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U.S. Government Undermining Air and Rail Security

Op-Eds & Articles

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U.S. Government Undermining Air and Rail Security

An alleged terrorist from Nigeria has been charged with plotting to
blow up an airliner. He carried explosives onto a plane and set them on
fire. Only the quick action of passengers put out the fire and
prevented an explosion. He was allowed on the plane despite the fact
that he was on a terror watch list.

Despite this utter
failure, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claims that “the
system worked” because no one died. Her agency is now planning to make
overseas air travel much more onerous, by banning passengers from
getting out of their seats during the last hour of a flight (even
though a passenger who did just that that foiled the terrorist attempt)
and by restricting carry-on luggage and items like blankets on flights.

In
the aftermath of 9/11, Congress shifted airline security screening to
the inept Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which fails to
detect explosive ingredients and fake bombs, in performance tests. A
study found that the TSA is more than twice as likely to fail to detect a bomb as the private security firms it replaced. And TSA’s failure rate is three or four times as high as the few remaining private firms still allowed to handle airline security.

In tests, TSA
failed to detect fake bombs 60 percent of the time at Chicago’s O’Hare
airport, and 75 percent of the time in Los Angeles. Yet the Obama
administration plans to make TSA even more
bureaucratic by introducing collective bargaining, which will make it
even harder to get rid of incompetent employees.

Rather than
having the federal government take over airline security screening, the
feds should have stepped up policing of the private companies that
performed it, to weed out bad companies and promote the best.

Bush
initially objected to Congressional demands for a federal takeover, but
then knuckled under for political reasons. Ironically, even in European
countries governed by Socialist parties, airline security and screening
is generally in the hands of private companies, because private
companies are usually more diligent and innovative and less
bureaucratic and inefficient.

The Obama administration is
also undermining the security of railroad passengers by gutting an
expert, highly-rated, anti-terror agency at Amtrak, which Amtrak’s
unions hate, despite its efficiency, because it is not unionized.
Political cronyism is also playing a role in the gutting of Amtrak’s
Office of Security Strategy and Special Operations (OSSSO). Ultimately,
OSSSO’s “highly-specialized officers” will
likely be replaced by unionized employees with ”alarmingly low pass
rates” in “basic” classes.