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TSA Tries to Explain How 9-Year-Old Got on Plane, Predictably Fails

October 7, 2013 at 4:26 PM | by | ()

If there is one overarching problem with TSA - and we've said this more than once - it's that the agency tries to prevent yesterday's attack tomorrow, and so obnoxiously inconveniences travelers to stop plots that have already happened. That doesn't have anything to do with this post. It's just something we like to repeat.

But if there's another deep-seated institutional problem with the TSA, it's that when the agency is in trouble, which is often, its officials will do damage control by just making things up. Take the fallout from the PDF idiocy, or the controversy over back-scatter machine limitations, or the entire debate over unionization, or the Detroit racial profiling case. All of these are places where the TSA tried to sell the public on explanations that were either false, contradictory, incoherent - and in most cases some combination of the three.

Which brings us to this nonsense from Sunday. A 9 year-old boy in Minneapolis got through security and managed to make his way physically onto an airplane without even having a ticket. A local CBS affiliate called TSA on Sunday morning to ask hey, what the hell?

The TSA responded by saying that the child slipped through because staffing has been reduced due to the government shut down.

But wait, Jaunted readers will say. Wasn't there a post just last week about how TSA's frontline workers are protected from the shutdown? Why yes there was.

Which brings us to the second half of the story. After TSA's spokesperson said that the mistake was due to the shutdown, TSA emailed with a clarification that said that frontline officers are in fact working during the furlough. They added that "the child was screened along with all other passengers to ensure that he was not a threat to the aircraft."

Now honestly, this shouldn't be that much of a scandal. Kids have been known to scamper around below eye level and attach themselves to families, so as long as this child was actually screened - which is important because we don't want terrorists giving weapons to little kids - you can see how he might slip through. It's also not as uncommon as people wish it was. Gawker quoted a Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman saying he's "never heard of anything like this happening," which should be embarrassing for him.

Wouldn't it be nice, though, if TSA could provide that very simple explanation instead of just saying random words?

[Photo: CBS Minnesota]

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