The Republicans have a new program called YouCut that encourages members of the public to suggest wasteful federal government programs that should be cut in order to balance the budget.
Here’s the suggestion I submitted:
I propose saving a minimum of $340 million a year by abandoning the use of expensive backscatter X-ray machines at airports. The scanners are easily fooled. They actually make it easier to sneak plastic explosives onto a plane, because they fail to detect objects easily uncovered by a pat-down. So they’re a total waste of money. [See link 1]
Additional savings can be obtained by cutting the 5,000 new federal employees who are expected to be employed to run the machines. [See link 2]
In fact, the federal budget could be cut by up to $6.8 billion a year by canceling the TSA airport security program entirely. In tests at Newark airport, the TSA failed to detect concealed bombs and guns 20 out of 22 times. At LAX, explosives and bomb parts went undetected 50 out of 75 times. Clearly the federal government is hopeless at airport security, so why not cut the waste and let states employ private security, as proposed by Rep. John Mica? Private firms would have free market competition, hopefully making them more efficient and effective. [See link 3]
Backscatter scanners are easily fooled, according to a paper from UCSF physics professors: <http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/management/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=228800268>
Cato Institute TSA cost analysis: <http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12563>. Security expert Bruce Schneier, on why body scanners are a waste of time and money: <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2010/11/22/do-body-scanners-make-us-safer/a-waste-of-money-and-time>
TSA failure rate is 70%, man gets past IAH scanners with a .40 handgun: <http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/loaded-gun-slips-past-tsa-screeners/story?id=12412458&tqkw=&tqshow=WN&page=1>