Never an agency that does much to clear its bad name and terrible reputation for hiring some of the worst dregs of society, all the while failing regularly to live up to its purpose for existing, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is receiving fresh criticism from a Tennessee congresswoman over its hiring of pedophiles and child pornographers.
In an extremely critical report released in early June, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn listed 50 crimes that have been committed by TSA agents, including two who worked at the Nashville International Airport. She said a better screening process should be implemented immediately, to keep such criminals out of the ranks.
"TSA needs to immediately remove themselves from the human resource business. This report details highly disturbing cases where pedophiles and child pornographers wearing federal law enforcement uniforms are not only patting down unsuspecting travelers, but in many cases stealing valuables from their bags," she said. "Enough is enough. It's time for Congress to step in and demand accountability from Administrator (John) Pistole."
TSA agents have a history of criminality
The TSA was created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to place airport security in federal hands. Private firms that handled airport security before the attacks were blamed for not doing enough to screen passengers for weapons and other harmful materials, though clearly the Sept. 11 attacks were meticulously planned - and, federal intelligence officials can certainly share some of the blame for failing to identify the plot and the terrorists who carried it out.
In her report Not on my Watch": 50 Failures of TSA's Transportation Security Officers released May 30, Blackburn says TSA agents perform as law enforcement personnel but have very little training and are not vetted as well as police departments screen their potential officers.
The goal, she said, is to get the TSA out of the law-enforcement role and back to their original mandate: airport security (though the agency has had trouble fulfilling that mission too).
She says the report emphasizes how the agency "needs to immediately remove themselves from the human resource business," saying the decision to give TSA agents law enforcement-style uniforms was a crucial mistake.
"TSOs and BDOs have zero federal law enforcement training despite their federal law enforcement titles, uniforms and metal badges. In many cases, TSOs and BDOs have less training than security guards in most states," says the report.
"For example, in California, security guards may receive permits to carry firearms, tear gas and batons," the report continues. "Due to their lack of training and abuse of power, TSOs and BDOs should return to the previous title and uniforms that were in use prior to the TSA administrative reclassification in 2005."
Legitimizing criminal behavior
The fact that so many TSA agents are either criminals past or become criminals is no surprise, Blackburn says, but rather comes "from TSA's hiring practices and insufficient use of background checks."
Identifying itself as an "intelligent risk-based organization," Blackburn said the agency resorts to advertising on pizza boxes and above pumps at gas stations to recruit officers.
It's bad enough that TSA agents routinely strip-search elderly women with colostomy bags, feel up young girls and diaper-wearing babies, and target attractive females for multiple naked-body scans. But what makes the agency worse are the number of criminal records held by its agents.
How bad is it? In one case reported by PrisonPlanet.com, a spoof TSA applicant called the agency, pretending to be interested in a job as a screener so he could act out his sexual fantasies (you know, feeling up the female passengers during "searches"). He even asked if he could fondle breasts.
He was treated seriously by the TSA official on the other end of the line. What was the official's response to what otherwise, in any other-normal-job application process, would have been an outrageous request?
"If that is what is required by your job position - yes."
Enough said. Rep. Blackburn is spot-on with her report and recommendations.