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CNN: TSA shuts door on private airport screening program


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Washington (CNN) -- A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was "neutral" on the program.

TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.

Though little known, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms, meet TSA standards and work under TSA oversight. Among the airports that have "opted out" of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City.

The push to "opt out" gained attention in December amid the fury over the TSA's enhanced pat downs, which some travelers called intrusive.

Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Florida, wrote a letter encouraging airports to privatize their airport screeners, saying they would be more responsive to the public.

At that time, the TSA said it neither endorsed nor opposed private screening.

"If airports chose this route, we are going to work with them to do it," a TSA spokesman said in late December.

But on Friday, the TSA denied an application by Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri to privatize its checkpoint workforce, and in a statement, Pistole indicated other applications likewise will be denied.

---------- Post added January-29th-2011 at 03:44 PM ----------

I think this is BS. TSA see's their role going away and they don't want to be reduced to a much smaller agency. Time for them to go.

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Far as I can tell, those 17 year olds are not trained for anything else.

Do you have any information on the subject to indicate otherwise?

Actually I have plenty of information to indicate otherwise. The SCREENERS, sure that is just what they are trained to do, but there are plenty of other positions in the TSA whose roles are vital to the nation's security. Did you know that the Federal Air Marshalls are TSA or that the TSA has a 24/7 watch. TSA also has a large number of intelligene analyst poitions that monitor activity on every form of transpotation. S yes the TSA's role isn't just pat downs and airport screening.

The TSA gets a bad reputation because of the screeners, but in all reality the screeners are just the individuals in the public eye and they are simply carrying out orders.

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I went through SFO recently and it wasn't a bad experience. Instead of caring only half, it seemed like they were friendlier and cared about 3/4ths of what they were doing; and they were taking survey's. Instead of TSA on their shoulder-badges (I don't know the right name) they had "CAS". The most striking difference. When going through TSA screening they have some guy/gal just bellowing out every minute, "take your belts and jackets off, empty your pockets, and take off your shoes!" kind've like a town cryer. Or if they notice someone hasn't done so instead of politely singling out the person they'll yell it out to no-one. When I went through the private screening they acknowledged me and personally spoke to me, asking if I had a computer in my laptop or if I was wearing a belt. That was enough to make TSA look so bad... but the way I figure it, these people would be the same type of people working whether its TSA or a private contractor doing it.

Last time I flew I got my first pat-down (not at SFO, at my origin). Seems like they set up the full-body scanners, and the non-full-body scanners, and if you go through the non-full-body scanner they are patting down some frequency of traveler. I was debating whether to risk getting cancer, or the pat-down; after going through the pat-down I'd say it wasn't bad and I'd do it again... although there's few people who want to feel me up.

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Don't really care who does it but it's extremely annoying that in the US authority of any sort, especially law enforcement, means never being polite. TSA screeners have a job to do, I get that, but do they have to be *******s? Is that part of the job? Of course not but asking someone with the power to put anyone they want in the little back room of trouble to be nice is apparently asking too much. They wouldn't have an image problem even with all the intrusions they claim are necessary if they insisted on a standard of conduct that didn't put everyone immediately on the defensive.

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