Former Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern is calling for the Transportation Security Administration and the entire Homeland Security Department to be eliminated.
McGovern, who was a senator from South Dakota before he was the Democratic Party's nominee in 1972, said in his new book What It Means to be a Democrat that current airport security procedures were "ridiculous."
Republicans in Congress have harshly criticized TSA, with some like House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) calling for airport security to be privatized. McGovern, who lost the presidential election in a landslide to Richard Nixon in a campaign he ran on an anti-Vietnam War platform, agreed that the agency's procedures were ineffective.
"The whole silliness of our response is exemplified by what has happened at our airports," he wrote. "Once sources of architectural pride, air terminals are now barricaded behind concrete. Inside we are required to remove our shoes and belts, hand over our gels and liquids and submit to body scans — with the ante being raised each time there's a new scare.
"What upsets me the most is when I see an elderly woman trying her dardedest to comply with these ridiculous rules. As if she could possibility harboring an explosive in her suitcase," he continued. "Now that our initial distress over 9/11 has dissipated, I suggest that we stop this needless hassle, a palliative that costs $7 billion a year and rising."
"To my mind, in fact, the entire Homeland Security department — with its more than 200,000 employees and more than $42 billion budget — ought to be dissolved," he wrote. "The third largest Cabinet department, it sprang from 9/11's shock waves to put the agencies that deal with counterterrorism, including airport safety, under one roof. "
"I believe we should leave the business of protecting the American public from terrorist attacks to the FBI, the CIA and our police departments," McGovern continued. "The FBI has a vibrant counterterrorism branch but somehow manages to stay independent."