She bothers me every time I board a plane here in Boise, Idaho.
Two weeks ago, as I prepared to board my Southwest Airlines jet bound for Atlanta, I felt no different. I hate that thing, I thought to myself.
She stood at attention, in a flowery dress, with her hand planted firmly over her heart, presumably repeating the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag.
In black and white, she stands as a symbol of American propaganda, information designed to lie, deceive and manipulate.
Remember how it felt to feel safe, the government-approved language on her sign reads.
Ugh. I tied my shoes, zipped my backpack and moved on, disgust filling my heart.
On the return trip two days later, I overheard a father’s conservation with his twin sons, probably no more than eight years old, during their journey through security.
“These are the are the people who keep us safe when we fly,” said the father, dutifully reassuring his blonde boys, who sported soccer T-shirts and shorts.
Just then, their mom stepped into the security scanner, raised her arms. She willingly submitted to one of the great myths of our time.
I’ve long despised the Transportation Security Administration for political reasons: the agency lives to sustain its own existence, fill union coffers and inappropriately touch kids and the elderly.
News reports about TSA’s performance delivered in recent weeks cemented my absolute enmity toward the government agency.
According to the agency’s own report, TSA failed to find fake weapons and bombs at 67 of 70 tested security checkpoints. That’s a 5 percent success rate, if you were curious.
There’s more. TSA security checks standard for aviation workers failed to identify 73 staffers with connections to terrorist organizations. The agency also lacked critical information, such as basic data like Social Security numbers, for many private workers. That data, a report said, could only come through requests of other security divisions and departments.
Politicians clucked, as they do, in response.
“Our country cannot afford to entrust our aviation security to a government bureaucracy that fails a majority of the time,” South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune wrote in USA Today.
President Barack Obama’s administration expressed confidence in the agency after the report’s release.
“It disturbs me,” Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger told a Senate committee days ago. Neffenger, nominated to serve as TSA’s next chief, promised to address the issues.
American taxpayers spend more than $7 billion annually and the agency fails time and time again. If agents aren’t stealing iPads and cash, they’re sleeping on the job or late for work or they’re scheming to pat down “attractive men,” at least that’s what happened in the Denver airport this year.
It’s total and complete failure. Let’s be clear, though: Nothing will change. Not one thing.
Congress will hold hearings, reforms will come and TSA still won’t protect us. Mark my words.