CNN: TSA considers eliminating screening at smaller airports

Is this a good idea? CNN has an exclusive saying the Transportation Security Administration is considering doing away with passenger screenings at smaller airports around the country:

The Transportation Security Administration is considering eliminating passenger screening at more than 150 small and medium-sized airports across the US, according to senior agency officials and internal documents obtained by CNN…

Internal documents from a TSA working group say the proposal to cut screening at small and some medium-sized airports serving aircraft with 60 seats or fewer could bring a “small (non-zero) undesirable increase in risk related to additional adversary opportunity.”…

“This is so dangerous,” a TSA field leader at a large airport said. The individual is not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Two senior TSA officials, who asked not to be identified, expressed serious national security concerns over the proposal. They said the idea was explored as far back as 2011 and has been resurrected. The documents referred to some 150 small airports in addition to some midsize ones. TSA currently screens passengers at 440 airports, according to its website.

The upside to this plan (according to TSA) is that dropping security at these small airports would save just over $100 million a year and some of that money could go into additional security at the larger airports. So you could potentially harden the big targets by softening the smaller ones.

CNN’s own terrorism analyst described the plan as “stunning” and added that ISIS, “still regard aviation as a priority target — that includes aircraft where you have fewer than 60 people on board.” In other words, for purposes of terrorism, an exploding plane with 50 people is probably almost as effective as one with 250. Either way, a lot of people will start wondering if they are safe and that doubt would reduce travel and damage the economy. And that’s not even the worst case scenario.

The whole point of the 9/11 plot wasn’t just to blow up a plane (or four planes) it was to use the planes themselves as weapons against specific targets like the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. That’s still a possibility with a plane that carries 50 people. If a smaller turboprop plane full of fuel flies into the White House or an LA highrise, that’s still a devastating attack even if it’s not nearly as devastating as it could be with a larger plane.

Remember, these are people who are celebrating truck attacks as victories. Why wouldn’t they go for a mid-sized airplane if it seemed feasible? So as much as I’m not a fan of TSA screening, I don’t see how reducing security at smaller airports makes a lot of sense.

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