The TSA Is a Gross Waste of Tax Dollars—and Doesn’t Make America Safer

Following DFW Airport assault on a child, it's time to abolish the TSA

People wait in a security line operated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport on May 24, 2016 in New York, New York. The TSA has come under renewed criticism from government officials and the general public following an escalation of wait times at security screenings at domestic airports as the summer travel season begins. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Before I worked for Sen. Rand Paul, he came to my former place of employment, The Heritage Foundation, and gave a speech in 2012 where he raised his hands over his head and asked “Is this the pose of a free man?”

He was striking the same pose that Americans are ordered to do every day as a condition of flying—a stark example of how citizens are treated like common criminals when they want to travel.

Since then, it appears things are getting worse and freedom is still under attack from federal TSA agents with a license to assault in the name of fighting terrorism. Yet, does anybody have grounds for a reasonable suspicion that the elderly, toddlers, and young kids are plotting to commit mass acts of violence?

This all came into focus with a recently released video hosted by the Dallas Morning News, where a young boy was treated worse than members of Al Qaeda or ISIS housed in Guantanamo Bay. Being subject to invasive searches at airports is truly an assault on the idea of freedom. Our natural right to privacy is violated by the federal government every time we board a plane.

On March 28th, Kim Breen and Julieta Chiquillo reported the following:

A mother who asked TSA agents at DFW International Airport for alternative screening for her son with special needs said they were “treated like dogs” and forced to miss a flight during an extensive security check, according to her Facebook post that has since gone viral.

But the Transportation Security Administration said, in a prepared statement, that it followed approved procedures to “resolve an alarm of the passenger’s laptop.”

Jennifer Williamson wrote Sunday morning that her son has a sensory processing disorder and that she asked agents to “screen him in other ways per TSA rules.”

This is a truly outrageous violation of a young boy’s rights.

The time has come to abolish the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Congress is in the middle of a new budget for the next fiscal year, so now is the time to repeal the TSA and replace it with a rational security system.

The fact that Americans tolerate the regular violations on freedom from the federal government through the TSA whittles away at privacy and sets a dangerous precedent for other areas of government. Warrantless wiretapping, spying, and treating American citizens as the functional equivalent of suspected terrorists is easier for the federal government when they are allowed to strip-search regular families, without probable cause.

The TSA was established in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I was a staffer for Sen. Bob Smith and was honored to work on the push to respond to those attacks by arming pilots against terrorism. The motto we used was that an armed pilot was the last line of defense to hijacking attempt. A provision was put into law allowing the arming of pilots to thwart terrorist attacks under four conditions. In May of 2002, TSA Administrator John Magaw blocked the program and chose instead the path of building up the TSA into a giant bureaucracy to stop 9/11 style attacks.

In response, Sens. Bob Smith, Barbara Boxer and Reps. John Mica  and Peter DeFazio created a bipartisan coalition across the Capitol to change the law to arm pilots. In the bill that created the Department of Homeland Security, these members of Congress passed an amendment that created the Federal Flight Deck Officers Program (FFDO) that still is in existence today. That program was not discretionary and passed by wide margins in both the House and the Senate.

Terrorists assaulted the cockpit to use airplanes as weapons of mass destruction and targeted flight attendants and pilots. The idea of training flight attendants in self-defense and arming pilots made more sense than creating an army of bureaucrats empowered to strip search average Americans in a way that does not make America any safer. Our nation has lost its collective mind when it comes to aviation security. We need to keep the armed pilots and get rid of the invasive screening that is hurting our aviation air travel economy.

Brian Darling is a former counsel for Sen. Bob Smith, Sen. Mel Martinez and SeRand Paul. He is the author of a Heritage Foundation policy paper titled “The Filibuster Protects the Rights of All Senators and the American People.” Follow him on Twitter @BrianHDarling. The TSA Is a Gross Waste of Tax Dollars—and Doesn’t Make America Safer