Something else that really deserves a place in the "bad" category: the seemingly endless stream of stories about TSA officers who've been accused of and/or convicted of theft, bribery, drug dealing and more at airports like Newark, Ft. Myers, LAX and others. Sure, out of a workforce of 50,000 employees, you could call that "a few bad apples," but I think we'd all welcome more transparency on the agency's hiring process and background checks.
Some think the answer is in privatization; longtime critic Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) does, and Orlando just got the go-ahead to hire private screeners. They must follow the same security procedures as the TSA, and they must do it more cheaply. By the way, Mr. Mica was on TV recently, carping about the TSA "harassing grandmothers and veterans," but as the agency points out, 23 percent of its employees are military veterans.
That may not make much difference to another critic, the aforementioned Rep. Rogers, who derided the TSA during a recent transportation subcommittee hearing as "bloated and inefficient" and has suggested the agency's acronym stood for Thousands Standing Around. TSA administrator John Pistole in turn defended his employee numbers but said efforts will continue to make the agency "more efficient" and reiterated that the TSA is committed to a more risk-based approach to security.
For the record, the TSA does some very good work. Check out their blog sometime to see a list of knives and grenades and other bizarre and dangerous weaponry they've found carefully secreted away in passenger luggage. Then there all those guns: TSA screeners found 30 of them during a single week in May -- and 29 of the guns were loaded.
Finally, if you think the TSA is bad, you should hear some of the criticism of other nations' airport security. The always outspoken Michael O'Leary of Ryanair recently slammed Dublin airport security for some missteps by calling it an "international embarrassment," on a par with "Somalia or Afghanistan."