By: Charles G. Slepian

Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center, LLC

April 26, 2016

 In November, 2001, the creation of the Transportation Security Administration was rolled out by the White House a day or two before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year.  Almost fifteen years have past and the promise of safe air travel remains more a dream than a reality as we continue to experience repeated aviation security failures and their concomitant tragedies. Upon his retirement from public service, a former joint chiefs of staff chairman and secretary of state commented that among his fears was “America has lost its sense of shame”, words uttered I am sure in a broader context than aviation security. When the subject of leadership comes up, I invariably remember that quote from a boy hood schoolmate of mine from the South Bronx, Colin Powell.  And when I read Today’s articles in the press citing the same broken promises made over the past decade and a half: “Senate Approves Bill to Improve Airport Security, TSA Wait Times” I wonder if anyone, including the author, really believes it.

 Those who follow the commentaries appearing several time a month on the Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center website, or on Facebook, know that more than a score of articles citing broken promises from TSA, Congress and numerous public figures have made it clear that the magnitude of the problem of securing commercial aviation is far out stripped by any real solutions.  And when the head of TSA has to publicly admit that only 3 out of 300 commercial airports in the United States can actually claim to have fully background vetted personnel accessing so called “sterile” airport areas, it should be clear to all who fly commercially that securing our airports, aircraft and the passengers and property that pass through those facilities is clearly not the priority that our government would have it believe it is.

 The extraordinary powers to question, search, and seize passengers, shippers and vendor’s persons and property despite its size and eight billion dollar a year budget, continues to project a myth of real of security competence.  And given the horrendous events in the Brussels Airport where security amounted to little more than a farce, for our response to be to promise more visibility of security personnel, longer lines at screening stations and increased private security costs to be borne by the private sector as an answer to an ever growing security and terrorism threat is yet another concession that we really have no answers to the repeated question, how do we fix the problem?

 Legislators, other government leaders and commercial aviation bureaucrats have demonstrated they are simply outclassed by the assorted terrorists, ordinary criminals and opportunistic thugs who continue to compete for their share of the profit from the commercial aviation system. For too long now, the government has held on to the “jobs program” that federal aviation security has become.  It is time to turn over the planning of how to secure our airports to a private sector consortium of university brain power and entrepreneurial security experts with appropriate aviation and transportation backgrounds to quickly develop an aviation security program that makes sense instead of one that relies on public relations apologists skilled at attributing their repeated failures to others.


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