TSA’s answer to mismanagement: shuffle chairs


TSA Logo parody: Will Imhoite. But TSA is beyond parody.

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.

via Air marshals to be reorganized amid internal problems.

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.

Abdulmutallab looks sad because he's going to be the girl in prison, for anatomical reasons. Stopped by passengers, credit stolen by TSA

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!

2 thoughts on “TSA’s answer to mismanagement: shuffle chairs

  1. Bill Fisher

    There seems to a pattern of abuse against these groups within TSA. Most recently screeners in DFW were exposed for sending women through the scanners multiple times to repeatedly view the naked image. Prior to that there was the strip search of three women in JFK. And the list of sexual harassment, racial profiling and other TSA abuses extends back many years.

    Bray says there is no evidence of discrimination? In 2010 CNN discovered that Florida TSA supervisors used a crew assignment board to ridicule and keep score on women, gays and minorities. The “Jeopardy,” board used categories such as “pickle smokers,” “our gang” and “creatures,” which sources said were names used by managers for gay men, African-Americans and lesbians.

    The ridiculous misconduct by so many TSA workers demonstrates the lack of adequate hiring standards at the agency and does nothing to improve airline security. TSA and its workers are a disgrace and need to be replaced with a system that actually works.

    TSA Crimes & Abuses

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