In a rather astounding example of burying the lede, the Washington Post writes today about how many airports are considering using private contractors, instead of the TSA, to handle airport security. Then the Post interviews the incoming House Transportation chairman, who trashes the TSA and is pushing airports to switch to the private contractors.
Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), the incoming chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has written to 200 of the nation’s largest airports, urging them to consider switching to private companies.
The TSA was “never intended to be an army of 67,000 employees,” he said.
“If you look at [the TSA's] performance, have they ever stopped a terrorist? Anyone can get through,” Mica said in an interview. “We’ve been very lucky, very fortunate. TSA should focus on its mission: setting up the protocol, adapting to the changing threats and gathering intelligence.”
What the Post doesn’t tell you, until the end of the story, is that one of the big private contractors is in the House Transportation chairman’s own district.
Covenant, based in Mica’s home district in northeastern coastal Florida, has airport screening contracts in Sioux Falls, S.D., Tupelo, Miss., and seven small airports in northern and eastern Montana. Its deal at San Francisco International is by far its largest. Covenant employs nearly 1,100 people in the bay area, who make up nearly all of its 1,150 workers. The last four-year contract, from 2006 to 2010, totaled $314 million. A new contract has been put out for competitive bids. Meanwhile, Covenant is operating on a two-month contract ending in February.
Um, kind of a relevant fact that deserves to be highlighted a tad earlier. Rather than a story about airports ditching TSA, you may have a story about an incoming House committee chair trying to base our entire airport counter-terror security on who donates to his campaign – oh yeah, the post didn’t tell you that one either, the president of the private contractor is also a donor to incoming Chairman Mica’s campaign. Too bad the Washington Post didn’t bother checking: