Saturday, April 09, 2005

TSA slated for dismantling

White House asks agency's director to step down

By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Updated: 11:32 p.m. ET April 7, 2005

The Transportation Security Administration, once the flagship agency in the nation's $20 billion effort to protect air travelers, is now slated for dismantling.

The latest sign came yesterday when the Bush administration asked David M. Stone, the TSA's director, to step down in June, according to aviation and government sources. Stone is the third top administrator to leave the three-year-old agency, which was swiftly created in the chaos and patriotism following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The TSA absorbed divisions of other agencies such as Federal Aviation Administration only to find itself now the victim of a massive reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security.

The TSA has been plagued by operational missteps, public relations blunders and criticism of its performance from both the public and legislators. Its "No Fly" list has mistakenly snared senators. Its security screeners have been arrested for stealing from luggage, and its passenger pat-downs have set off an outcry from women.


I'm glad to see that Washington has come to the realization that the grand experiment of TSA is a failure. Bush never wanted this program, TSA was created out of a compromise with leading Republicans and Democrats who wanted to set up a dog and pony show that would reassure to public that Civil Aviation was safe again.

Once TSA had been made a reality, the original plan under McGaw called for strong federal oversight, with the TSA having near absolute authority at the nation's airports. But industry lobbyist influences the agency's direction and policies, just as they had with the FAA. The TSA was set up for failure.

With Bush's popularity stagnant, I think he'll move to dismantle a costly and inefficient agency that he never wanted in the first place. Granted he's a lame duck president, but he wants his administration to end on a high note, to set up his party for what will be a bitter 2008 election campaign.

What does it say of an agency that gives it's Public Relations a larger budget than Compliance?

The question is, where does this leave my division and me?


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