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Wed, Apr 20, 2005

Mica: Bring Back Private Airport Screeners

House Aviation Chief Says They'll Do Better Than The TSA

Airports are no more secure today than they were before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. So said Congressman John Mica (R-FL), chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee.

Mica told reporters Tuesday that, after seeing reports from the General Accountability Office and the DHS Inspector General, he would ask President Bush to hand airport screening back into the hands of private industry.

"Three and a half years after those horrific terrorist attacks, there is still a vital need for immediate aviation security improvements," he said, quoted by Reuters.

A lot of the details surrounding the two reports are classified. But Mica told reporters that, in spite of a $20 billion taxpayer investment, in spite of 50,000 screeners who wear government badges and in spite of more than three years worth of chances to get it right, airport screeners simply can't get it right.

"This annual multibillion-dollar system has received its second poor performance report card," Mica said at the news conference.

That assessment was quantified by the General Accountability Office, which earlier in the week said tests involving security contractors at five airports proved the private sector is better at screening than the TSA.

It was a vindication of sorts for the private industry. Prior to 9/11, the airlines ran security at terminals in 429 airports nationwide. Those screeners were blamed for allowing the 9/11 hijackers to board four aircraft and eventually crash them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in southern Pennsylvania. But no one on Capitol Hill has forgotten the events that contributed to the terrorist attacks. Many are asking, if the government isn't going to do this and the airlines have proven they can't, then who will?

FMI: www.tsa.gov

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