Rep. John Mica, the Florida Republican who helped set up the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after 9/11 but has made no secret of his hatred for it, today called the agency "the little bastard child I created."
He said the agency is out of control, has far too many screeners and highly paid bureaucrats. Mica said, "The bad news is I created them after 9/11, the good news is I am now chairman and I will get them." Mica said, as he has before, that he would like to turn over screening to private companies under TSA supervision.
Mica, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, made his remarks during an unvarnished luncheon speech today before the Aero Club of Washington, D.C.
He also said he won't go through a full body scanner at an airport because "I don't want them circulating pictures of my beautiful body" all over. He said he opts for a pat-down, and just "closes his eyes and imagines a beautiful female."
More substantively, Mica said classified briefings he has been given show the failure rate of the body imagers to find potentially-dangerous objects going through airport security is totally unacceptable.
"Imaging technology is a highly effective security tool," replied TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee when contacted by ABC News. "Our adversaries will go to great lengths to do us harm and as a result it is essential that we deploy technologies to airports to mitigate ever-evolving threats. It is a proven technology and we are confident in its detection capability."
"In fact," she said, "advanced imaging technology has led to the detection of more than 200 prohibited, illegal or dangerous items at checkpoints nationwide since January 2010."
Mica said terrorists are looking to everything from body cavities to surgical implants as places to smuggle explosives on planes. "These guys are always one step ahead of us," he said.
Mica also took on the FAA and air traffic controllers. He talked about the controller at Washington's Reagan National Airport who apparently nodded off on the night shift and said, "If you can't stay awake until midnight, something is wrong with you."
After the incident, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood ordered a second controller on the night shift at National.
"The answer isn't just more staffing," Mica said. "If I don't have planes coming in, how many people do I need awake?"
Rep. John Mica Takes on the TSA
Mica said there are plenty of air traffic controllers, that their number has increased even as the number of flights has dropped. "The answer isn't just more staffing. They have plenty of staff, it's just putting them where they need to be."
He summed up, "That's my little take on people who are asleep at the switch."