Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents get a bad rap for a good reason. It seems they often can't get anything right, and yesterday's bomb scare at LaGuardia Airport in New York City is no different.
The TSA found two objects in a passenger's suitcase that looked like pipe bombs. They asked the passenger, he explained they were for making homeopathic medicine, and they let him go. Then they kept the objects for six long hours before calling the police. Yes, that's right. They took six hours to report a potential bomb threat in a public place.
The TSA says they knew the objects were safe and that they weren't going to explode, but still. These are the same people who detain cancer patients and children for pat-downs.
It seems that whole "super careful" thing only applies some of the time. This whole thing is truly indicative of a larger problem. We desperately need to hire more qualified people to work as TSA agents. In the US, it's a low level job not requiring a degree. In other countries (like Israel), it's actually a higher level job and the screening process is much less physical and much more cerebral.
Rather than grab your "junk," agents in Israel ask you questions and gauge your reaction and they have the safest airports in the world. It's an important distinction, and while I feel for TSA agents -- they take a lot of flak -- I also think they need to be better trained and more professional.
Keeping us safe in the sky isn't a job for bored people who will call the police if you try to argue with them on a search, but will neglect to do so for a pipe bomb threat.
The good news is they found the items and no one was hurt. The bad news is that they violated their own policy in waiting six hours to call the police. The authorities are supposed to be notified any time there is a real threat to security. It's wrong and quite alarming that no one thought to do so.
The fact is, when we get on a plane, we are entrusting our safety in the hands of barely skilled people who know how to manhandle us, but don't know how to call the cops for a bomb? Does this terrify anyone else?
Do you think the TSA needs to hire more skilled workers?
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