WEB Notes: Who with any dignity would take a job feeling up innocent Americans traveling about the country? TSA agents, who look at men and woman as they pass through naked body scanners. The same agents who stick their hands down little boys pants. Disgusted Mr and Mrs America? You should be, you let this happen. Vote with your pocket, stop flying. To top it off they want to consider giving these goons guns? I don’t think so.
(Politico) – Friday’s slaying of a Transportation Security Administration officer at Los Angeles International Airport is fueling calls from union leaders to give some of the agency’s employees guns, handcuffs and the power to make arrests.
But that would be a tough sell for many conservatives in Congress, where some lawmakers until recently were trying to take away TSA agents’ badges.
The fatal shooting of Gerardo Hernandez and the ensuing gunfight at LAX called attention to a long-running debate over the powers of TSA, whose screeners aren’t considered law enforcement officers even though many of them wear badges. The 39-year-old Hernandez was the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the agency’s history.
Federal prosecutors have filed homicide and other charges against 23-year-old Los Angeles resident Paul Ciancia, whom authorities have suggested was specifically targeting TSA employees.
Both lawmakers and the Obama administration have called for reviewing airport security procedures after the shooting spree. But union officials are already offering a concrete proposal: create a new category of TSA agent in addition to the 45,000 existing screeners. People in the new positions would be law enforcement officers, who could carry handcuffs and firearms as well as make arrests.
Union leaders say the enhanced status would help protect an unfairly demonized workforce, as well as security checkpoints like the one where Friday’s mayhem began.
“We feel a larger and more consistent armed presence in screening areas would be a positive step in improving security for both [security officers] and the flying public,” said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “The development of a new class of TSA officers with law enforcement status would be a logical approach to accomplishing this goal.”
On Friday, union officials initially suggested simply giving every agent arrest powers. But they said Monday that that would be only a half-step.
“Just saying you can arrest somebody, how far is that going to get you?” asked AFGE general counsel David Borer. “The focus needs to be on how do we deliver the right amount of security at the checkpoint.”
But Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), who chairs the House Homeland Security subcommittee that oversees the TSA, told POLITICO in a statement Monday that he opposes arming the TSA’s massive screener workforce.
“There are practical, risk-based steps that can be taken to combat potential attacks without arming 45,000 TSA screeners,” Hudson said. He added: “In the wake of this attack it is of critical importance to review coordination and communication between TSA and local police, whose job it is to protect airports, as well as review TSA’s own programs for detecting and disrupting terrorist attacks.”
Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, the subcommittee’s top Democrat, told POLITICO that he would look at the union’s proposal but was worried about the cost.
Richmond added that any solution should look beyond just keeping airports’ security checkpoints safe.
“What if he just went to the baggage claim?” Richmond said of the gunman. “It has to be broader than just the checkpoint. You want to have a safe place from the parking garage to the airplane.”
Republican lawmakers’ proposals for TSA have often focused on reining in the agency, which they portray as an overbearing force that harasses innocent Americans. As recently as 2011, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill that would have prohibited TSA employees without law enforcement training from using the title of “officer.” It also would have prohibited them from wearing uniforms or badges that resemble those worn by law enforcement. The bill died after attracting 42 Republican co-sponsors. – Politico: Arming TSA officers hits resistance on the Hill