Before September 11, 2001 the Department of Homeland Security did not exist. Overreaction by our president and legislators created it in an attempt to cover up their failure to protect the American people. The DHS merely duplicates other agencies such as the Department of Immigration and Naturalization, The CIA, the FBI, FEMA, and others. The exception is the Transportation Security Agency, or TSA. Those in Washington claim that if funding for the DHS is not secured by Friday that none of the critical departments will shut down; the employees simply won’t be paid. Does our nation need the DHS? Definitely not.
The only agency not duplicated by the DHS is the TSA. The TSA is inefficient, and too expensive. Our nation could save tens of millions of dollars by contracting airport security to private enterprise. It began that way; it should have remained that way.
I was employed by an airline in Los Angeles between 1967 and 1977. Airplanes all over the world were being hijacked for various reasons from demands to release political prisoners to the most common reason for crime; money. They had become so numerous that by 1970 plain-clothed Air Marshals were placed on domestic flights. Additional Marshals were situated in the terminals. Agents for the airlines such as myself were trained to ‘profile’ prospective passengers. Metal detectors were positioned at all exit doors through which passengers boarded the aircraft. It was efficient. The procedures helped us prevent at least one ‘skyjacking.’ A non-Caucasian man who was between the ages of 20 and 45 had purchased a one-way ticket for cash. As he approached the metal detector, the Marshalls had been summoned. Inside of a large book he carried was a handgun. A space to fit the weapon had been hollowed out between the covers.
The next step was in 1972. Ten foot high walls separated passengers from the gates. All carryon luggage, including handbags were searched by hand; it was very effective. A private security company performed the searches.
After Pan Am flight 103 was blown up by a bomb placed in a cassette player in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the FAA began X-raying all luggage. The lives of 259 people were lost.
The TSA became a reality in November 2001 immediately after the attacks of 9/11. And although hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent training agents, the agency continues to fail tests.
Here we are just three days before the DHS loses its funding. The debate between the two failed political parties has nothing to do with security. The issue is an amendment funding the President’s executive order to establish a path to legal residence for nearly five million illegal residents which is attached to the legislation. These individuals are mothers and fathers who came here illegally, but who had children in our nation which makes them legal residents.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has continually failed as a major figure in the Senate, but he believes he has the answer. He will resubmit two bills; one which would fund the DHS, and another which would specifically defund the President’s executive order.
Here is where our broken government proves it has failed the American people. Although the DHS is superfluous, we’re stuck with it. Washington never removes any agency once established and the taxpayer’s money continues to be wasted.
While Republicans continue to pass legislation which is a one-way proposition, they fail to have new ideas or actual solutions. And as for Democrats; simply put, they have no cojones.
Commentary by James Turnage