Are there any other government officials that get as much universal disdain as the Transportation and Security Administration? Sure, many of us distrust the police. We mock presidential candidates, point out the stupidity of certain Midwestern politicians, and constantly question
Nanny Mayor Bloomberg. But is there any other agency as hated by everyone as the TSA?
Perhaps it is because they took our toothpaste. Perhaps it's because they smuggle drugs and pat down infants. Now, we can add "fail to warn about possible cancer risks" and "are generally bad at their job" to the list.
In internal audit of Newark Airport's TSA agents, titled "PACE Airport Evaluation" was obtained by the Star-Ledger. The report was prepared by undercover TSA agents from other airports who evaluated the performance of their Newark counterparts. They failed nearly every test by an impressive margin. Among the results were:
- Pat-downs are only properly executed 16.7 percent of the time;
- Appropriate action is taken on prohibited items 25 percent of the time;
- Screeners informed passengers of their right to opt out of the reportedly cancer-causing (and arguably useless) full body "nude" scanners 0 percent of the time (yes, that is a zero, as in no warnings were given whatsoever);
On the other hand, the TSA agents received passing grades on:
- Listening skills (100% score);
- Removed prohibited items found during physical searches (100%);
So, they'll listen to you. And if you set off the "nude" scanner, or they feel that switchblade when they grope you, they'll remove that too. Just don't expect any cancer warnings before the Wizard of Oz examines your naked body.
Let's say the scanners do cause cancer. Or, someone sneaks an item past the 16.7 percent successful pat downs. What's the government's liability for their insecure security?
Traditionally, you could not sue the sovereign. The government (king) is an all-powerful being and if citizens are harmed, too bad. However, with the passage of the Tort Claims Act, the government waived this immunity and allowed themselves to be sued for injuries resulting from the operation of their agencies, officers, and employees. Though some types of lawsuits are still barred, negligence seems to be allowable.
In order to prove a negligence claim, the plaintiff will have to show that the TSA agents' conduct fell below the standard of the reasonable person in their position. The agency's own internal guidelines call for warnings about caner and procedures for pat downs. While perfection might be too much to ask, Newark's stunning failure rate provides pretty strong evidence that their conduct fell below the reasonable security officer.
- Find a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- Secret Report: Newark TSA Agents Use Proper Procedure...16.7% Of The Time! (Gothamist)
- American Airlines Bumps Boy With Down Syndrome Off of Flight (FindLaw's New York Personal Injury Law Blog)
- FAA's Ignoring of Whistleblower Complaints Legally Risky? (FindLaw's New York Personal Injury Law Blog)