March 17, 2006
The Buck Stops at the Bottom in the TSA
MSNBC headlines its report that federal investigators recently passed homemade bombmaking materials through checkpoints at 21 US airports, "Airline screeners fail government bomb tests":
In all 21 airports tested, no machine, no swab, no screener anywhere stopped the bomb materials from getting through. Even when investigators deliberately triggered extra screening of bags, no one discovered the materials.Because they were leaking information from a classified report, NBC said they would not publish what materials were used, but they presumably were easily obtainable ingredients.
The Transportation Security Administration responded with a statement to NBC [emphasis added]:
The Transportation Security Administration would not comment on the tests, but issued a statement to NBC News, saying "detecting explosive materials and IEDs at the checkpoint is TSA's top priority." The agency also said screeners are now receiving added training to help identify these materials.This is typical of TSA management, to blame the frontline folks whenever a negative story hits the news. But this one doesn't wash, because TSA screeners do not have a say in what materials their Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) equipment is calibrated to detect. As TSA "command personnel" might smugly note, that decision is above their paygrade, thus, those command personnel have no business issuing a statement implying that the failures were the result of inadequate training.
While no one expects empty-suit MSM reporters like Lisa Myers to have an understanding of what they're reporting, it isn't too much to ask of TSA executives that they have a basic clue about the information they're passing out in a press statement. It's inexcusable for them to be passing the buck down the line to the screeners.
There are too many useless drones, who have never worn a TSA uniform and are not certified to perform even the most menial checkpoint task, spending their days figuring out how to pass the buck and finagle a larger office, and expand the number of their subordinates. Some regional airports have one administrative or supervisory employee for each three screeners, a ridiculously top-heavy hierarchy bloated by blatant cronyism and bureaucratic maneuvering. Blaming the screeners, who willingly act as human bomb detectors when an ETD indicates that there might be explosives around, is shameful.