The Transportation Security Administration is among the least-liked federal government agencies, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.
Conducted December 17-19, the poll found that 25 percent of respondents had an unfavorable opinion of the TSA, putting it on par with the Internal Revenue Service, while 53 percent reported a favorable opinion. And the most frequent complaint, from 31 percent of respondents, was about the security screening process.
Why is no surprise: Passengers say that screeners are all too often rude and hostile, and many don’t even bother complaining because they think it would be useless.
“I am so frustrated with TSA that I am ready to stop flying,” one traveler wrote in a Sept. 7 complaint filed with the agency. “I’m sure this doesn’t matter to you because my tax dollars are already paying you.”
A review of complaints the traveling public lodged with TSA in September helps explain the low standing. While passengers generally understand TSA’s mission, they could do without certain parts of the pre-boarding experience.
Take, for example, a mother and daughter traveling out of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport on Sept. 4. In an e-mailed complaint to TSA, the mother said the TSA screener was rude and inconsiderate. While she was in secondary screening, the mother was made to face away from her daughter. “Someone could have taken my daughter,” the woman wrote. “I understand you have to have security, but your people don’t need to be rude!!!”
On Sept. 3, a man leaving Orlando, Fla., filed a lengthy complaint because he said a screener touched him “like no man ever has ‘ not even my doctor.” “This type of bodily inspection, privately or publicly, is undignified,” he wrote. “Have terrorists succeeded in making us that scared of each other?” — Associated Press
And that’s not even news. Everybody knows the TSA sucks and Kip Hawley is an idiot. What’s news is just how idiotic he still is. The day after the AP reported its poll results, Hawley wrote this internal TSA memo (courtesy Annie Jacobsen):
Date: December 21, 2007
To: All TSA Employees
Subject: 100.0 ‘ Message from Leadership Regarding AP Poll
The Grinch must have gotten loose a little early this year.
In a poll reported by the AP, they showed us down at the bottom of the public’s satisfaction, hanging in there with FEMA and the IRS. The AP further reported on some of the complaints we get at our Contact Center, quoted a few disgruntled passengers, amateur security experts, and wrapped a headline around it to greet the millions of travelers flying home this weekend. Kind of sounds like Thanksgiving.
This morning, my first meeting was with Secretary Chertoff. As soon as he sat down, he expressed his frustration that today, the anniversary of the attack on Pan Am 103 and the height of the holiday travel season, the news coverage is an undeserved poke in the eye given the great work again over Thanksgiving. (Ironically the day also started with a great piece on Good Morning America, live from the TSOC. www.tsa.gov )
Skip ahead to my last meeting of today, a TSOC bridge call about a suspicious incident in Detroit this evening. We had a TSAR in Europe (who had been up all last night on another matter), FAMs, bomb experts, our FSD in Detroit, and high level people from around the Department and TSA. A checked baggage TSO in Detroit identified a truly suspicious item and the situation was immediately contained and resolved with the FBI, CBP, ICE, and TSA working together. Not a ripple for the flying public. No poll numbers on that.
This does not compute: we’re in a high threat environment, the peak travel season, consistent good flow at our checkpoints, and doing the tough job of security on the ground and in the air, around the world – but the news reports on an impromptu popularity poll in which we appear to be unloved. Huh?
Fortunately, people who live for poll ratings don’t work for TSA. — The Aviation Nation
Oh, where to start? How about with that tough job of security? Here’s something else everybody knows. There is exactly one reason we haven’t had another terrorist attack on planes in the U.S. And it has nothing to do with the TSA. It’s simply this: The terrorists aren’t really trying. When they do try, they botch it up so badly that even London’s Metropolitan Police can catch them (when they aren’t out shooting innocent people on the Underground).
Couple this with the fact that you can get just about anything you want through airport security if you try, even real bombs, you have a recipe for disaster. When the bad guys eventually begin using people with IQs warmer than Siberia in January, then we’re going to have another attack on our hands.
What you see in the airport now is called security theater. It’s meant to make you feel safe, even though its actual effect on security is minimal. It’s enough to stop the truly stupid, and the people who merely forget to take off their guns before they go to the airport, but a truly determined, resourceful and smart attacker will get on your plane with anything he wants. Good for us that the terrorists, so far, are only determined. When will that change?
As for the suspicious item, just why isn’t TSA calling a press conference every time they find some “truly suspicious item” in someone’s checked baggage? Could it be that embarrassing? Which one of you left your vibrator turned on when you packed it in your suitcase?
Finally, Kip, that wasn’t the Grinch. It was Santa, bringing you the lump of coal you so richly deserve.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked last in the poll, with 41% holding an unfavorable opinion.