Hurry up to wait……and wait……and wait. That has been the slogan from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) over the last few weeks as videos showing screening lines stretching for miles throughout airports in Atlanta, Chicago, and New York (among others) have gone viral. The trade group Airlines for America has expressed concern that, as the peak summer travel season approaches, the growing number of travelers will cause even longer screening lines at America’s airports.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has cited a drop in personnel levels, due to budget cuts enacted by Congress, as the main cause of the long lines (even as the agency, to add insult to injury, has pocketed over $700,000 in loose change from travelers at airports across the country, wasted nearly $1.4 million on an app that randomly displays an arrow directing passengers to the fastest route through screening lines, and another $3 million on explosive-detecting “puffer machines” that never worked).
The union representing TSA employees has called for the hiring of an additional 6,000 airport screeners to reduce wait times. “These additional TSOs [Transportation Security Officers] will at least begin to address the shortage of TSOs needed to reduce the delays passengers are facing in airports across the country,” AFGE (American Federation of Government Employees) national President J. David Cox Sr. said.
Congress, in response to pressure from Secretary Johnson and TSA officials, has agreed to allocate an additional $34 million to hire 768 more screeners and to pay for more overtime for existing employees.
The TSA, seeking to calm public anger over the their incompetence, has brought in entertainers to distract the crowds waiting for several hours to reach screening. “Musicians in Atlanta, miniature horses in Cincinnati, ‘therapy dogs’ at scattered other hubs and, yes, clowns in San Diego,” have been brought in, according to the New York Post.
Homeland Security Secretary Johnson and the bureaucratic machine at the TSA are using the American people as pawns, holding travelers hostage in long lines and disrupting travel plans in order to squeeze more funding from Congress (and by extension, the American people). By threatening longer lines if no additional funding is allocated, the TSA is, for all intents and purposes, committing extortion.
Far worse is the knowledge that the TSA is nothing more than security theater, as well as a means to acclimate the American people to being herded into lines, grouped, and treated like pieces of garbage. TSA screeners have routinely failed tests in which undercover DHS agents (codenamed “Red Teams”) attempted to smuggle explosives and weapons through airport screening.
The fact that the American people must consent to being grouped by TSA screeners, who have stopped as many terrorist attacks as I personally have (zero), while our Southern border is wide open is completely ridiculous. Witnessing TSA agents pat down children, the elderly, and people with disabilities because they may be terrorists, while thousands of illegal immigrants pour across the border and are released with little, if any, vetting process is disgusting.
After 9/11, President Bush authorized the establishment of the TSA, exploiting the American people’s grief over the attack, as well as our fear of additional attacks, to justify the agency’s creation. The attacks on 9/11 have since been used to justify the continued erosion of our civil liberties as a massive surveillance/police state grows around us. History has taught us that people who willingly surrender some of their civil liberties because their government tells them they must in order to remain safe eventually lose them all.