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TSA: A Continuing Government Disaster!

By Ted Lang

In a week marked by no less than three separate official challenges to President George Bush’s reasons for taking the United States to war with Iraq, including the posture offered by former Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer by saying that the invading force was grossly undermanned as had been suggested before the invasion by then-Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinsecki, the Bush administration and Congress continue to be bullied by an “armchair bureaucrat” who ignores reality, and both the will and the safety of the American people.

It is hard to find a more astonishing and comparable bureaucratic incident of domination of both the White House and the Congress on an issue so vital as regards the safety and security of the American people. Perhaps a close runner-up is the bureaucratic dictatorship of William Ruckleshaus, the former EPA administrator who summarily banned the use of DDT without any real meaningful debate or real fact-finding inquiry and analysis.

But the current Transportation Safety Administration issue is even more pervasive, as is the threat of continuing terrorist airline hijackings. And at a time when the Congress is introducing even more mind-numbing oppressive legislative expansions of the PATRIOT Act to further crush and destroy America’s vital freedoms, the simple alternative of arming airline pilots has now been virtually shelved by anti-gun Secretary of Transportation, Norman Mineta.

Mineta’s obstructionism has persevered over and above concerns of airline safety, the very reason the TSA was brought into being by the Bush administration. In their October 7th e-mailed newsletter entitled “Arming-pilots amendment,” The Liberty Committee offers: “We knew the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) would aggressively oppose the amendment and do all it could to stop it from being accepted by the House Rules Committee. TSA has deliberately dragged its feet on implementing the Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDO) program that Congress approved and President Bush signed over two years ago. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, a former congressman who has a long history of being anti-gun, fought against the FFDO program from the beginning.”

The article goes on: “To satisfy some members of the House Judiciary Committee and House Transportation Committee, some provisions of the now Goode-Paul amendment were removed. The most important provisions, however, were kept. We thought the revised amendment would then be accepted by the House Rules Committee because of the active support of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, along with your calls to Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Gun Owners of America also actively supported the Goode-Paul amendment. Unfortunately for the flying public, the high-level bureaucrats and well-connected special interests prevailed and the Goode-Paul amendment was rejected.”

Even more astonishing than the powerful influence that Mineta and his TSA special interest supporters exhibit, is the overall incompetence and criminal negligence displayed by the agency itself. The agency’s hiring practices have become the subject of increasing scrutiny, focusing on the criminal backgrounds of those hired to serve as screeners to search the luggage of law-abiding air travelers.

Not surprisingly, many air travel patrons have been robbed of their belongings and property. Of course, there are congressional probes and investigations by other government agencies responding to these crimes, but it would seem that Secretary Mineta should be paying more attention to these failures in his agency than stifling the will of the president and the Congress by commandeering Congressman David Dreier’s [R-CA] House Rules Committee. The Liberty Committee points out that Dreier’s Committee blocked the legislation from reaching the House floor for open debate and discussion.

Perhaps Chairman Dreier supports arming pilots, but influential special interests groups know how to throw money and influence around, thereby frustrating continuously the will of the people and what’s in their best interest.

Quoting Congressman Ron Paul [R-TX], The Liberty Committee’s founder, the newsletter states “On May 6, 2002, Congressman Ron Paul stated, ‘More than 20,000 airline pilots presented a petition to Congress last week, demanding the right to carry guns in the cockpit to prevent future terrorist hijackings. Pilots from all of the major unions, including the large Air Line Pilots Association, overwhelmingly favor having the choice to carry a gun when they fly. These pilots are the men and women who actually stand in harm's way in the event of future hijacking attempts, and surely we should trust their judgment over the judgment of armchair bureaucrats and pundits in Washington. Yet the Transportation department continues to ignore both the wisdom of pilots and federal law by refusing to implement rules allowing firearms in the cockpit."

<<Theodore E. Lang>>

Ted Lang10/08/04
© THEODORE E. LANG 10/08/04 All rights reserved

Ted Lang is a political analyst and freelance writer.

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