The TSA Nightmare: Airport Security

Don't get me wrong: the TSA is not perfect. Yes, the screeners at Newark did miss the knives in the carryon (and yes, they've missed things before); those employees will be getting retraining (and by the way, it was not the TSA's decision to turn the plane around -- that is left up to the discretion of the pilot or airline). But there is no shortage of stories about other outrages -- such as the TSA screeners at Seattle-Tacoma who supposedly "lost" cremated remains -- that the TSA says, simply aren't true.

Meanwhile, the TSA is working on innovations they hope to have in place in the near future to cut down on some of the waiting-in-line time. For example, government techs are working on advanced technology X-ray machines that will eventually allow screeners to identify dangerous explosive materials which could be disguised as everyday liquids like lotions and such. And don't forget -- the TSA has already approved certain laptop bags that are screener-friendly, so laptops can stay in their bags. Time-savers, all.

I know some consider the whole screening process something of a joke -- I mean, just look at some of the comments on the TSA's own blog, which rather bravely makes them available for all to look at -- comments like: "What travelers see is really just a big show to instill confidence, yet little real security is being provided all the while people are being harassed…"

But remember -- the TSA's paramount mission is preventing another 9/11. So far, so good. Yes, I know some argue, it's not anything the TSA is doing -- it's the other safeguards, like reinforced cockpit doors that keep terrorists from trying again.

Maybe so, but the TSA says their mantra is, "not on our watch." And I think most of us are with them as we prove again and again by enduring those screening hassles every time we fly.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.

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