The TSA should be known as the Keystone Kops. They prevent blue-haired grandmas, babies in diapers, and quadriplegics from boarding an airplane until they have first been irradiated and fondled, but they can't seem to stop dangerous people from becoming the pilots on those planes. If you find yourself flying into the Empire State Building or the Golden Gate Bridge, you probably have the TSA to thank.
Anybody remember 9-11? Nineteen jihadists, four teams and one terrorist with pilot training in America in each of the four teams. The government ran around like chickens with their heads cut off, and promised us that with the old agencies, new agencies, middle-aged agencies, and the Homeland Security super-agency, this would not be allowed to happen again. They lied.
Hiding in plain sight in Boston, twenty-five illegal aliens were being trained as pilots at a school run by, wait for it, an illegal alien. Six of the illegals have already received their pilot's licenses. And once again, it was only a fluke that brought the matter to light. Did the TSA conduct a check on American flight schools and discover the covert operation? Nope. The owner of the school was stopped for a traffic violation, and a routine background check showed him to be in the United States illegally. Still, nothing might have been done had not one person in the General Accounting Office reviewing licenses and payments for permits found what the police had already found. Only then did the TSA become involved.
Stephen Lord, the GAO's director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues testified before the House Homeland Security Committee this week. He was asked the following question: “Isn't it true that, based on your report, the Transportation Security Administration cannot assure the American people that foreign terrorists are not in this country, learning how to fly airplanes? Yes or no. Lord's answer was that at this time it cannot.
The illegal alien who owns the flight school was allowed to apply for and run a flight school without the required TSA security threat assessment. But he still managed to get two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot certificates. Under the laws developed after 9-11, such certificates are supposed to be submitted to the TSA routinely for review. Someone dropped the ball. Under the Alien Flight Student Program (AFS), foreign nationals are supposed to be subjected to a TSA security threat assessment prior to receiving any flight training at all. Remember that of the four 9-11 pilots, only one had any training at all in landing a large aircraft, but nobody at the time found that odd.
After making this find, the GAO starting look into the problem as a whole. There are about 25,599 foreign nationals in the FAA airmen registry who are not in the TSA AFSP registry. That's a whole lot of unvetted aliens. That means that currently there are 25,599 who have or will have FAA pilot certificates without ever having been investigated by the TSA. Under the law which should have been applied, none of those 25,599 should even have begun flight training, let alone receive FAA certificates.
Al Qaeda and al Qaeda-like organizations have evolved to meet present realities. Our mindless bureaucracies have not. The chances of a terrorist getting control of a major airline's jumbo jet and flying it into a skyscraper have been greatly reduced. But that solves an eleven year old problem, not a current one. How about all those small and medium-sized aircraft which could carry weaponized anthrax, bubonic plague, or a dirty nuclear bomb?
Well, let me set your mind at rest. The TSA and ICE have announced that they are “working on” a pilot program for vetting the names of foreign nationals against immigration databases.” My first thought is “what have they been doing for the last eleven years?” My second thought is, “Obama and Holder will squelch that the moment they hear about it.” And just in case your expectations are too high, the GAO noted that the two agencies “have not specified desired outcomes and time frames, or assigned individuals with responsibility for fully instituting the program.”
In all fairness, none of the twenty-five illegal students or the illegal flight school owner have been found to be terrorists or to have terrorist connections—yet. Those twenty-six worry me, but the other 25,599 really worry me. If one guy with a pilot's license in Utah can break into a small airport, steal a SkyWest commercial jet and nearly take off to avoid a murder arrest, what could 25,599 do? If only 10% of them have terrorist connections, and only 10% of that 10% seek to do America harm, that's 256 opportunities for committing mass murder. 9-11 took only four pilots and four planes.