TSA ‘Privatizers’ Reveal the Way Washington Works

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As I wrote yesterday, the surest way to head off a genuine popular movement that may threaten government control is to claim the position as its head and either turn it in a less threatening direction or slow it down. To control the limits of debate. To tap the energy of a groundswell and channel it to one’s advantage.

That is why we now see the politicians who created the TSA assuming the leadership position in the anti-TSA tsunami — just when it appears that enough pressure is building to result in real change at the airports. A trip behind the scenes in this case is revealing and should be a wake-up call to anyone who still believes that Washington can provide solutions to the problems it creates.

As the AP reported yesterday:

For Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida, the way to make travelers feel more comfortable would be to kick TSA employees out of their posts at the ends of the snaking security lines. This month, he wrote letters to nation’s 100 busiest airports asking that they request private security guards instead.

Gee, that sounds great! He’s seen the light, mended his ways, and is now going to be a champion of both the people and the free market! Hey, hang on a minute:

Companies that could gain business if airports heed Mica’s call have helped fill his campaign coffers. In the past 13 years, Mica has received almost $81,000 in campaign donations from political action committees and executives connected to some of the private contractors already at 16 U.S. airports.

Well, that sounds fishy, but hey, if we can get rid of the TSA and go back to sanity at the airports we might overlook the fact that the congressman’s high-powered donors are going to make a killing off of this change. But HANG ON a minute:

Private contractors are not a cure-all for passengers aggrieved about taking off their shoes for security checks, passing through full-body scanners or getting hand-frisked. For example, contractors must follow all TSA-mandated security procedures, including hand patdowns when necessary.

And to top it off, in case anyone still thought the “privatization” solution still held any hope for improvement:

TSA officials would select and pay the contractors who run airport security.

What? You mean the congressman will be able to reward his biggest campaign contributors, who will simply hire the TSA screeners who were let go in the phony privatization, who will be in turn paid by the very same TSA they used to work for and be mandated to conduct the very same kinds of intrusive searches and scans they did previously? This will be the people’s victory? Of course that is how the press will report it. People will feel satisfied that they have achieved something. And the next genital grope or porno scan will be done with a corporate-mandated smile and a “have a nice day” tacked on at the end.

(Thanks to AD additional info)

7:28 am on November 20, 2010