Today, The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is holding a joint hearing with the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the TSA. Live-stream, here.
The work of our two Committees has documented a recurring pattern of mismanagement and waste at the Transportation Security Administration. Add to this an unending string of video clips, photographs and news reports about inappropriate, clumsy and even illogical searches and screenings by TSA agents. Americans are right to demand answers from TSA about the return on investment of their tax dollars.
Monday’s joint Committee hearing represents yet another opportunity for TSA to try to explain why Americans are subjected to procedures that sometimes appear to defy logic and why the agency continues on a security system procurement binge. The committee will be asking questions about the effectiveness of five major security initiatives that together represent billions dollars of government spending. Understanding the cost for security programs as well as their benefits will help address the question: is it security theater or effective security.
I’ve been doing a slow burn since the invasive screening policies were enacted. I’m glad Republicans are finally looking at this, and asking Americans to tell their horror stories.
On Facebook, Oversight has been running a social media campaign for taxpayers to submit their “TSA Experiences” for Oversight members to ask the TSA bosses about.
Here are some of the submissions:
Michael Raymond Burns: Could you please explain TSA’s ridiculous policy in regard to this: As the Chalk Leader for my flight home from Afghanistan, I witnessed the following:
When we were on our way back from Afghanistan, we flew out of Baghram Air Field. We went through customs at BAF, full body scanners (no groping), had all of our bags searched, the whole nine yards. Our first stop was Shannon, Ireland to refuel. After that, we had to stop at Indianapolis, Indiana to drop off about 100 folks from the Indiana National Guard. That’s where the stupid started.
First, everyone was forced to get off the plane-even though the plane wasn’t refueling again. All 330 people got off that plane, rather than let the 100 people from the ING get off. We were filed from the plane to a holding area. No vending machines, no means of escape. Only a male/female latrine.
It’s probably important to mention that we were ALL carrying weapons. Everyone was carrying an M4 Carbine (rifle) and some, like me, were also carrying an M9 pistol. Oh, and our gunners had M-240B machine guns. Of course, the weapons weren’t loaded. And we had been cleared of all ammo well before we even got to customs at Baghram, then AGAIN at customs.
The TSA personnel at the airport seriously considered making us unload all of the baggage from the SECURE cargo hold to have it re-inspected. Keep in mind, this cargo had been unpacked, inspected piece by piece by U.S. Customs officials, resealed and had bomb-sniffing dogs give it a one-hour run through. After two hours of sitting in this holding area, the TSA decided not to re-inspect our Cargo-just to inspect us again: Soldiers on the way home from war, who had already been inspected, re-inspected and kept in a SECURE holding area for 2 hours. Ok, whatever. So we lined up to go through security AGAIN.
This is probably another good time to remind you all that all of us were carrying actual assault rifles, and some of us were also carrying pistols.
So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers.
The conversation went something like this:
TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.
Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.
TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.
TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.
Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.
TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.
Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?
TSA Guy: [awkward silence]
Me: Dude, just give him your F**K**G nail clippers so we can get the F**K out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.
Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]
To top it off, the TSA demanded we all be swabbed for “explosive residue” detection. Everyone failed, [go figure, we just came home from a war zone], because we tested positive for “Gun Powder Residue”. Who the Hell is hiring these people?
This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns-but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.
Can someone please tell me What the hell happened to OUR country while we were gone?
Sgt. Mad Dog Tracy
Maggi Cook :#TSA – traveling from Dayton OH to Seattle TSA tried to direct my 3&5 yr old children to separate line, as I was selected for a more thorough screening; traveling from Seattle back to Dayton Sea-Tac TSA demanded that my son, active duty Sgt 3-days from depolyment, under go full screening – including confiscating a small piece of required equipment in his pocket – in order for him to accompany his children to gate. My son was in uniform at that time – I mean SERIOUSLY.
Lisa Carley Dale Nashville Airport BNA, a few months ago…I agreed to go thru the “nudey scan” as I like to call it, and they still groped my breasts and back area. I’m a size 4, so I cannot begin to fathom what they THOUGHT I was trying to conceal. Since I’m going to be groped either way, I’m no longer going through the “nudey scan” anymore.
Edward Gibson I no longer travel because of TSA intrusions.
Roland Murphy 2 years ago I had a 0530 flight out of Detroit coming back to Phoenix. I was detained for “enhanced screening”. My laptop, all my papers and every item on my person were reviewed by the two dimwits handling my “interrogation,” as they referred to it. They questioned the fact that I had my water bill in my bag and that the account was in my wife’s name, rather than mine, why I was carrying a passport if I wasn’t traveling out of the country, why I used a car service rather than renting a car, etc. etc. I have to say the review of everything in my laptop bag and question after question after question felt even more invasive than the overly enthusiastic pat down that preceded the grilling.
Bill C. Tudor I refuse to fly AT ALL as long as the corrupt TSA is in airports harrassing American citizens and wasting my hard earned tax dollars.
During Oversight’s joint TSA hearing with the Transportation Committee, Chairman Darrell Issa highlighted four stories submitted to the committee on its Facebook page.
There were close to 350 individual submissions and all will be placed into the record.