Last week, an Inspector General report revealed that the TSA failed to flag over 70 airport workers with ties to terrorism. Auditors found that, although the TSA employs procedures to check employees for potential red flags, the agency was not using the complete terror watch list in its screenings. Another study revealed last week showed that screeners missed a staggering 95% of fake bombs and other banned items that undercover federal agents attempted to smuggle through security.

Today, a Senate committee played host to TSA whistleblowers who offered testimony that should make any traveler’s skin crawl:

Earlier, Rebecca Roering, an assistant TSA federal security director at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the agency suffers from low morale. She said this is in part the result of agency leadership, composed of too many former commercial airline executives “placing more emphasis on customer service and passenger wait times than on security and detection rates.”

She warned of a culture of “fear and distrust” within the agency, suggesting this prevents the workforce from speaking out. Roering said she expressed concerns about the PreCheck program and was told “I better watch what I said.”

Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth later testified that his office raised similar concerns, but “TSA declined to take our recommendations.”

He also said he has concerns about whether the agency understands the depths of security risks.

“I worry about this,” Roth said.

No system is perfect. Mistakes happen. Et cetera, et cetera—no, stop it. This is just one more example of a bloated, ineffective government agency imposing and expanding at the expense of the time, energy, patience, money, and safety of the American people.

Congressional hearings are a great way to shine light on problems in government, but Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) wants to take things further. He has asked President Obama to declassify all information on the TSA’s failures. Watch:

Sasse has a good point, and it’s something that I don’t think we talk about enough. He mentions that the president has a “moral obligation” to start this conversation about security, for the simple reason that the public has been lead to believe that they are much safer than they actually are.

Think about the last time you went through security at an airport: shoes off, belt off, hairspray confiscated, shuffle through a full body scan…you’re lucky if you make it on your commuter flight from Lansing to Detroit without being groped in public. We have agents literally looking through (and sometimes digging through) our pockets, bags, laptops, phones, bras, hair, and shoes, and it’s still not working.

It’s the illusion of efficacy, much like the bureaucracy in Washington exudes (to the general public, not necessarily to those paying attention to the news cycle) the illusion of common defense. It makes sense to classify information that would give terrorists a “roadmap” to another an attack, but Sasse is right when he says that there’s nothing like public outrage to get our representatives in Washington moving.

Get on the phone, people; I have a feeling we’ve only seen the beginning of what’s really going wrong with the TSA.


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