They just don’t protect against terrorist attacks.

Thankfully, we live in a country where civil rights are respected and representatives of a government agency would never take revenge against a citizen’s thoughtful, well-intentioned criticism. So, I’m not afraid to say that the TSA should be abolished. We could go back to having regulated, private security firms handle screenings at airports, saving passengers and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and probably making us all a bit safer.