Good evening, I’m Alistair Crooke. Welcome to Security Theater. Tonight’s episode follows on the 96% failure rate of the TSA in security tests this summer.
Throughout this year, I have testified — before this Committee and others — regarding my concerns about TSA’s ability to execute its important mission.
While I cannot talk about the specifics in this setting, I am able to say that we conducted the audit with sufficient rigor to satisfy the standards contained within the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, that the tests were conducted by auditors within our Office of Audits without any special knowledge or training, and that the test results were disappointing and troubling. We ran multiple tests at eight different airports of different sizes, including large category X airports across the country, and tested airports using private screeners as part of the Screening Partnership Program. The results were consistent across every airport.
Our testing was designed to test checkpoint operations in real world conditions. It was not designed to test specific, discrete segments of checkpoint operations, but rather the system as a whole. The failures included failures in the technology, failures in TSA procedures, and human error. We found layers of security simply missing. It would be misleading to minimize the rigor of our testing, or to imply that our testing was not an accurate reflection of the effectiveness of the totality of aviation security.
As I highlighted, they used people who had no clue how to fool the TSA, yet still “the test results were disappointing and troubling”.
If you don’t remember how bad it was:
My remarks were described as “unusually blunt testimony from a government witness,” and I will confess that it was. However, those remarks were born of frustration that TSA was assessing risk inappropriately and did not have the ability to perform basic management functions in order to meet the mission the American people expect of it. These issues were exacerbated, in my judgment, by a culture, developed over time, which resisted oversight and was unwilling to accept the need for change in the face of an evolving and serious threat. We have been writing reports highlighting some of these problems for years without an acknowledgment by TSA of the need to correct its deficiencies.
“[A] culture, developed over time, which resisted oversight and was unwilling to accept the need for change in the face of an evolving and serious threat”? The TSA has been in existence only since early 2002! What time? What culture? It was founded in response to the most “serious threats” imaginable—how could it “resist” or be “unwilling to accept” anything? It sounds like it exists only to be a bureaucracy. You will not be surprised to learn that they are unionized.
The Inspector General assures us that the new TSA is more responsive and forward-thinking. It could not be less so. But short of treating them like Reagan treated the air traffic controllers, I see nothing changing. Bureaucracies and unions protect themselves, not vulnerable travelers.
And ISIS is planting bombs now.