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Top 10 Reasons to Abolish the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
By Julie Borowski on May 11, 2012
[Click here for a PDF version of this document.]
1. The TSA Violates the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
This means that government officials must have probable cause that a person has committed a crime in order to search them. The TSA routinely violates the Fourth Amendment by subjecting airline passengers to X-Ray scanners and invasive pat downs without probable cause or a warrant. A person boarding an airplane does not justify probable cause.
2. The TSA Invades the Privacy of Airline Passengers.
The TSA allegedly randomly selects airline passengers to go through the X-Ray scanners. These full body scanners create a detailed outline of the passenger’s naked body for a TSA agent to examine in a back room. A lot of travelers are understandably highly uncomfortable with this procedure. Those passengers that opt out of the body scanners will be subjected to an invasive full contact pat down from a government bureaucrat. Many passengers who have experienced the pat downs equate them with sexual assault.
3. The TSA’s X-Ray Scanners May Have Health Risks.
The TSA claims that these X-Ray scanners are perfectly safe but some expert scientists say otherwise. A group of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco wrote a letter to the White House stating that "there is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations.” Pilots and other frequent fliers have expressed concern that the level of radiation may have long term health damages.
4. The TSA Cost Too Much Money.
The TSA’s budget has increased from $4.7 billion in 2002 to $7.8 billion in 2011. Despite the 60 percent increase in funding in less than a decade, the TSA has not improved safety at airports. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay billions of dollars a year for an incompetent bureaucracy.
5. The TSA Harasses and Humiliates Innocent Passengers.
The TSA has a long history of harassing and humiliating innocent airline passengers. For instance, a bladder cancer survivor was left embarrassed and covered with his own urine after the TSA roughly patted his urostomy bag despite warnings at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The TSA harasses airline passengers regardless of their age. Back in April 2011, a viral video surfaced of a TSA agent patting down a visibly upset six year old girl. Stories of the TSA fondling innocent young children and women are far too common. In June 2011, a 95 year old cancer-stricken woman was detained by the TSA for 45 minutes and asked to remove her adult diaper before boarding her flight at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport.
6. The TSA is Too Slow.
Many travelers complain about how long it takes to get through airport security when the TSA is in charge. The Pittsburgh International Airport recommends that passengers show up 90 minutes before a domestic flight and 2 hours before an International flight partly because it takes so long to get through security lines. Some travelers miss their scheduled flight because the TSA is taking too long to do their invasive procedures.
7. Abolishing the TSA Would Likely Minimize Wait Times.
Private security companies will likely minimize security waiting lines at the airport. It has been found that private screeners generally work faster than TSA agents. A 2011 House Transportation Committee found that, in the time it takes TSA screeners at the Los Angeles airport to process 100 passengers, private screeners at the San Francisco International Airport process 165 passengers. Private screeners were significantly faster than TSA agents in that particular study.
8. The TSA Doesn’t Make Us Safer.
The TSA is nothing more than Security Theater. It is a government monopoly that has no incentives to improve their screenings. The TSA has not caught a single terrorist since its inception. The now infamous “shoe bomber” and “underwear bomber” were not stopped by the TSA. These terrorists were instead stopped by airline passengers. A leaked TSA report found that security screeners failed to find fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as airline passengers in more than 60 percent of tests. TSA screeners at the Los Angeles International Airport missed about 75 percent of stimulated explosives and bomb parts that the undercover testers hid underneath their clothes or in their carry-on luggage.
9. Abolishing the TSA Would Likely Make Us Safer.
The TSA should be abolished and airline companies should be free to provide their own private security. Private airlines companies will then be held directly liable for any security lapses or harassment towards passengers. This means that airline companies have incentives to provide high quality security that treats consumers with respect.
A handful of airports use private screeners instead of TSA agents—the TSA is currently no longer permitting any additional airports to opt out.13 According to the same leaked TSA study cited above, the private screeners at the San Francisco International Airport detected a bomb hidden on the undercover agents 80 percent of the time—a rate much higher than TSA agents.
10. The TSA is Expanding its Reach.
The TSA isn’t just in airports anymore. The agency is increasingly conducting searches and screenings at subways, train stations, ferry docks, and other mass transit locations. It is time to end the TSA before they seize more control over transportation in the United States.