Searching Examination


According to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, airport screeners still Need Improvement. That will not come as a surprise to anyone who travels, but some of the details, as reported by A.P., are still disturbing:

-Screeners didn't receive enough hands-on practice using machines for screening checked baggage, partly because of limited access to practice equipment.

-Screeners weren't taught some basic skills they need to do their jobs, such as handling dangerous weapons and objects, repacking bags after searches, reading airline tickets and recognizing identification for travelers who claim they can bring weapons onto aircraft.

-Screeners aren't tested on when they should pat down passengers and what the passengers' legal rights are.

-Screeners aren't tested on or trained how to physically search animals and their cages for weapons and bombs.

Animals can be tricky, I'll grant you. I know our cat Cinnamon, for one, would not sit still for a full-body cavity search. But reading airline tickets? Repacking bags after searches? How much training do those tasks require?

Jim Bovard reviewed the Transportation Security Administration's problems in the February issue of Reason. It sounds like things have not improved much, although at least screeners no longer get a sneak preview of their tests (not officially, anyway).