The weekly TSA report

Parade de Cirque (Circus Sideshow), 1887-88. Georges Seurat, French (Metropolitan Museum)

Here is what’s on the TSA’s list of accomplishments for the period between January 30th and February 5th, 2012.

  • 1 artfully concealed prohibited item found at checkpoints
  • 17 firearms found at checkpoints
  • 0 passengers arrested after investigation of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents*

TSA, part of the Department of Homeland Security, has a current year budget of about $7.85 billion, up $153 million from the previous year. About $2.3 billion will be offset by fees such as the aviation security fee.

The base funding of roughly $5.5 billion provided $4.1 billion for screening operations with $543 million specifically funding explosives detection systems. It also funded about $205 million for checkpoint support and $1.1 billion for aviation security direction and enforcement.

In their December issue, Vanity Fair had a story called “Smoke Screening” which introduced me to Bruce Schneier who blogs about security here and he links to this story about a(nother) TSA show of incompetence late last month.

All that money spent on TSA and a list like the one above** is all they have to show for processing about 1.7 million passengers a day? How small would your town have to be for the sheriff to run for re-election claiming to be in the middle of fighting a crime wave and using numbers like that?

When I go to the theater, I expect a comfortable seat and good performances.

* Since they don’t claim to have arrested anyone for suspicious behavior that week, I guess having a firearm with you doesn’t count.

** I understand that this undoubtedly isn’t a comprehensive accounting of what they did and that some unfortunate TSA employee is tasked with updating the list weekly, but it’s what they chose to display on their homepage to make us feel safer.