Charles Edwards, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting inspector general, described the TSA as bureaucratic and dysfunctional. Stephen Lord of the Government Accountability Office, suggested the agency was ignoring the thousands of complaints from air travelers. And Kenneth Dunlap, who represented the International Air Transport Association, criticized the current TSA as expensive, inconsistent, and reactive.
“As this mushrooming agency has spun out of control,” the committee chairman, John Mica, concluded, “passengers have not been well served.”
The congressmen present in the hearing agreed with many of the criticisms, but it’s the solutions that would have sent Pistole running for the exits. On the conservative end, critics recommended aggressively reforming the TSA to create a smaller, more responsive agency that fulfills its mission of protecting and serving air travelers.
But some went much further. Charlie Leocha of the Consumer Travel Alliance, who represented the interests of air travelers on the committee, said the TSA should not just be downsized, but also limited to protecting only air travel (something it currently isn’t).
In his testimony, he described a future TSA that more closely resembled the pre-9/11 security system, which used magnetometers (metal detectors) as its primary screening method, had employees that dressed in non-threatening uniforms, and banned only the most dangerous weapons, such as guns and explosives, from aircraft.