TSA security chief removed from his position

We recently talked about the pledge from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to shorten the horrendously long lines many of you are currently dealing with at the nation’s airports. Perhaps that’s one factor which led to yesterday’s announcement that the agency’s chief of security operations, Kelly Hoggan, was being removed from his position. Hoggan had held this post since 2013. (Fox News)

The Transportation Security Administration’s head of security operations was removed from his post Monday, law enforcement sources told Fox News.

The departure of Kelly Hoggan was one of a series of shakeups at the agency amid a furor over growing security delays at American airports…

TSA administrator Peter Neffenger announced Darby LaJoye, former head of security operations at Los Angeles International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, as Hoggan’s replacement effective immediately, according to the email obtained by Fox News.

In addition to unhappiness over the long waiting lines (or perhaps as a response to it) much of the focus on Hoggan seems to be the fact that he received nearly $100K in bonuses over a thirteen month period while the agency was plagued with problems, and long lines were only a drop in the bucket. (The Hill)

Hoggan came under fire during an Oversight hearing for receiving a $90,000 bonus, which was paid in small increments over a 13-month period, despite a damning report that showed that screeners he oversaw were failing to detect fake bombs and weapons during security tests.

The agency has been scrambling to alleviate overwhelmed security lines and increased wait times at airports around the country.

The House Oversight Committee tweeted a breakdown of the bonuses that Hoggan received during this period and it’s a pretty sweet deal.


This seems to be one of those cases where the shiny object is distracting us from the underlying issue. Sure, it’s rather obscene that someone is collecting bonuses in excess of half of their base salary while the department they oversee is failing so miserably, but there’s more to the failures than just long lines at Reagan International. In fact, I’d wager that at least some of you wouldn’t mind waiting in those lines quite so much if there was any proof that the system was working and you were truly being kept safe. But the fact is that extensive internal testing revealed just last summer that the TSA was failing to find hidden guns and inert “bombs” in 67 our of 70 test runs. That’s not to say that at least some terrorists aren’t put off by the sight of the screeners and heavy security presence, but when your failure rate is running above 90% you don’t exactly inspire much confidence in the traveling public.

Hoggan wasn’t actually fired, by the way. He was transferred, though the agency isn’t saying where his next job will be. Nor do I expect this to suddenly cure everything ailing the TSA at present. I doubt Hoggan was the root of all evil because it’s the system itself which is failing, not one individual who was put in charge. But if nothing else, this move might make them think twice about the serious nature of the challenges the TSA is facing and get some smart people on the trail of actual solutions.