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    Airport screening officially sucks, again

    Since I would prefer to keep my blood pressure in the healthy range, it’s probably just as well that the new federal reports on the efficacy of airport screening are not available in all their depressing detail.

    The Florida Republican said he would ask the Bush administration and Congress to hand the function back to the private sector, which would be overseen by homeland security officials.

    “This annual multibillion-dollar system has received its second poor performance report card,” Mica said.

    Details of the two reports are classified but Mica described a system — which he helped create even though he opposed it — as inefficient and struggling despite a $20 billion investment at 429 commercial airports.

    The Transportation Security Administration oversees nearly 50,000 screeners.

    The homeland security report, parts of which were publicly released, noted screeners performed no better in covert tests after a stinging assessment last year on failures to detect prohibited items at airport security checkpoints.

    And now they’re supposed to be making sure luggage is purged of every last lighter, among other things. Those who fear that the system may actually be re-privatized can probably rest easy, though:

    Democrat Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the former ranking member of the aviation subcommittee, sharply criticized TSA. But he said it would be a mistake to return to private screening and doubted Congress would agree to do so.

    “It’s time we give screeners 21st century tools to combat 21st century threats,” DeFazio said.

    Uh-huh. I predict a bipartisan vote to give the screening agency lots of money for new procedures and equipment. Perhaps they’ll revamp training to enable screeners to identify big, scary knives without assistance.

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