• O’Reilly Tonight: Privatize the TSA

      I’ll go on O’Reilly tonight to talk about the ridiculous new flight rules from the TSA.

      Before my last flight, right after Christmas, security officials patted me down. I was wearing shorts. But they patted down my bare legs. There is a lot of “security” that seems pointless. Jet Blue told us that TSA had ordered them to keep all TV's off for the whole flight. Everyone had to stay seated for an hour before takeoff -- without blankets, pillows or personal belongings on their laps. And so on—you’ve heard about the new rules.

      Those rules might help stop a terrorist if he did the exact same thing that Abdulmutallab attempted on Christmas. In reality, I suspect the rules will do nothing but inconvenience millions.

      TSA should not exist. Before 9/11, screening was private — private companies, working for government, did they screening. They weren’t very sophisticated, but they did the job. The small knives the hijackers used were not violations of government rules. Neither were unlocked cockpit doors.

      After 9/11, the Senate voted 100 to 0 for the TSA. Tom Daschle said “you can’t professionalize if you don’t federalize.”

      What nonsense. It’s instinctive to think that the government will step in and do things better, but it NEVER DOES. Private contractors at least have to compete to keep their contracts. You can’t fire the government.

      Israel once had government-run security, but privatized in 1995. Since then there hasn't been a single hijacking.

      Rafi Sela, president of the Israeli transportation consulting group AR Challenges, and a former security consultant with the Ben Gurion International Airport, told me that the US government is taking on too many roles.

      "The problem in America is that from day one the US decided to hold the stick on both sides. Which means it's both the regulator and the operator, which is unheard of in [Israeli] security… [here it] is all done by private contractors.”

      One airport in the U.S. that was still allowed to use private security helps prove the point.

      According to a leaked 2004 TSA report obtained by USA Today, inspectors packed hidden bomb materials in everyday carry-ons to test security. Screeners at Los Angeles International Airport missed about 75% -- but San Francisco screeners, who work for a private company instead of the TSA, missed only 20%.

      In their publicly available report, the TSA concluded that “privately screened airports have met the standard articulated in ATSA that contract screening operations perform at the same level or better than federally screened operations.”

      Again, it’s because you can fire a bad contractor, but you can’t fire the government.

      I think TSA stands for Thousands Standing Around.