TSA: Hey, Maybe We Just Shouldn't Screen Travelers At Smaller Airports

Posted: Apr 26, 2016 3:05 PM

In one of the more mind-bogglingly bad ideas that has ever been presented, the TSA apparently proposed not screening travelers at smaller regional airports and instead screening them upon arrival in a bigger city. The idea is that not screening travelers would create a more "efficient" travel experience.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, members of Congress were not on the same page as the TSA and promptly shut down this idea.

But then Congress got wind of the proposal. And now the TSA is backing down after lawmakers denounced the idea as bizarre and even dangerous, especially following terrorist attacks such as the March bombings in Brussels.

“From a security standpoint, it makes no sense,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who learned months ago that the TSA had refused to place screeners at a regional airport in his district. Instead, the agency suggested, it would screen the passengers after they landed at larger airports and before they boarded connecting flights.

The dispute represents yet another setback for the agency’s troubled efforts to adopt what advocates call a leaner, more “risk-based” security strategy in an era of flat-lined budgets.

Well, yeah. This is a terrible idea. As one congressman pointed out, there's no guarantee that the plane in question would even make it to its destination if passengers were not screened. Further, as we saw in Belgium, it's not just the airplanes that are the targets. There's no reason why a passenger couldn't smuggle a bomb through a small airport, and then detonate it at the security checkpoint at a larger airport--potentially killing far more people than would fit on a puddle jumper. The TSA's idea was an incredibly short-sighted one.

It's even more head-scratching when one considers that the ringleader of the September 11 attack basically used an identical plan to slip through security. Mohammad Atta knew that the security at the small Portland International Jetport would be far less intense than at Boston's airport, and was able to breeze through without getting held up.

The TSA is supposed to protect Americans, but ridiculous proposals like these make it tough to trust them.