Saturday, January 28, 2012

Media Succumbs to TSA Propaganda

The press that was railing about the intrusive TSA procedures less than a year ago has seemingly taken a softer approach toward TSA in the past month, reporting frequently about improperly checked weapons, empty shotgun shells, dangerous cupcakes and loose change at checkpoints. While many of the recent TSA related mainstream media reports resemble public service announcements for the agency, crimes by TSA workers go unreported or largely ignored by the major news outlets.

In December a TSA screener at La Guardia Airport was arrested for stealing a laptop from a college student as he passed through security. TSA screener, Edwin Rosario, was for taking the computer on Dec. 19, 2011. Rosario was seen on surveillance video taking the laptop and admitted to the theft when a TSA supervisor confronted him about it at his Bronx apartment. Curiously, the incident was not reported until after the busy holiday travel season and then not in any major publication.

In another incident, a Federal Air Marshall, ironically named Adam Marshall, was arrested by the Boston police department on Dec. 10 after he allegedly argued with members of Occupy at 3:00AM, called some of them prostitutes, struck one of the organizers in the face and stole her iPhone. This is especially troubling since Air Marshalls are armed and have the power of arrest. This too went unreported and didn’t make it to internet outlets until nearly a month later.

Incidents like this occur when you have an unaccountable agency whose workers can harass passengers with impunity and come to consider themselves above the law. There were 62 TSA workers arrested in 2011, an average of one every six days and these two add to that number nearly a month after they happened.

Many agencies in Government have as many workers as TSA yet none of these has anywhere near the same level of employee criminal activity. We virtually never read of an IRS, FBI or FAA employee being arrested but this is common for TSA employees and often the crimes are particularly heinous, such as child molestation and even one murder. In many cases, investigations after their arrest reveal that these workers had past criminal records that TSA ignored or failed to discover.

TSA hiring standards state that the worker may not have had a criminal conviction in the past ten years and excludes juvenile convictions when the applicant becomes 18 even if the conviction is less than a year old. Consequently many TSA workers have past criminal histories yet are entrusted with airline security and custody of our belongings.

Now AFGE, the TSA union, is pushing the agency to give TSA screeners the power to arrest travelers whom they determine to be a threat of not complying with TSA regulations. If the union is successful in gaining more authority for already unaccountable workers, it is simply a matter of time before law-abiding travelers are being arrested by TSA screeners for failure to show proper deference to power tripping ex-convicts with a grudge against society.