The Transportation Security Administration’s surveillance program “Quiet Skies” has sparked much controversy and criticism
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The Transportation Security Administration, the agency responsible for safeguarding the traveling public, has reportedly been considering a proposal to eliminate security checkpoints at more than 150 “smaller” U.S. airports. Such a decision could be catastrophic not only to the safety of the nation, but to the vitality of smaller airports like Toledo Express Airport.
Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation, used Toledo as an example recently when describing her issues with TSA’s plan.
“You poor folks from, say, Toledo, Ohio, you only have three regional flights a day,” Ms. Schiavo told the Washington Post. “We’re not going to do any security for you. Would anyone fly from Toledo? Absolutely not. What does it do to Toledo, Ohio? Destroys it. You’ll have no air service. No one’s going to get on a plane without security. It’s not only terrorists, it’s nut cases.”
The Sept. 11 attacks made security a vital concern when dealing with air travel. Ms. Schiavo is right to point out that without security, many prospective travelers might search for a safer option, even if it means paying more or taking a longer trip.
Toledo Express Airport has worked hard to earn back a share of business from the nearby Detroit Metropolitan Airport, one of the largest hubs in the U.S. That hard work has paid off, as Toledo has enjoyed five consecutive years of passenger growth, and the airport has sought new ways to expand its operations.
But the TSA’s proposal could threaten that improvement, and it could threaten the vitality of all similar sized airports around the country.
TSA officials have claimed that the proposed security checkpoint eliminations would only affect 10,000 passengers daily, or approximately 0.5 percent of air travelers.
But don’t the lives of those 10,000 passengers matter just as much as the lives of the 95,000 people who fly through the Detroit airport every day? Why should some Americans be afforded rigorous security and the peace of mind that comes with it, while others are forced to take a comparatively unsecured flight?
Congress should host a series of hearings with officials from TSA to determine a unified and codified set of standards and practices for security in all of the nation’s airports. Everyone should feel safe when traveling through an American airport.
It is possible that TSA’s proposal is a bluff. Some, including Ms. Schiavo, have suggested that the agency is threatening to reduce security at certain airports in effort to drum up outrage and get its funding increased.
That would be cynical indeed. But, whatever the motive, the option of removing TSA from smaller airports is off the table. It is illogical on its face and it is morally offensive. If security is real it is good for all not just the “important.” The federal government’s obligation to protect the citizens is not based on the size or status of the place they live.
The TSA is meant to serve and protect the American people, and Congress is meant to ensure that the TSA does its job for all Americans.
Congress has often been AWOL as regards government oversight in recent years. The security of the nation’s air travelers, in cities medium and small as well as large, is an issue worth its attention.
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