The TSA has a record of failure so blatant that only a seasoned Washington insider could ignore it. No doubt, there’s plenty of theft and a surfeit of unimaginative sexual assault. Yet, aside from what may be explained by perversion and greed, a lot of what happens at airport security recalls a bad Keystone Kops episode. Let’s, for a moment, step away from they reasons why the entire model the agency uses doesn’t work for securing anything and ask why the rank-and-file TSOs regularly display such disastrously poor judgment.
Case in point: the same week that America’s supposed protectors strip searched a terminally ill 95 year old woman, a man flew coast to coast with both his ticket and his ID forged. Even though it was known he’d boarded the plane illegally long before the flight landed, he still just strolled out of the airport.
Lately, if you mention this or any other wincingly stupid TSA misstep, you’re apt to be regaled with similar tales from everyone else at the table. The gaffes are happening faster than they can be covered. What’s the official stance? TSA Administrator John Pistole, when he can be bothered to show up for Congressional hearings, purrs about his top-notch professionals and insists they display only the highest sense of judgment. He’s either a complete liar or a complete idiot. Naturally, he runs a federal agency.
I will put forward this theory: what TSOs are asked to do wildly exceeds their experience and ability. They aren’t bad people or lesser people because they’ve, by and large, got no common sense. We all have our moral worth and our dignity, regardless of our skills – something that TSA would do well to meditate on. However, it’s never a good idea to give people jobs that they are fundamentally unequal to.
Simply, the position, by its nature, doesn’t attract people who have the skills to perform it well. The ‘skills’ in question are a certain level of discretion and judgment.
Could we teach a modicum of sense to these workers? Maybe. Is that going to be a cost-effective solution? Hardly. For one thing, good judgment comes from exercising bad judgment and then facing the consequences. What are the consequences for a TSO who demonstrates astonishingly poor judgment? John Pistole will lie to Darrell Issa (again). Janet Napolitano will recommend extending the entire farce to trains and buses. The TSA’s resident scribbling idiot, “Blogger Bob”, will insist all protocols were followed. At worst, TSOs who have committed jailable offenses are ‘retrained’.
The front line TSOs, with their grimy blue gloves, realistically don’t face repercussions for screwing up. On one hand, we’re asked to believe these are seasoned professionals making spot-on judgment calls and that the fault lies with us and our petty hang-ups about privacy and dignity. The next second, we’re told we can’t blame some ludicrously dense shift-worker because he acted within guidelines and followed rules. Which is it? Are these whip-smart experts who should reasonably be expected to answer for messing up or poorly supervised dolts from whom we can hardly demand consistent professionalism?
If the former is true, where are the repercussions? If the latter, why are inept people being given such free reign? Ideas on that await another post.
Praise for PPC From Our Lefty "Fan"
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- PPC Training for Activists
UPDATE: Something apparently got messed up with the PayPal buttons during this past weekend’s database glitch – fixed now. Yes, it’s that time again — PPC will be conducting training classes for center-right activists on Saturday, April 20 and Saturday, April 27, at Independence Institute in Denver. The tentative class schedule is as follows: Saturday, [...]
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