Can’t forget the TSA

Chas. H. Yale's forever Devil's auction, U.S. Printing Co., c1899 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

After a couple of weeks with a higher than average number of firearms being found by TSA agents, the period between April 27th and May 3rd, 2012, was quieter.

  • Firearms: 23 - 22 loaded; 1 unloaded
  • 1 artfully concealed prohibited item found at checkpoints

Blogger Bob and the rest of the TSA Blog Team either had a very slow week or exactly the same things were found as last reported, including black plastic dagger, knife in walker and tomahawk.

In Washington DC, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform led by Darrell Issa (R, just up the coast a bit) had some strong words to say about TSA management practices in a report highlighting the agency’s willingness to buy expensive equipment without sufficiently testing its effectiveness.

“Little has changed in the past three years and the systemic flaws continue to plague the TSA. These flaws are exacerbated by a management structure that seems content to throw millions of dollars at untested solutions that are bought in excess and poorly deployed and managed. That is not a security operation, but rather a recipe for disaster.”

In at least one case, the TSA bought (and is paying to store) more screening devices that it needed in order to get a discount, hoping that they would eventually find a use for them.

If you wonder what happens to all the things passengers “voluntarily surrender” before being allowed to board their planes, look no farther than Harrisburg.

There’s some money in this for a cash-strapped state. Pennsylvania has been selling off TSA-collected items since 2004 — total revenue roughly $700,000 — but recently has begun selling the stuff by the lot, at the online government auction site

Exactly how much stuff are we talking about here? No one knows, because no one is keeping track (but Newark Airport alone collects four tons of prohibited items annually).