Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another TSA Update: Sex Offenders and Lists

Say, uh, TSA, is it possible that y'all have some sex offenders among your ranks?  Survey says: YES! (Source:
TSA employees with faulty criminal background checks
The TSA serves a very important and vital role in airline security, and all of their employees are required to pass security and background checks. However, those checks in the past have been less than thorough. For example, in 2004, the Department of Homeland Security (which includes TSA) released a report that stated that TSA had allowed some screeners to perform their duties before their criminal background checks were complete, and allowed others to continue working while problems with their background checks were resolved. Even if this problem no longer exists for current applicants and employees, a more serious problem may be that the current system of background checks may have allowed those convicted of rape and other sexually based offenses to join TSA.

Are current TSA background checks too limited?
The 2004 DHS report stated that federal regulations (49 CFR. § 1542.209) specified were 28 kinds of felony convictions that would have disqualified an applicant for a TSA screener position, including rapes or crimes involving aggravated sexual abuse, but only if those convictions had occurred in the previous 10 years. It implies that a person convicted of rape, attempted, child molestation, or similar crimes may not be required to report such convictions during their background check and may be allowed to perform pat-down searches on passengers.

It is unclear if TSA has changed its background check requirements since 2004 to exclude any convicted sex offenders from working directly with passengers. However, the fact that in the past it may have been possible that someone with that kind of criminal past may be a TSA screener may concern most passengers.

Are convicted rapists performing pat-down searches?
The full details of the the TSA's process for reviewing current and potential employees is not available to the public. Whatever those procedures are, a reasonable passenger would agree that anyone who has been found guilty of any crime that involves rape or some similar criminal act should not be allowed to search passengers. If the TSA could publicly address the following questions, it may go a long way toward reducing the public's concern over the new pat-down procedures:
  • Are there any current TSA employees who are convicted sex offenders (either for a felony or lesser crime, either as an adult of juvenile), even if the conviction occurred more than 10 years before joining TSA?
  • If the answer to the first question is yes, are any of these employees acting as security screeners who have have to have direct physical contact with the flying public?
  • If the answer to the first question is no, have all TSA employees, as part of their background check, been asked if they have been convicted of rape or some other sexually based crime, whether it were a felony or lesser crime, either as an adult or as a juvenile, even if the conviction occurred more than 10 years before joining TSA?
  • If the first question can't be answered for a TSA employee because of inadequate information, would this employee be restricted from working in a position that involves direct physical contact with the flying public?
  • Are TSA security screeners who are convicted of rape or another sexually based crime, no matter how minor, immediately removed from any position where they may have physical contact with the traveling public?

Unless the TSA is both willing and able to answer these and similar questions, the average traveler may be very reluctant to submit to invasive searches where TSA security officers have to physically touch them in sensitive areas, making it more difficult for the TSA to accomplish its security mission.
WAY too many unanswered questions here...and the very fact that we have to ask these questions ought to signal to these bureaucrats that they have a very serious public relations disaster of biblical proportions on their hands.

Speaking of too many questions, Big Government has something that will be keeping me up at night thinking...
On the other hand, one wonders whether their goal is less about security and more about information.  Don’t step willingly into the X-ray scanner?  You go on a list.  Opt-out of the groping?  You go on a list.  Protest?  You’re on the list.  The TSA may not be profiling terrorists, but are they creating a database about Americans who protest the TSA?
Naw, the Obama administration, which has promised to be the most open and transparent administration, would possibly do something like this...oh, wait...
We're all screwed...