The federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is looking into Sea-Tac Airport screeners' claims of widespread problems, including allegations that one manager accepted money from employees in exchange for helping them win promotions.
A letter and accompanying petition signed by 206 of the 1,100 TSA employees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport called for an investigation into top management, saying that managers have created a culture of "fear and intimidation" that has led to high turnover and has hindered efforts to maintain security.
The employees in mid-December sent the letter and petition to the TSA, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, several federal inspectors general, Washington's congressional delegation and Gov. Gary Locke.
TSA internal-affairs investigators already have been to the airport to look into the manager who allegedly accepted money from employees. Now, field inspectors have been dispatched as a result of the screeners' letter and petition and will begin meeting with employees tomorrow, according to internal memos.
I haven't experienced any of the security follies listed in the article—I always take off my shoes and carefully remove all metal from my person, and the times I have set off the main detectors, the secondary scan (the "pat-down" version with the hand-held detectors) hasn't bothered me at all. It's a necessary part of the entire travel experience: If you want the convenience of flying to your destination, you deal with the inconvenience of the security process.
The process can't work, however, if the screening employees aren't treated with respect by the flying public and by the TSA management. And TSA management must be above question in their ethics and personnel decisions. Employee morale and passenger confidence—and, by extension, the safety of our skies—depend upon it.