Letting Our Guard Down

Are authorities at the Transportation Security Administration just being practical, or are we slowly losing our memory of 9/11? 

WaPo: TSA Would Allow Sharp Objects on Airliners

A new plan by the Transportation Security Administration would allow airline passengers to bring scissors and other sharp objects in their carry-on bags because the items no longer pose the greatest threat to airline security, according to sources familiar with the plans.

In a series of briefings this week, TSA Director Edmund S. “Kip” Hawley told aviation industry leaders that he plans to announce changes at airport security checkpoints that would allow scissors less than four inches long and tools, such as screwdrivers, less than seven inches long, according to people familiar with the TSA’s plans. These people spoke on condition of anonymity because the TSA intends to make the plans public Friday.

Faced with a tighter budget and morale problems among its workforce, the TSA says its new policy changes are aimed at making the best use of limited resources.

That last paragraph sends a chill down my spine. The TSA workforce has a job every bit as important as the one being done by our men and women in uniform abroad. When you meet a U.S. Marine, on duty or off, you’ll quickly notice a sense of patriotic pride, job dedication and appreciation for ‘the corps’ that influences their every action and utterance. Conversely, it seems as though the average TSA agent at any airport in the U.S. has just as much pride in the position they hold as does the teenager who works for the local 7–11 store. I believe this adversely affects the attitude of air travelers, who become increasingly annoyed with the process of entering secure zones at an airport. Couple this with the fact that a large percentage of travelers fly less than once a year and are unfamiliar with way security lines work. Most don’t remember to remove items from pockets or take their shoes off when walking through metal detectors. These ignorant mistakes collide head-on with fumbling pat-down search procedures by less than excited TSA agents who have their own unique communication problems. Ultimately tempers rise, altercations occur and our security suffers.

Instead of loosening security requirements to improve worker morale, the TSA should recruit and train better people. Incentives should be provided for those who join the TSA, in the same way that U.S. Servicemen and women receive college tuition. In return, TSA workers commit to a ‘tour’ of duty, and should be required to pass regular service benchmarks if they are to grow in rank, increase their compensation, or receive additional benefits once they leave the agency. If we treat the TSA the same way we treat any one of our other armed services, the dedication and commitment to keeping our homeland safe and secure will increase, and we’ll all be safer as a result.

After all, isn’t it important to do anything and everything we can to prevent a repeat of 9/11?

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