GOP lawmakers say nation not safer after decade with TSA

Reps. John Mica (R-Fla.) and Paul Broun (R-Ga.) want to give the Transportation Security Administration a series of drastic reforms for its birthday this week.

Days before the 10th anniversary of the TSA's founding, and also one of the busiest travel periods of the year, the GOP lawmakers took the agency to task Wednesday using a new report titled “A Decade Later: A Call for TSA Reform.”

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"Americans have paid $60 billion funding TSA and they are no safer today than they were before 9/11," Broun said during a news conference at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport announcing the report.

Mica, who wrote the the law that established the TSA in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, agreed. Despite the fact that there have not been any incidents since that day, the TSA has not made flying safer, he said.

"We are safer today, but not because of TSA," Mica said. "It's because the American people will not allow an aircraft to be taken over. We saw on Flight 93, and almost every instance of a successful thwarting since, it's been the passengers, the pilots and the crew."

Mica has pushed in recent years to privatize airport security, but he said Wednesday that the federal government should have a role in protecting the aviation system.

But "no one ever envisioned 4,000 administrative personnel in Washington, D,C. making an average of $103,000," Mica said.

Broun, who has said before that the airport security agency was too worried about "political correctness," was even less charitable.

"Some people say TSA stands for Thousands Standing Around," he said Wednesday. "TSA has not prevented any attacks. We've just been very fortunate."

The report that was released by the lawmakers Wednesday was conducted by the staff of Mica's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Among the recommendations of the report is for TSA to be given "greater independence" within the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees it, and for the TSA administration position to be given "Cabinet-level" priority for future presidents.

Mica said he had Broun were not picking on the TSA because the Nov. 19 anniversary of the agency's founding was approaching. Instead, he said they were trying to find ways to improve airport security.

"We can and we must do better," he said.

As for current TSA Administrator John Pistole, when Mica was asked Wednesday if the current TSA chief was "up to the job," he said only "I've given John every opportunity."

TSA responded to the report that was released by the GOP lawmakers Wednesday by citing specific examples of incidents it had prevented since 2001.

"We know from incidents such as the Christmas Day, 2009 attempted bombing of Northwest flight #253 and the 2010 plot to detonate explosives in cargo on planes that terrorists continue to target the aviation sector," the agency said in a statement that was provided to The Hill. "In the past decade, TSA has developed a highly trained federal workforce that has safely screened over 5 billion passengers and established a multi-layered security system reaching from curb to cockpit.

"Every day we see the effectiveness of these security measures with TSA officers preventing more than a 1,100 guns from being brought onto passenger aircraft this year alone," the agency said.

TSA added that the report was "an unfortunate disservice to the dedicated men and women of TSA who are on the frontlines every day protecting the traveling public," especially coming on the verge of their 10th anniversary.

The full GOP report on TSA can be read here

-This post, which has been updated with new information, was originally posted at 2:01 p.m.