Politics

Former TSA boss: Resentment of agency ‘dangerous to security’

Former Transportation Security Administration Administrator Kip Hawley told The Daily Caller that the threat of terrorism “is not going away” and that widespread public mistrust of TSA agents is “dangerous.”

“The fracture between the common traveller and the people providing the services is broken,” said Hawley, “and I’ve used the term ‘toxic,’ and I think that is dangerous to security when neither side are particularly listening to the other and I think that is what needs to be fixed.”

Hawley was speaking at an event at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., to mark the launch of his new book, “Permanent Emergency,” which was cleared for publication by national security agencies including the FBI and the CIA.

At the event Hawley voiced his support for current TSA Administrator John Pistole. Hawley said that criticisms of the nation’s security apparatus included in his book are systemic, and do not target his successor.

“I’m actually a John Pistole fan,” he quipped.

The TSA has come under attack regularly in the press and from members of Congress. This week alone there have been two high profile news stories of children being subjected to pat downs. The first was of four-year-old Isabella Brademeyer who was accused of having a gun and declared a “high security threat” because she hugged her grandmother in the security line at Wichita Airport in Kansas.

The second was Dana Frank, who was flying through JFK Airport in New York. Dana, seven years old, is handicapped due to Cerebral Palsy and was unable to walk through the scanners without the aid of her crutches and orthotics. Her family was delayed due to the lengthy pat down of their daughter and missed a flight to Florida.

There have also been high profile incidents involving members of Congress who have run afoul of the TSA’s unpopular security procedures. Notably, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul was detained by TSA agents in January for refusing a pat down. Texas Republican Rep. Francisco Canseco claimed this week that he was sexually assaulted by airport agents.

Speaking exclusively to TheDC, Hawley defended the airport security officials.

“I think TSA gets all the abuse for frustration about a system, that was created in 2001 with the full support of both parties of the United States, that no longer works as well as it did in 2001 and needs to be significantly changed and it is not the fault of the officers at the front line who are following their instructions,” he said. “It is the policy that needs to be changed and that is what I argue.”

Videography by Grae Stafford