The Transportation Security Administration, the folks who brought you the nude airport scanners and public pat-downs that critics likened to sexual assault, have another stunning “success” to their credit, according to a federal report.
The Government Accountability Office has released a report that says a program to train dogs to screen passengers hasn’t been adequately tested and secret videos show the dogs are failing to detect explosives at test airports.
Each dog team has cost taxpayers an estimated $164,000, the report said.
“As part of our review,” the GAO reported, “we visited two airports at which [dog] teams have been deployed and observed training exercises in which … teams accurately detected explosives odor (i.e., positive response), failed to detect explosives odor (i.e., miss) and falsely detected explosives odor (i.e., non-productive response).”
According to an ABC report on the controversy, the TSA isn’t taking down enough information to know whether any of the dogs are able to respond correctly or not.
The report said the TSA is using the Miami and Oklahoma City airports to test the dogs, and TSA agents are going to be setting up more testing at Dulles airport.
The idea is that eventually they are supposed to be deployed nationwide.
ABC said the TSA released a statement about the evaluation, and said the agency knows more data is needed.
“To that end, the National Canine Program (NCP) will reestablish annual comprehensive assessments. Beginning in March 2013, TSA plans to expand the canine website to improve functionality and reporting capabilities addressing a GAO recommendation.”
The report said the cost of keeping bomb-sniffing dogs on the government’s payroll has almost doubled over 24 months, topping out at $100 million.
“Each TSA dog team costs the taxpayers $164,000 a year,” the report said.
However, it isn’t even a big boondoggle for the agency.
WND reported recently that its beleaguered $420 million Transportation Worker Identification Credential program, known by the initials TWIC, was dealt a serious blow with a determination by the Department of Defense that it doesn’t meet DoD standards, and won’t be recognized for department purposes.
The U.S. Department of the Army issued a Federal Register notice that the TWIC card will no longer be used to authenticate users for access to certain Department of Defense computer systems.
In part, the notice states:
“The DoD PKI [Public Key Infrastructure] office has determined that the Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC) PKI certificate cannot be used to authenticate users for access to DoD systems. The DoD PKI office has not established a trust relationship with Homeland Security/TSA.
“Starting January 29, 2013, TWIC certificates cannot be accepted by ETA [Electronic Transportation Acquisition] … All current TWIC holders accessing an application within ETA will need to purchase an External Certificate Authority (ECA) prior to January 29, 2013. ”
The register entry essentially says that the TWIC program cannot be used to authenticate users for access to DoD computer systems and networks. The Department of Defense will require additional credentials of TWIC holders, who need access to certain defense computer networks starting at the end of the month.
The TWIC program was started as a joint initiative between Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Coast Guard. The purpose of the program is to provide a biometric credential to workers who need to enter “secure areas” of port facilities and vessels that fall under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.
Under the program, access to these areas is still allowed to those individuals, but they have to be escorted by someone currently holding a valid card. Individuals without those valid cards have to be kept within sight at all times.
TSA has spent $420 million on TWIC, and it has been estimated that the federal government and private sector may spend as much as $3.2 billion on TWIC during the next 10 years, not including the card readers themselves.
More than 1.9 million U.S. workers have enrolled in the TWIC program with a cost of $132.50 per enrollment.
Even more expensive has been the full-body scanners “designed to examine the contours of an air traveler stripped naked.”
The $2 billion effort is getting reversed this year with word that the machines revealing intimate contours of a passengers’ bodies are being pulled and replaced with machines that portray passengers as a more stick-figure like silhouette.
Those earlier machines generated a wide range of reactions, especially with the Internet available for people to see the government’s miscues. For example, Sen. Rand Paul has advocated the discontinuance of the program, and his father, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, before he left Washington suggested changes in the law so that screeners are “not immune from any U.S. law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person.”
TSA workers made the Web with their detention of a woman over her “attitude” and their pat-downs of a 7-year-old with cerebral palsy and a hysterical 4-year-old.
They even were the subject of a parody of the popular country song, “Help Me Make It Through the Night”:
It was done by Grammy-winning musician Steve Vaus, creator of the Buck Howdy character.
Steve Vaus has performed, produced and recorded with Billy Ray Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Willie Nelson, Kenny Loggins, Leann Rimes, Randy Travis and Kenny Rogers; he’s a four-time Grammy nominee (with a win in 2010) and has performed with the Billy Graham Crusades, at the Grand Ole Opry and at the White House.
His satirical look at the government’s decision to impose invasive body-scans and full-body patdowns on airline travelers: