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The Almighty Buck Transportation Politics

Congress: The TSA Is Wasting Hundreds of Millions In Taxpayer Dollars 199

TheGift73 writes with a Techdirt story about a House Oversight Committee report that is very critical of the TSA's handling of money. "The House Oversight Committee has come out with a report slamming the TSA for tremendous amounts of waste, specifically in the 'deployment and storage' of its scanning equipment. Basically, it sounds like the TSA likes to go on giant spending sprees, buying up security equipment and then never, ever using it." Earlier this month Rand Paul laid out his plan for dealing with the TSA.
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Congress: The TSA Is Wasting Hundreds of Millions In Taxpayer Dollars

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  • That was Rand Paul. (Score:5, Informative)

    by InvisibleClergy ( 1430277 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:22PM (#39947283)

    That was Rand Paul in that article you linked, by the way. They are not the same person.

    • by PuckSR ( 1073464 )

      Given that Rand Paul frequently lumps so many things that are disconnected together(i.e Fed employees make more than the average American)....I don't think it is too bad that they got him confused with his Dad.

      Note: The error with the Federal Employee comparison is that it would be more apt to compare Federal employment to a large company like 3M(with a large number of professional employees) than to compare it with the entire population of the country which has a high number of minimum wage employees and

      • Yeah, except that both the link he posted and the title of the article clearly say "Rand" instead of "Ron". Anyone with 1/10th a brain would have gotten it right. The Slashdot editors seem to be lacking even that much mental prowess.

      • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @08:03PM (#39948943) Journal

        Federal employees in professional jobs also make more than their private-sector counterparts these days (if you measure total comp, critically pension benefits), is the thing. It used to be that public sector meant lower pay but stable job and short hours, but that just hasn't been the case for a while now.

        Oh well, eventually we'll either make cuts or the government will collapse under its own weight, and either way the comp issue will be corrected.

        • I suspect that has more to do with the private sector getting shittier, than with the public sector getting better. Why not raise private wages and benefits to match or exceed those in the public sector instead?

        • I'm ok with paying federal employees more than the private sector, after all, we want good people who do good work. I'm not sure we're getting our money's worth, though.
    • by morari ( 1080535 )

      All politicians are the same.

  • ..Again. (Score:4, Informative)

    by rykin ( 836525 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:22PM (#39947285)
    Yet another reason why the TSA is useless.
    • Note, the politicians will spin this either way for their own benefit...

      But in the end, TSA's mission was something no one knew how to figure out.

      And much like the Space Program, which had a lot of failures before Apollo, if you don't know what the solution is, it's going to cost a lot. Ask any researcher, it's going to be wasteful and big budget. If TSA knew how to solve it's mission beforehand everything would be peachy: e.g. standard gov't waste.

      Also, that's why Linux is cheap, we knew what needed to be

  • Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:22PM (#39947295)

    The purpose of the body scanners was to make Michael Chertoff very rich.

    And in that goal they have been a smashing success. And they still are.

  • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:23PM (#39947317) Homepage

    I assumed they were wasting billions in taxpayer dollars.

    Hundreds of millions is an improvement.

    • This is just unused capital costs. I'm sure the total loss is far worse.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:29PM (#39947401)

      I've developed a handy guide to determining how much taxpayer money the TSA is wasting.

      Step 1: Determine the total budget of the TSA.

      You are now done.

      • Re:I feel better. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tato (and tato only) ( 525054 ) <> on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @06:02PM (#39947833) Homepage
        You forgot to include the value of the items stolen by TSA employees, and items confiscated because they are alleged security hazards. Also, if you value the time of travelers as anything greater than zero, the needless delays imposed by TSA practices should be included.
        • Re:I feel better. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by atriusofbricia ( 686672 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @06:22PM (#39948059) Journal

          You forgot to include the value of the items stolen by TSA employees, and items confiscated because they are alleged security hazards. Also, if you value the time of travelers as anything greater than zero, the needless delays imposed by TSA practices should be included.

          Don't forget:
          1. Lost value from people who no longer fly due to the TSA
          2. Lost value from International tourism which no longer happens because of the TSA
          3. Lost jobs from damage to the tourism industry
          4. Projects canceled because of all of the above

          And on and on and on and on...
          End the TSA!

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Lost lives as a result of cancer from being subjected to the scanners...

          • Another BIG one!

            All the gasoline burned by those who choose to drive (where possible) instead of fly because of the whole TSA mess in airports.

            Not only a huge additional cost which should enrage those on the Right, for those on the Left concerned about AGW, it's also a huge amount of additional CO2 dumped into the air.

            One would think there should be broad bipartisan support for ending the TSA based on just those two factors alone, never mind that the TSA does almost nothing to actually increase security.


            • Re:I feel better. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @09:15PM (#39949461) Homepage

              The TSA was designed by private interests for the benefit of private interests. Those flying private or charter never need fear. Everyone else, well, ultimately you are the enemy of the 1% and a threat to their existence, a threat that needs to be controlled and taught it's place. You or your family have no right to privacy not of their possessions or of their body. Upon demand you and you family will present themselves naked to be physically molested at will. When the real intent of the TSA is corrupt don't be surprised when the organisation becomes corrupt. Reality want change then demand TSA conduct the same activity for private and charter flights, watch how fast the law changes after that.

          • 2: not just tourism, transits. I take great care never to connect through the U.S. any more.

        • Re:I feel better. (Score:5, Informative)

          by zentigger ( 203922 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @06:26PM (#39948095) Homepage

          actually the value of articles confiscated is not entirely wasted as those articles have founded a flourishing "surplus" industry:


          • Wow, the sites that page links to have some really interesting things for sale—even children! [] Makes for a great new parental threat: "Bratleigh, don't forget, little boys and girls that misbehave at the airport are confiscated by the TSA and auctioned off to meaner parents..."

        • By the way, what happened to the PROPERTY RIGHTS in USA?

          How is it possible that a fucking TSA monkey, that is representative of your chimp government can just steal your fucking private property?

          How the fuck do you all still look at yourselves in the mirror knowing that you didn't throw the fucking turds out of power yet with an armed revolt?

      • by ExploHD ( 888637 )
        Joking or serious, you are right
      • In addition to what tato said, you're also missing opportunity cost.
        Imagine what great and wonderful things could be accomplished if that capital stayed in the hands of its rightful owners (i.e. the taxpayers) where it could be invested or used to buy innovative products and services. Or if the thousands of people, who have died because they'd rather risk the higher fatality rates of the highways than get sexually assaulted at the airport, had lived to be creative and productive.
    • by schlachter ( 862210 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:35PM (#39947481)'s the buying it part that's problematic.

    • You don't seem to realize that one is a subset of the other.

      They still could be wasting billions!

    • Obviously, they need more funding then.
  • Well ... yeah (Score:4, Informative)

    by jxander ( 2605655 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:26PM (#39947359)

    Anyone with a functioning brain should realize that TSA is a giant waste of money, unless you have stock in a nail-clipper supply company.

    Every terror plot that has been averted since 9/11, was averted by passengers. Underwear bomber, shoe bomber, etc... all thwarted by civilians who won't tolerate that shit anymore.

    • bic. bic lighters are making a fucking fortune as a result of the TSA. more disposable and ubiquitous at airports than nail clippers. there are more people who smoke daily than people who happen to need a nail clipper that week.
    • But imagine how bad it would have been if we didn't have the US government protecting us from helping the underwear bomber get on the plane, ignoring that he was on the watch list, and giving him a dud bomb?
    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      TSA is a giant waste of money, unless you have stock in a nail-clipper supply company.

      Oh, the list goes on! The whole industry formed around the idea of providing
      3-oz plastic bottles (took years until something convenient came to the market, btw)
      TSA-approved locks on the luggage
      The water/soda vendors in the airport almost doubled their prices.
      TSA-approved laptop bags that make it easier to flip them open
      All we need now is self-removing shoes.

  • Thank Goodness! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by firewrought ( 36952 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:29PM (#39947403)
    Imagine what a pain travel would be if they used their funding to full efficiency. :O
  • Huh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:31PM (#39947429)

    Harassing me, making me miss my flights, rifling through my belongings, grabbing by genitals, bombarding me with carcinogenic rays, infringing upon my human rights, AND wasting my tax dollars? Now that's where I draw the line!

  • by MrShaggy ( 683273 ) <chris DOT anderson AT hush DOT com> on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:34PM (#39947467) Journal

    RuePaul Rand Paul, they are the same ;)

    • no, RuPaul was at least briefly entertaining
      • Wait, I thought RuPaul, Ron Paul, and Rand Paul were the same guy.

        Oh man, I thought for a while the republicans were going to run a drag queen for the presidential candidate.

        • It might be more entertaining if it was RuPaul running for president.
        • Not even close! Just look at the ears. Besides, Rupaul wears better dresses. :)
        • I'm thinking that'd be an improvement on any candidate in the field. At least it'd stop all this bullshit of outlawing marriages/same-sex unions. Seriously, if you ain't involved in one, why should you care?
  • Well finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:36PM (#39947485)

    Looks like at least someone in Congress has two brain cells to rub together. Or did they just realize that the prevailing political wind was strongly turning against the TSA and that supporting it would look bad come election time? Actually, come to think of it, I don't care: either way, lets hope it goes past "slamming" and turns into "slamming their doors shut".

    • Re:Well finally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:51PM (#39947685) Journal

      Unfortunately, "wasting" in this case doesn't refer to security theatre. The "wasting" that the oversight committee is complaining about here is that the TSA is lots of props for their theatre, but not putting on a performance.

      If the TSA actually used what they bought, regardless of whether that actually made anyone any safer or not, that would entirely satisfy the oversight committee.

      • Unfortunately, "wasting" in this case doesn't refer to security theatre.

        Actually, it does. Buying stuff on the premise that buying and using it will create security and not using it is a form of security theater. (Its a form of security theater directed mostly at Congress rather than travelers, but it is theater nonetheless.)

        If the TSA actually used what they bought, regardless of whether that actually made anyone any safer or not, that would entirely satisfy the oversight committee.

        I don't think the eviden

  • Because after this latest underwear-related threat to our national security, I predict searches will get a LOT more annoying.

    • Now, now. We aren't there yet. But, now all underwear must be checked.
    • Nope. DHS is now worried about body bombs. Basically, surgically implanted bombs where the scar heals. The terrorist waits a year or so before boarding a plane.

      You can't stop something like that unless you X-Ray every man, woman, and child. And they will do it too. Don't doubt me on this!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        my friend's mom's fake tits are the bomb, and there's no scar there either.
      • There are so many ways to get weapons in past that so called 'security' it's insane. Part of the method of doing it is by not walking in with something that has ACME EXPLOSIVES printed on it in large red letters. But seriously, there are many ways for someone good at social engineering, chemistry, long term planning, weapon design, slight of hand, or a few other things to get a potentially lethal weapon in. And by the way, you really only need one of those skills.
        If you have a group of suicide willing sucke
    • by Paracelcus ( 151056 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @06:32PM (#39948155) Journal

      Now what I propose is that I (70) and all other over 65 show up at the airport in a bathrobe and slippers (nothing else) send your belongings ahead via FedEx or UPS, and before entering the screening area, kick off the slippers and take off the bathrobe, REMEMBER, OVER 65 ONLY! Insist on a hand search (I've got some hiding places I want explored)!

  • by arbiter1 ( 1204146 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:38PM (#39947507)
    Congress really should look at themselves on this matter, hundreds of millions is pocket change compared to how much congress has wasted over last 30 years.
  • by lister king of smeg ( 2481612 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:38PM (#39947521)

    "the tsa is wasting hundreds of millions of dollars"

    thank you captain obvious.

  • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

    Congress: The Government Is Wasting Hundreds of Millions In Taxpayer Dollars


  • by Fishbulb ( 32296 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:43PM (#39947579)

    The price for freedom is safety and security.

    The catch, of course, is that safety and security are just illusions anyway. They can be promised to you but never delivered.

    • As in we will sell our freedom for safety and security? Or at least for the illusion of safety and security.

    • I thought the price for freedom was a buck-o-five?

    • No, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance (--Thomas Jefferson []). In that regard, we citizens of America have failed horrendously.

      This is but an interesting sideline, however, since I believe what you were trying to say is that the price of safety and security (or at least, "the appearance of...") is freedom, since we seem to have offered our freedom up wholesale for TSA's security theater.
    • Can we do a reverse transaction then? I'd like to trade my illusory security for my real freedom.

  • Can it really be considered 'wasting' money given that the function of the TSA is to spend money without constructive purpose?

    (Of course it also inconveniences travellers and violates rights, but nothing beats a large government budget for making something look more important than it really is.)

  • ...when the bomb is swallowed and explodes while in the large intestine.

    And yes, as a matter of fact, I *do* think that's funny.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @07:03PM (#39948445)

      You wanna make an absolute terror scene? Roll a carryon sized bag full of explosives into the middle of a TSA line on the day before Thanksgiving in a major airport. It's likely that you will kill a thousand or more people, will be on the news for weeks, and will absolutely freak out anyone who is going to fly somewhere. It's the soft spot of the target. Coordinate a dozen of these one-man wrecking balls to go off within a minute of so of each other, and you can take out not just 4X as many people as on 9/11 with the same number of "hijackers" but shut down the entire air traffic system of the US on the busiest travel day of the year.

      All made possible by the TSA policies and the screening intensity escalation.

      • Some guys tried driving a car full of explosives into Glasgow Airport a few years ago.

        When the "bomb" failed to explode (simply setting the car occupants on fire), a local headbutted one of them to the floor. Official reports he was helping the man stop, drop, and roll.

        This is how you deal with terrorists.
    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      So you're saying we must close Taco Bell for national security?

  • Wasn't the whole POINT of the TSA to waste taxpayer money doing nothing?

    I heard through the grape vine that Homeland Security sends dump-trucks with their offices supplies into the desert at night. You can only use so many post-it notes to write; "#2 in Al Qaeda caught / blowed up!"

    Quick -- someone look busy!

  • The TSA figures that if they can slip a few dollars out of each piece of luggage, they can make up that shortfall in no time. Heck, they might even turn a profit.

  • I suspect that the money is more accurately going from taxpayer's pockets into certain individual's pockets, not blindly wasted.

  • I bet it's still higher than Congress'.
  • The TSA likes to go on giant spending sprees, buying up security equipment and then never, ever using it.

    "Just be thankful you're not getting all the government you're paying for." --Will Rogers

  • If we abolished the TSA what are all the pedophiles and peeping toms going to do with themselves? They'd probably end up getting in trouble. With the TSA they have a 100% legal outlet for their sexual urges and cravings.

    PedoBob's schedule:
    9am-12am: Man the peep booth and exercise the fleshlight [] and anal vibrator.
    1pm-3pm: Fondle little boys' dicks and balls and slide your fingers down their ass crack, pausing for a nice feel up of the anus. Don't forget to enjoy the sensual scalp message. Carefully remember

  • by bhalter80 ( 916317 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @10:45PM (#39950013)
    Every law enforcement agency in the land has learned the value of sensationalizing the war on drugs. Every time they take more than an ounce of pot off a college kid there's on the news talking about what a great bust this was. Given that in the last 11 years passengers en route have subdued no less than 3, people in a position to take down the plane :

    Shoe bomber
    Underwear bomber
    Nutzo pilot on Jet Blue

    Clearly passengers and crew can handle a wide range of threats in the air. During this time TSA has had exactly 0 of these kinds of press conferences regarding stoping a plot AT the airport what value is the TSA adding again?

    On a side note air-charter (14 CFR Part 135) opperators do not have their passengers screened by the TSA, were never required to install bullet proof doors at the cockpit and can and do opperate the same aircraft types that scheduled air cariers opperate.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford