(NaturalNews) A new report by House Republican members of the Homeland Security Committee's subcommittee on Transportation Security essentially confirms what many Americans have known for years: The Transportation Security Administration is inept, overly burdensome to the transportation industry and largely ineffective in terms of identifying future threats.
In classic understatement fashion the report, titled, "Rebuilding TSA into a Smarter, Leaner Organization," concluded that "despite the reality that we have not endured another successful terrorist attack since 2001, TSA is failing to meet taxpayers' expectations."
The panel went on to to concede that bloated, all-powerful agency's insensitivity and obsession with defending grossly unpopular screening procedures is actually acting as an impediment to security - procedures and policies that also do not match current threat levels.
"The agency has gone down a troubling path of overspending, limiting private-sector engagement, and failing to sufficiently protect passenger privacy," said Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the subcommittee chairman, in announcing the report last week.
Impractical pat downs
"Eleven years after 9/11, the American people expect to see tangible progress in transportation security, with effective operations that respect both their privacy and their wallets," the committee report says. "The private sector is best suited to this challenge, not the federal government."
Private firms handled security at U.S. airports prior to the 9/11 attacks and some airports still use them, but experts say they would still do a much better job than the TSA is currently doing.
The report also said the TSA has not made clear why it decided to switch to a policy of invasive "enhanced" pat-downs, for example, or what kind of threat that procedure is designed to address.
"Pat-downs have hit a nerve with the general public, and TSA has failed to adequately explain why it continues to use this procedure two years after its initial roll-out," the committee's report says.
The committee's report - a culmination of 22 hearings, 15 member briefings and seven site surveys - recommended a reduction in pat downs while slamming the agency for taking an entire year to exclude children from the enhanced procedure after it was initially introduced in October 2010.
On the subject of the TSA's full-body backscatter x-ray machines, which have caused concern among a number of health experts for their potential to expose travelers to unhealthy levels of radiation, the report recommends TSA sponsor "an independent analysis" of the health risks of the machines, as well as installing privacy filters on all of them.
Growing agency, shrinking travelers
Citing a ruling in the EPIC v. Department of Homeland Security case, the lawmakers noted that the agency has so far failed to abide by the court's decision to "act promptly" to take public comments over the deployment of the scanners. They also questioned why the agency has grown so large while the number of air travelers has been consistently shrinking.
"A private-sector entity in the face of a shrinking customer base usually must downsize," the committee said. "TSA, by contrast, has continually grown its ranks despite fewer travelers."
The panel's Republicans also hit the agency over its inability to support what they deemed "private sector growth."
"From the field to headquarters, TSA has held on strongly to its 'government knows best' mentality. In part, this approach is supported by those who try to argue that TSA was created to do the job the private sector failed to do on 9/11," said the report.
"However, there is a crucial fact missing from that argument, which is that the layered security measures and government oversight that exists today did not exist in the airport environment before 9/11 when contractors performed screening functions. More importantly, even though the government quickly federalized aviation security and the screening workforce after 9/11, it does not mean it is the best approach for us today," it added.
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