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"Commentary: Airport Security Privatization Unlikely to Pass Despite Cost Effectiveness"
Monday, June 6, 2011
Airport Security Privatization Unlikely to Pass Despite Cost Effectiveness
Congressional Report: $1 Billion Over Five Years Saved by Taking Airport
By Mark Whittington
Yahoo! Contributor Network
The Transportation Security Administration, which has already been embroiled
in controversy for the "enhanced pat downs," which some people consider
sexual assaults, on airline passengers, has caused a dispute with Congress
over the Screening Partnership Program.
The TSA cancelled the Screening Partnership Program, which allowed airports
to employ private security screeners instead of TSA agents at airport check
in lines. The program, which was extant since 9/11, was canceled because the
administration claimed that it was not cost effective.
But a report just issued by the House Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure suggests that the opposite is true: Private screeners are
most cost-effective than the government employees at the TSA. The report
suggests that should the security screening operating at the nation's top 35
airports be made private, the American taxpayers would save $1 billion over
The TSA did not cooperate with the committee's investigation, nor seems to
be disposed to respond to its results. But the stonewalling may not be very
effective for two reasons.
The security protocols have become so onerous that at least two states,
Texas and Utah, are considering measures to criminalize them. Lurid stories,
often backed by videos, of TSA agents running their hands over the private
parts of airline passengers, including children and senior citizens not
exactly fitting the profile of mad terrorist bombers, has eroded the
credibility of the administration. The security procedures have sparked an
airline passenger revolt in certain cases.
Second, the Republicans in Congress are casting about for ways to cut
federal spending. Lowering the cost of airport security by taking it private
would seem to be a no-brainer in this case, especially if it also ends some
of the practices the public finds so objectionable.
The questions arise: If the House writes and passes a bill forcing the
privatization of airport security, will the Senate pass it as well and will
President Obama sign it?
The answer to the two questions are perhaps and maybe not. There may be
enough vulnerable Democratic senators who would be willing to vote for such
a bill and avoid angering their constituents. However, Obama has proved to
be quite stubborn about the size of government. Get rid of the TSA and take
airport security private? Not on your life, he will say, and he will veto
the bill, thus showing him to be in favor of pat downs that violate dignity
Sources: TSA Ignores More Cost-Effective Screening Model, House Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure, June 3, 2011
TSA Body Scanners, Pat Downs Sparking Airliner Passenger Revolt, Mark R.
Whittington, Associated Content, November 12, 2010
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