The TSA, America’s most incompetent organization, won the lotto (and a billion dollar budget line) when it took control of the Federal Air Marshals Service. The pistol-packing professional passengers have, since, been subjected to the kind of brainiac management you expect from their mouth-breathing peeping-and-groping TSA brethren.
But one thing is exactly the same, from the bomber-target security lines to the pervs and the pervs an the pervs and the pervs, to the thieves and the thieves and the thieves and the thieves and the thieves, to 35,000 feet: none of the guilty will be held accountable by TSA (all those pervs and thieves — and we could have gone on and on for dozens of pervs and hundreds of thieves — were caught by someone else. If the TSA catches them, they walk without punishment or even a bad employment reference). It’s the federal government, folks:
A TSA inspector general’s report last month said some managers have created a hostile work environment for air marshals ….
The report also said the air marshals’ management did not cooperate well within the organization and found a lack of compliance with directions from their headquarters.
“There is a great deal of tension, mistrust and dislike between non-supervisory and supervisory personnel in field offices around the country,” the report said.
The managers apparently particularly dislike veterans. Noted. I guess it eats away at a guy to know he’s not an action guy, and his actual action guys (that he doesn’t like either) have spent most of the war relaxing in First Class on the taxpayer tab, while the people who actually do something about terrorism do their commute in the red nylon troop seats of a drafty C-17.
But we digress. Back on point: if you were the CEO of IBM or Ford, and you got a report like that about one of your plants or divisions from, say, McKinsey consulting, you’d have your HR VP on the line and you’d begin lopping off heads, in employment terms. There would be consequences. But this is the Federal Air Marshals Service, which is part of the Transportation Security Administration, which is part of the immense Department of Homeland Security, which is a Cabinet agency in the US Governnment. And if any of those organizations stands for anything at all, it’s this: mess up and move up.
The IG report shied away from making the obvious suggestion (i.e., the heads of the miscreants should roll, and their superiors should bear the commander’s responsibility for what his organization did or failed to do) and the reorg plan duly fails to hold any of the bad actors accountable… it just shuffles them around in pointless lateral moves, so they can be promoted on schedule later.
The one essential thing to understand about the TSA is that no one in it, at any level, is competent at anything. Their nonstop serial mismanagement of the FAMS is something the public seldom hears about (but those tapped in to the Federal agent community and the security community definitely do).
One very hilarious thing is that one Robert Bray, the incompetent, dishonest, SES stumblebum who appeared before Congress to defend TSA’s off-point reaction to the IG report, had no problem thinking of an example of a TSA/FAMS success:
He mentioned the December 25, 2009 Al-Qaeda attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound flight by the so-called “underwear bomber” as an example of the ongoing need for the air marshals’ vigilance. The accused bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday.
Of course, Abdulmutallab, the legendary Ballsack Bomber (for the surgical reconstruction of which detonated anatomical feature you, the taxpayer, have paid. You’re so altruistic!) was not captured or stopped by an Air Marshal. Despite the explosive growth of the Service since 9/11, there’s never a sky cop around when you need one. Instead, the would-be Moslem murderer was beaten up and subdued by a couple of flight attendants and passengers. Since 9/11, every passenger is part of the active resistance to hijackings, and terrorists have failed at attempt after attempt for that reason.
This is not to say we can’t use a competent FAMS. But we can’t use a billion-dollar boondoggle where managers despise their line troopies and never miss a shot at rubbing it in.
If anybody’s serious about improving the FAMS, I can save the first quarter million with one stroke: fire Dishonest Bob Bray, and don’t replace him. Apart from the direct benefits of getting rid of this liar, consider the pour encourager les aûtres angle.
And to Mr Mutallab, we have these words of condolence: sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.
Image: Will Imhoite’s entry in Bruce Schneier’s TSA Logo contest. Collect ‘em all!