Abolish the Department of Homeland Security

I have a love/hate relationship with the Cato Institute. Most of their analysis I strongly disagree with, but some of it I equally strongly agree with. Last September 11 -- the tenth anniversary of 9/11 -- Cato's David Rittgers published "Abolish the Department of Homeland Security":

DHS has too many subdivisions in too many disparate fields to operate effectively. Agencies with responsibilities for counterfeiting investigations, border security, disaster preparedness, federal law enforcement training, biological warfare defense, and computer incident response find themselves under the same cabinet official. This arrangement has not enhanced the government's competence. Americans are not safer because the head of DHS is simultaneously responsible for airport security and governmental efforts to counter potential flu epidemics.

National defense is a key governmental responsibility, but focusing too many resources on trying to defend every potential terrorist target is a recipe for wasteful spending. Our limited resources are better spent on investigating and arresting aspiring terrorists. DHS responsibilities for aviation security, domestic surveillance, and port security have made it too easy for politicians to disguise pork barrel spending in red, white, and blue. Politicians want to bring money home to their districts, and as a result, DHS appropriations too often differ from what ought to be DHS priorities.

I agree with that. In fact, in 2003, when the country was debating a single organization that would be responsible for most (not all, since the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Department of Defense were too powerful to lose any pieces of themselves) of the country's counterterrorism efforts, I wrote:

Our nation may actually be less secure if the Department of Homeland Security eventually takes over the responsibilities of existing agencies. The last thing we want is for the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of State to say: "Security; that's the responsibility of the DHS."

Security is the responsibility of everyone in government. We won't defeat terrorism by finding a single thing that works all the time. We'll defeat terrorism when every little thing works in its own way, and together provides an immune system for our society. Unless the DHS distributes security responsibility even as it centralizes coordination, it won't improve our nation's security.

Back to the Cato report:

The Department of Homeland Security should be abolished and its components reorganized into more practical groupings. The agencies tasked with immigration, border security, and customs enforcement belong under the same oversight agency, which could appropriately be called the Border Security Administration. The Transportation Security Administration and Federal Air Marshals Service should be abolished, and the federal government should end support for fusion centers. The remaining DHS organizations should return to their former parent agencies.

Hard to argue with most of that, although abolishing the TSA isn't a good idea. Airport security should be rolled back to pre-9/11 levels, but someone is going to have to be in charge of it. Putting the airlines in charge of it doesn't make sense; their incentives are going to be passenger service rather than security. Some government agency either has to hire the screeners and staff the checkpoints, or make and enforce rules for contractor-staffed checkpoints to follow.

Last November, the U.S. Congressional Republicans published a report very critical of the TSA: "A Decade Later: A Call for TSA Reform."

This report is an examination and critical analysis of the development, evolution, and current status and performance of TSA ten years after its creation. Since its inception, TSA has lost its focus on transportation security. Instead, it has grown into an enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy, more concerned with human resource management and consolidating power, and acting reactively instead of proactively. As discussed more fully in the Recommendations section on page 18, TSA must realign its responsibilities as a federal regulator and focus on analyzing intelligence, setting screening and security standards based on risk, auditing passenger and baggage screening operations, and ensuring compliance with national screening standards.

In a related link, there's a response to a petition to abolish the TSA. The response is by TSA administrator John Pistole, so it's not the most objective piece of writing on the topic, and doesn't actually respond to the petition:

Why TSA Exists.

TSA was created two months after the September 11 terrorist attacks, when Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) [.pdf] to keep the millions of Americans who travel each day safe and secure across numerous modes of transportation.

Over the past 10 years, TSA has strengthened security by creating successful programs and deploying technologies that were not in place prior to September 11, while also taking steps whenever possible to enhance the passenger experience. Here are just a few of the many steps TSA has taken to strengthen our multi-layered approach to security....

[...]

Our Nation is safer and better prepared today because of these and other efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, TSA, and our federal, state, local and international partners. TSA is constantly identifying ways to continue to strengthen security and improve the passenger experience and appreciates the feedback of the public.

Pistole just assumes that what his organization is doing is important, and never even mentions how much it costs or whether it's worth it.

Posted on January 12, 2012 at 3:04 PM • 54 Comments

Comments

CraigJanuary 12, 2012 3:27 PM

Actually, I think abolishing the TSA is a great idea. We used to let airports and airlines manage their own security, once upon a time. Why does the federal government need to do it?

The TSA has turned every airport in the country into a rerun of the Stanford Prison Experiment, with increasingly abusive agents and a set of rules that changes continually for no purpose other than to keep citizens feeling insecure and confused. The TSA should be abolished.

ChrisJanuary 12, 2012 3:29 PM

not only does he not mention wether it's worth it, he doesn't actually support his "argument". He offers things the TSA has done to "improve" security (most of which could easily have happened without a TSA, like hardened cockpit doors) but no evidence they're actually making us safer.

trapspam.honeypotJanuary 12, 2012 3:42 PM

When the Department of Agriculture was forced into TSA border employees had to purchase new uniforms immediately at their own expense. I was living near the Mexican/California border in San Diego and had a friend who was a senior border inspector at the time. He was due for retirement within 90 days and still had to spend the money for uniforms.

LinkTheValiantJanuary 12, 2012 3:50 PM

Hard to argue with most of that, although abolishing the TSA isn't a good idea. Airport security should be rolled back to pre-9/11 levels, but someone is going to have to be in charge of it. Putting the airlines in charge of it doesn't make sense; their incentives are going to be passenger service rather than security. Some government agency either has to hire the screeners and staff the checkpoints, or make and enforce rules for contractor-staffed checkpoints to follow.

Unfortunately, this makes me think of the model the credit card companies use. How well do you think it would work to have an acceptable maximum rate of terrorist activity before airlines become liable? It doesn't scale.

Either you have the TSA handle things, or you have a system with regulations so onerous that the government body set up to handle them might as well be the TSA we have now.

However, this is true only because any terrorist activity following the airlines assuming responsibility would result in a loud public outcry for the "good old days" of the TSA. Have to love the sheep mentality.

Christopher BurgJanuary 12, 2012 3:53 PM

Hard to argue with most of that, although abolishing the TSA isn't a good idea. Airport security should be rolled back to pre-9/11 levels, but someone is going to have to be in charge of it. Putting the airlines in charge of it doesn't make sense; their incentives are going to be passenger service rather than security.

I find myself having to disagree with this statement. While airliners certainly have and incentive to ensure good customer service they also have an incentive to protect their property.

Airplanes and airports themselves are high ticket items that airliners do not wish to replace unless necessary. If a plane is destroyed it must be replaced and even if an insurance plan covers the replacement of the plane the airliners will find themselves paying more for insurance policies in the future. Therefore the airliners have a strong incentive to ensure security of their airport and planes.

In addition to that passengers are unlikely to choose an airliner that has a poor security record. If you have a choice between flying Airline Security who has never had a security-related incident and Airline Insecurity who has a track record of security breeches leading to passenger injuries and/or deaths who is likely to win out? This is a case where security and customer service are going to be hand in hand.

PrometheeFeuJanuary 12, 2012 4:06 PM

"Hard to argue with most of that, although abolishing the TSA isn't a good idea. Airport security should be rolled back to pre-9/11 levels, but someone is going to have to be in charge of it. Putting the airlines in charge of it doesn't make sense; their incentives are going to be passenger service rather than security."

Wait what? Isn't the fact that I'm going to make it to my destination without getting blown up an integral part of the service the airline is selling me? I would be unlikely to fly with an airline that didn't take security seriously.

@LinkTheValiant:

You could just make the damage from terrorist attacks fall under strict liability: The airline has to pay for it no matter what. The airline then has an incentive to take effective measures to prevent the terrorist acts while balancing that against the convenience to passengers.

NobodySpecialJanuary 12, 2012 4:10 PM

The problem is that there are certain externalities once you start crashing planes into sky scrapers.

It's ok to say I have a choice to fly on a 'safe' airline that strips searches me and bans my cupcakes, or risk a 'dangerous' one that doesn't make me check -in 3hours early.

However I don't have the choice of which of those aircraft crashes into my office.

Dan LynchJanuary 12, 2012 4:11 PM

Airlines and airports can and should handle their own security just like any other business or institution.

GeorgeJanuary 12, 2012 4:15 PM

Of course, that Republican criticism of the TSA is mere political theatre. When it comes time to vote, they are guaranteed to maintain the status quo of giving the TSA a blank check to do whatever they want. And the same thing with any reform of DHS.

The entire DHS is impervious to any criticism and immune to any cost-benefit considerations because nobody in Congress will ever risk being branded "soft on terrorism" by doing anything to "weaken" the DHS by requiring oversight and accountability.

Because of the politician's inherent self-preservation instinct that overrides all other concerns, the DHS (and particularly the TSA) has achieved what other bureaucracies can only dream of: Unlimited ability to expand its size, authority, and funding. Pistole's unsurprisingly self-serving response is merely confirmation.

Christopher BurgJanuary 12, 2012 4:31 PM

@NobodySpecial:

First of all you're using an exceedingly rare situation that was a combination of failures including intelligence and airline security to justify a central authority controlling security for all airliners. Second you're assuming the airliners learned nothing from the ordeal and wouldn't have implemented better security measures after the exceedingly rare situation.

Another thing you're assuming an airliner who had poor security would continue to be in business. Whether it was due to lawsuits or passengers going to the competition they wouldn't be around for you to choose.

MattJanuary 12, 2012 4:39 PM

For international flights, would other countries allow the US to revert to pre-9/11 security arrangements? Flights only operate if governments in both countries agree to let them operate.

Also, if you were to abolish DHS, what would you do to solve the problem of agencies not talking to one another? I'm not saying that the DHS has or hasn't solved this problem, but if you're going to do away with one attempted solution it seems reasonable to put another solution in its place. In this context it seems particularly strange to recommend withdrawing funding for fusion centres, another potential solution to this problem.

Robert S. PorterJanuary 12, 2012 4:40 PM

I have to be "that guy". The Cato Institute is not an acronym or an initialism.

And you say you have a love hate relationship with Cato. I assume the hate comes from a different economic ideology and the love comes from their association with people like John Mueller, no?

Clive RobinsonJanuary 12, 2012 4:40 PM

@ Dan Lynch,

Airlines and airports can and should handle their own security just like any other business or institution.

That's a false argument.

As has been noted before businesses and institutions are not responsable for the entirety of their own security only a small part. The law clearly stops the majority from having their own police force and all having their own armed forces.

In the US transport organisations and some other organisations can have their own police force but their juresdiction is limited to the organisations property (vehicles, track, stations, campus etc) and they don't have the full abilities of local municipal LEO's. In this respect the US is a bit of an anomaly in WASP nations.

In general for most WASP nations the police and military are paid from the tax take, be it the national or local taxation or both.

As ICT/IS security personnel we should be cognizant of this important point because these rules currently only apply to the physical world not the information world. That is currently there is little or no restraint on you attacking another organisation based in a foreign jurisdiction, which is why a number of countries (predominantly the US and Israel) are talking up cyber-crime and cyber-espionage into cyber-war and cyber-terrorism.

Remember even ships at sea are restrained from what they can do by international law, which is one of the reasons we currently have significant issues of Piracy in certain parts of the world where the "home countries" of the pirates have either chosen not to or cannot for other reasons carry out their international responsabilities with respect to Piracy.

Lisa SimeoneJanuary 12, 2012 5:06 PM

Quoting Craig: "The TSA has turned every airport in the country into a rerun of the Stanford Prison Experiment."

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I've grown blue in the face from saying it.

As for people who still don't understand that 9/11 was an anomaly (and the result of negligence by our intelligence agencies), a few facts:

No bombs were brought onto planes on 9/11. The planes themselves were commandeered, something that won't happen again because the cockpit doors have been secured, and because passengers will no longer silently submit (which is more than I can say for TSA apologists).

The last time a bomb smuggled aboard an airplane in the USA detonated was December 11, 1967. The plane landed safely; no fatalities, no injuries. Aviation Safety Network:
http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?...

The last time a bomb was smuggled aboard an aircraft in the US from which there were fatalities was May 22, 1962. Aviation Safety Network:
http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?...

Almost 50 years. And for all that time, until just recently, the TSA reign of molestation and rank stupidity didn't exist. Gee, how is it possible we all haven't been blown out of the sky by now? After all, The Terrorists Are Everywhere!

What happens if somebody detonates himself in the security line itself? A cafe? Parking garage? Do we strip and grope everybody every time they leave the house? Some people just won't be happy until Uncle Sam is sticking his fingers up their a*ses.

You're more likely to drown in your bathtub, to choke on a sandwich, to die from peanut allergy, and certainly to be killed in a car accident, than to get blown out of the sky in a terrorist attack.

If a person is so ill-equipped to deal with the risks of everyday life, including the infinitesimally small risk of a terrorist attack, perhaps he/she should just stay at home cowering under the bed, and let the rest of us fly freely and live our lives in freedom and dignity.

SteveJanuary 12, 2012 5:14 PM

And while we're talking about DHS overreach, can someone explain why the Coast Guard (forced into DHS) is patrolling in the Persian Gulf?

NobodySpecialJanuary 12, 2012 6:17 PM

@Lisa Simeone - not arguing for the TSA. But bombs an Air India flight (from Canada in 1985) and Pan Am flight (from London in 1991) killed 330 and 250 people - under security arrangements that were almost identical to the USA pre 9/11.

Ironically it's very unclear that all the current TSA precautions would stop either of these attacks today


Lisa SimeoneJanuary 12, 2012 7:40 PM

NobodySpecial,

Pan Am over Lockerbie was from a bomb in the cargo -- 60% of which still goes unscreened in the U.S. Maybe if TSA agents weren't so busy sticking their hands down people pants, they could screen cargo.

Regardless, you're still more likely to die in a car accident. 35,000 traffic fatalities in this country every year. Have you stopped driving?

Snarki, child of LokiJanuary 12, 2012 7:43 PM

I have to agree with Bruce re: TSA.

It makes a lot of sense, *whatever* the level of passenger scrutiny, to have a uniform level of scrutiny throughout the US (the 'security domain' in question).

Otherwise, attacks just go to the weakest point. In the USA, that USED to be Burbank airport, the one commerical airport that is commerically owned and operated. After the last flight of the day departed (~10pm), the security just *left*, leaving magnetometers, etc, unmanned. Anyone could just walk in and cache weapons for someone to pick up the next day after they go through the security check.

And if you think airlines would handle security well, just remember that they have a lot of 'self interest' in aircraft safety and maintenance, yet because it costs $$$ and airlines often marginally profitable, corners are cut. Given cost/benefit analysis, insurance, and the certainty that airline execs have arranged golden parachutes for themselves, it would be foolhardy to trust that airlines will put 'safety first' out of self interest.

No opinion on the breakup of DHS, but I do wish they'd change the name to something that isn't quite so reminiscent of fascism.

HundoJanuary 12, 2012 7:43 PM

The first concern of the DHS is not to protect you because they only get paid if they threaten you with force via taxation for your money.

It is called a state-operated protection money scam. And no, the right to vote makes no difference just like voting for you local mafia kingpin is ludicrous.

Anything after that is gobbledegoog.

Jordan BrownJanuary 12, 2012 8:16 PM

@NobodySpecial: Your point about the people in the office buildings being impacted by airport/airplane security is valid, *but*... bombs are a really lousy way to get airplanes to hit office buildings. Bombs are good at destroying airplanes, but are not very good at turning the airplanes into weapons.

On September 10th, 2001, it might have worked for a hijacker to say "let me fly the airplane or I'll blow it up". It doesn't work any more, starting mid-morning the next day.

S. TaylorJanuary 12, 2012 8:33 PM

This blog and the comments generally give me hope that not everyone has succumbed to post 9/11 FUD. From my perspective, 9/11 succeeded because airline cockpits were easily accessible and no one expected a takeover with suicide as the outcome. And what was the response? ...DHS and a TSA organization that has never quite figured out how to address the issues of airline security. It never made sense to me. I think we need clear thinking and leadership from security professionals who like what they do and who know how to balance risks against costs.

NobodySpecialJanuary 12, 2012 8:46 PM

@ Lisa Simeone - yes that was my point.

All the security theatre over cupcakes and nude scanners wouldn't have helped the traditional bomb in the luggage, planted on either an unsuspecting passenger or by unscreened ground staff.

It's not the security that has prevented bombs since 1965 and it's not that bombs on planes are unworkable.

JoshaJanuary 12, 2012 9:09 PM

I understood the original intent, but the execution didn't come off well. No one wanted to give up their individual kingdoms and things seem to be more of a jumbled mess.

One positive: I do like the pseudo-random pictures of attractive employees on their web sites. It's fun to refresh the page and imagine, "I'd like to work with her!"

@Snarki, child of Loki: "No opinion on the breakup of DHS, but I do wish they'd change the name ...."

I never understood how they thought that name was a good idea.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 12, 2012 9:23 PM

@ S. Taylor,

I think we need clear thinking and leadership from security professionals who like what they do and who know how to balance risks against costs.

On paper that sounds great but in practice it's unworkable...

The reason is the politico's want "Zero Risk" and the cost of that will always exceed any budget assignable from even 100% world taxation as long as aircraft fly with humans on board etc.

What the DHS and the TSA is doing is being "tired old generals fighting the last war again" as policy. That is nearly all their measures are aimed at the last attack and those preceading it (except for the photo copier bombs in the hold).

The DHS/TSA know there is not a "snowball in hells chance" of them stoping every attack vector not just due to lack of finance, but also because passangers still have to travel. So their strategy is simple, "fight the last war only" and if and when a new attack vector comes up vigourously claim it was "unpredictable", "Congress would not allow cavity searching", "scanning equipment failed to detect", "staff in foreign countries did not carry out proper screaning" etc. Anything other than admit they know all they can do is fail when chalenged by pepole of moderate (or less) intelligence...

And the Politico's know this as well (or if they don't they are to stupid to hold office) So they will accept the DHS/TSA arguments when it all goes wrong provided it's not "an action replay" and grant them more money...

Which begs the question all "conspiracy nuts" will ask which is "When will the DHS/TSA have a fund raiser" or to put itt more bluntly run a faux attack (it does not need to be real) using a new vector just to ensure the pork barrels keep rolling their way.

As noted above the number one rule for a bureaucracy is "Continued Existance". Further rule number two is "expand the empire". From these two rules alone it can be seen that a bureaucracy cannot be anything other than corrupt at the highest levels...

C U AnonJanuary 12, 2012 9:32 PM

@ Robert S. Porter

The Cato Institute is not an acronym or an initialism.

You mean it's just a name? Which just happens to sound like the name of the sidekick to that inept French Inspector Jacques Clouseau of Pink Panther fame?

RobertTJanuary 12, 2012 10:55 PM

You've got to be joking right!

Abolish the best little earner that most of these incompetent people will EVER find and you think that's ever going to happen.

DHS sucks, but we are stuck with it! Frankly, I'd rather focus on how to make some of their money flow into my pocket, than to undermine DHS. One way leads to frustration, (like arguing with an idiot), the other way I'm at least financially compensated for dealing with the monumental stupidity of DHS.

SteveJanuary 12, 2012 10:58 PM

@ Tim

"Duh. They are guarding a coast."

Duh. They're supposed to be guarding OUR coasts.

GregWJanuary 13, 2012 12:29 AM

The great and terrible Orwellian irony of the creation of DHS is that the logical place to rest responsibility for "Defense" is with the "Department of Defense". But they wanted neither the blame nor the risk/responsibility of that mission in the aftermath of 9/11.

If they can't handle the job of Defense, perhaps we should rename them back to the "Department of War" or the "National Military Establishment" and then let them fight for their budget in Congress without the nice branding? Call a spade a spade?

(I recognize that there probably is some value in reminding them (and politicians) through their name that their ultimate job is "Defense"... so a more serious recommendation is that perhaps we should rename them to the "Department of Deterrence". Kind of clunky though; other suggestions welcome.)

(And despite my above comments, I recognize that turning the DoD's gaze towards American citizens is probably even more Orwellian than just the name/labelling so perhaps I should be grateful we didn't completely obliterate the wisdom of the posse commitatus roles.)

GregWJanuary 13, 2012 1:57 AM

(To spell it out-- which I realized I didn't quite do... the US's "Department of Defense" is really a "Department of Offense", right?

Offense at least in function, if not in purpose. "The best defense is a good offense", "Speak softly but carry a big stick", "Peace through strength", "Don't let another Hitler-like aggressor get away with early misdeeds unchecked", etc.)

Lisa SimeoneJanuary 13, 2012 6:54 AM

It was called the Department of War, until 1947, when it was changed to Department of Defense (talk about Orwellian).

As for a false flag attack to ramp up the fear factor -- and, of course, ensure more profits to "security" contractors -- I wouldn't put anything past these agencies. The sheeple would fall right into line.

NobodySpecialJanuary 13, 2012 7:55 AM

My company was trying to sell some off-the-shelf comms gear to the forces.
Although the troops loved it in trials we were tied up for years by random changing contract demands from the DoD.
Eventually the Isrealis bought it and even offered us funding to build it in Isreal.

As one of their officers explained:
"The purpose of the IDF is to defend Isreal."
"The purpose of the DoD (and the UK's MoD) is to defend the Department of Defense."

GregWJanuary 13, 2012 8:21 AM

@Lisa, yes, I implied that with my phrase "rename them back". Orwell's book 1984 came out the same year as the DoD renaming, both in 1949.

BobJanuary 13, 2012 8:39 AM

Tom Ridge was appointed as the director of the Office of Homeland Security within a month of 9/11. The 343 page comprehensive USA Patriot Act formalizing functions of that office was passed 3 weeks later with very few lawmakers reading it.

I'm not one of those who think that 9/11 was an inside job, but it sure seems as though someone had stuff ready to pull over on us from an event like that.

None of the other previously existing departments had the authority to snoop on American citizens without a court order. Under the Patriot Act, all DHS needs to do is a hearsay reason to get a rubber stamp from a star chamber FISA judge to invade your privacy.

Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention - "and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other."

ConnGatorJanuary 13, 2012 8:47 AM


Now I am really curious about the Cato analyses that you disagree with, especially relating to security.

Can you elaborate?

AdamJanuary 13, 2012 10:49 AM

Hi,

People have gone back and forth above over abolish the TSA vs need for oversight. What I don't see is any discussion of "If we need oversight, what form should it take?"

There are at least two models that have been used in the US: FAA oversight, and TSA oversight. TSA oversight is entirely focused on security, not the overall health of the travel system. That leads to a litany of outrages, but it's a principal/agent-like problem, where the agent is concerned with being able to say "We did everything we could to prevent this" and the principals have broader concerns.

So we should move oversight somewhere that's more likely to take a balanced approach, and abolish the TSA.

RichJanuary 13, 2012 11:11 AM

DoD did not replace Department of War

Department of the Army replaced Department of War - and ceased to be a cabinet department

Department of the Air Force was spun off of the Army

Department of the Navy stayed Department of the Navy - but ceased to be a cabinet department

Those three departments were put under a new parent - named Department of Defense - which would represent all three in the Cabinet, rather than having three separate (and antagonistic?)cabinet members

Orwell not needed

ZanshinJanuary 13, 2012 2:44 PM

While we are at it, the TSA should be abolished as well. An expensive agency that has wasted 100 of millions of traveler's time and never stopped a single threat.

DaveJanuary 13, 2012 3:12 PM

If you've see the new HQ being built for DHS you will realize that abolishing it will never happen. To say that TSA and DHS have not accomplished anything is ignorant. That being said, I do agree that DHS was a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11. Heads of CIA, NSA, and ICE should have been fired as soon as it was determined that more attacks were not imminent. Mueller at FBI gets a pass because it was his first week holding the appointment. Reorgs of those entities would have been more cost effective and efficient. DHS overlaps too many of these organizations and adding a layer of duplicity never makes things more efficient. Also as having visited one and knowing people who participate in the fusion centers, I think most would agree that it has helped remove many traditional impediments to communication between local and government law enforcement. If Fusion centers were in place it is possible; I will not say likely, that 9/11 could have been averted.

Richard EckertJanuary 13, 2012 3:25 PM

I was the CIA agent, now burn noticed by Bill Clinton for not responding(to satisfy blow job Bill) to his statement "I am am a fag,join my communist party and I will get you an active security clearence". So I told Mohammed Atta, he did the rest.

kjJanuary 13, 2012 10:36 PM

What do these fools that claim the airlines have a great interest in handling security think the airlines ignored up through 9/11? How about the security of its staff, passengers, and the folks in the towers? It is costly, difficult and something that profit motivated execs should not be trusted with.

Construction WorkerJanuary 13, 2012 11:10 PM

Bill Foster: What are you doing to the street?

Construction Worker: We're fixing it! What the Hell does it look like?

Bill Foster: Two days ago it was fine. Are you telling me the street fell apart in two days?

Construction Worker: Well, I guess so.

Bill Foster: Pardon me, but that's bullshit. You see, I don't think anything's wrong with the street! I think you're just trying to justify your inflated budgets! I know how it works! If you don't spend the projected amount this year, you don't get the same amount next year! Now, I want you to admit, THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THE STREET!

Construction Worker: Hey, fuck you, pal.

GFKjuniorJanuary 14, 2012 2:22 AM

Why stop at the TSA? Let's get rid of the NSA, CIA, FBI, DEA, ICE, and the ATF.

averrosJanuary 14, 2012 3:50 AM

Why stop at these three letter agencies? Let's get rid of the US Government because it is bankrupt, illegitimate (by the fact of gross wholesale violation of the supreme law of the land - the very document which is universally considered to give it legitimacy in the first place), completely corrupt, and totally unnecessary.

We don't really need a bunch of thieves and war criminals to lord over us, do we?

GregJanuary 14, 2012 4:31 AM

There is an acceptable amount of rat feces in your food. What is, for instance, food producer Cargill's estimation of the acceptable amount of fat feces in your food? A lot higher than yours I bet. Those that think handing security or anything else to the companies working in those industries, engage in magical thinking. Oh, the marketplace, blah blah blah, I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. Just like there is an acceptable amount of rat feces in your food, there is an acceptable level of planes blowing up. On a corporate balance sheet, they rationalize the cost of plane and the costs of the lawsuits of your loved ones and that determines how much they will spend on security. That corporate mentality works fine for most things, but for peoples lives it just doesn't cut it.

SeorsaJanuary 14, 2012 10:35 PM

Totally agree that DHS has messed up immigration control and naturalization, made border security much more expensive, pushed costs to states via use of national guard; messed up the FBI from a serious crime fighting tool to an agency that generates fake home grown terrorists; has made the TSA a source of ridicule (wasn't there an agent arrested for assaulting a female passenger yesterday?)

These agencies would work so much better without a giant top layer of bizzaro management above them.

I would be great to see the FBI getting back to fighting actual crime rather than influencing vulnerable people to detonate fake bombs.

ChrisJanuary 16, 2012 11:56 AM

Can we at least get rid of the corn-pone designation "Homeland" and use a better word like "Domestic"?

JonJanuary 16, 2012 4:28 PM

@ Christopher Burg (and others who posted essentially the same comment): "Airplanes and airports themselves are high ticket items that airlines do not wish to replace unless necessary."

That assumes that airlines are run by people who have a long term interest in maintaining and growing the value of the company, and not by people who have a short-term interest in maximising their annual bonus, then leaving at the end of their contract. Recent history has shown that there is no shortage of the later type of CEO.

Scott WeinbergJanuary 16, 2012 9:53 PM

I do not like go through the body scanners. It is completely waste their time. Why they don't get rid of the scanners out of all nations airports. I think it's time to remove all scanner out of airports immediately. No one should put everyone into the scanners. All I can say Enough is enough! The behavior does not change at all. I would eliminate TSA & DHS. There will be no more scanner at security checkpoint. Those passengers who had it rights go through the metal detector and it's right thing to do. Please bring the wand back and do not pat it down at the secondary screening.

Marcus BerglundJanuary 17, 2012 3:47 AM

Here comes a citation from an excellent book. Chapter 12, Kallocain, Karin Boye, 1940.

"Yes, fear. We have developed towards ever stricter supervision, and it has not made us more secure, as we had hoped, but rather more insecure. With our fear grows also our impulse to strike out. Isn't it true that when a beast is threatened and sees no way of escape, it attacks. When fear steals over us there is nothing to do but strike first. It's difficult since we don't even know in which direction to strike. . . . But better attack than be attacked—isn't that an old saying? If one strikes often enough and hard enough perhaps one may save oneself. There is an old joke about a fencer who was so dexterous he managed to keep dry when it rained: he swung his sword against the falling raindrops and prevented them from falling on him. Somewhat in the same manner must we fence, we who happen to be caught in the great fear."

Peter GerdesJanuary 27, 2012 9:22 AM

As far as airlines handling their own security consider the fact that they did a perfectly adequate job before 9/11.

Even including the 9/11 attacks the total risks we ran as a result of attacks against airplanes was far less than the level of risk we are routinely willing to tolerate for a little more convienience while driving. So the tradeoff of more customer service for less airplane security seems like an advantageous one.

IMO the primary reason for airplane security is security theater. It makes people feel safe and deters the casual screwups (e.g. people who don't want to bother checking their gun). It doesn't matter if the airlines will do a worse job with it.

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