Merry Christmas, travelers! Today’s news comes to you courtesy of the Transportation “Safety” Administration. In addition to refusing to “profile” certain people and strip-searching your grandmother for explosives, the TSA wants you to know that they are going to give you the best flying experience possible. To that end, they are working hard to cut your time waiting in line to be checked for guns and other things that could impact your flight.
And if that makes flying less safe, it’s a small price to pay in order to speed you on your way, right?
A whistleblower from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says airports in the US are becoming unsafe as security measures are weakened so lines can move more quickly.
Jay Brainard, the highest-ranking member with the agency in Kansas, told CNN in an exclusive that this is putting travelers and flight crews at risk of a possible terrorist attack.
Some of the alleged relaxed measures include officials reducing metal detector sensitivity, turning off technology on X-ray machines and keeping baggage belts moving when they should be stopped.
Brainard has a conscience. He couldn’t live with himself if an attack occurred and it was due to a relaxation of some of these security measures.
He says he’s made his concerns known to the top brass at the TSA and to external federal regulators, but that little to nothing is being done.
According to the Los Angeles Times, wait times have improved, remaining the same even as the number of travelers passing through airports increases.
The TSA says this is due to more screeners and a spike in the number of passengers using expedited PreCheck, from two million in 2016 to nine million today.
But CNN reports that Brainard claims the improved wait times are due to officers not screening as efficiently.
You tell me if these procedures make us more or less safe?
He alleges that the metal detectors passengers walk through are on a setting of reduced sensitivity.
Brainard told CNN that this means agents could miss weapons, bomb parts and others [sic] items that seem suspect.
He also claims that the baggage X-ray belts have been ordered to always be moving in the PreCheck lines, meaning workers cannot stop to examine items.
Additionally, technology on X-ray machines in PreCheck that indicates suspicious items has been turned off, meaning it’s up to the job of the agent to spot these potential threats.
TSA chief David Pekoske denied Brainard’s clams — but disputed them by pointing to his confirmation testimony rather than answering the complaints directly.
‘If you go back and you look at my testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee – my confirmation – so back in June of 2017, one of the first things I said is that security is the most important thing for TSA,’ he told CNN.
No one cares what you said in 2017, Mr. Potato Head. What about the metal detectors and x-ray machines?
I am not flying this Christmas. For various reasons unrelated to safety, I may never fly again. But I do not envy those of you who are rolling the dice and praying that the bored, overworked federal worker handicapped by a bureaucracy that deliberately sabotages the technology that can keep you safe doesn’t miss something going through the line.