The TSA may be the least-loved government agency out of a large pool of little-loved agencies, but it could be even worse. In fact, it was absolutely terrible prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Back then private rent-a-cop agencies associated with cronies of local politicians low-balled one another until the cheapest one won the contract to handle security. Wages were terrible, job security was non-existent, and there was no centralized database of possibly dangerous passengers.

In the rush to find a way to improve the TSA — which does need improvement — lots of people with short-term memories harken back to the good old days of September 10, 2001 when the private sector kept Americans safe. Except it didn’t. For its 2012 party platform, the GOP has proposed turning airport security back over to the people who failed so dramatically the last time.

Bloomberg writes:

The Republican National Convention adopted a 2012 party platform that proposes turning many of the functions of the Transportation Security Administration over to private businesses to provide security at airports throughout the U.S.

Frommers.com reminded us last year:

In 2001, airport security paid less than the starting salaries at airport fast-food restaurants. In 1987, security screeners allowed 20% of dangerous objects to pass through checkpoints, and their performance had actually gotten worse by 2001, General Accounting Office official Gerald Dillingham said then.

Argenbright Security, which ran screening operations at 46 of the nation’s busiest airports in 2001, had been convicted in federal court of hiring felons as security screeners; that year, the DOT found it still employed 37 people with outstanding arrest warrants. According to the TSA, federalizing airport security has lowered worker turnover from 125% per year to 6.4%.

Tags: security, tsa