|GOP Cong. John Mica|
To hell with national security. There’s pork in them there hills!
Sure, the Transportation Security Agency is meant to stop terrorists from causing another September 11 in which they kill thousands of US citizens, and this time maybe even destroy the White House or the Congress, like they wanted to do last time.
But national security is nothing compared to pork security.
GOP House committee chair John Mica has been pushing for years for the TSA to be privatized.
As Chris wrote yesterday, with all the problems the TSA has, it’s not entirely clear why anything would improve under private management. If anything, at least now TSA has to worry about the ire of the administration and Congress when they strip search granny, but after they’re privatized, kiss any real government oversight goodbye.
Privatizing the TSA just doesn’t make any sense, unless you do some research – something The Hill didn’t bother doing in yesterday’s article about this story. But privatize it we are going to do, because Congressman Mica got some legislation passed earlier this year making it so.
Now why would he do that?
Maybe because one of the main contractors who would profit from privatizing the TSA is a campaign donor to Congressman Mica and one of his constituents.
From my earlier post on Mica’s TSA conflict of interest, in which the Washington Post was burying Mica’s conflict as well:
What the Washington 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:
And a recent check of donations shows that Gerald Berry of Covenant Aviation donated to Mica again in 2011.
And what do you know, according to news reports “all signs are pointing to Covenant Aviation Security” getting the TSA privatization contract in Mica’s own backyard.
What’s especially interesting about Mica’s Covenant having the inside track is that Covenant is not without controversy:
[I]n 2006, according to a government report, Covenant was caught cheating on performance tests at San Francisco International Airport.
Hard to believe a company caught cheating on performance tests would have the inside track on new TSA contracts. So how did they manage it?
Now, in most of the world, if a politician were lobbying for something on behalf of someone who gave them money, we’d send that politician to jail – or at the very least they’d recuse themselves from the matter. We certainly wouldn’t make them the chair of an entire committee, and we certainly wouldn’t accede to their demands when the national security of the country was at stake.
But this is the way Washington works. Especially in the Republican party.
Members of Congress are guided by (controlled) their constituents and their campaign donors, even when the subject of debate is national security. And when the constituent and donor is a corporation, the sky’s the limit!
Whether or not a privatized TSA helps stop the next September 11 is not what is foremost on a (corrupt) congressman’s mind, when the opportunity presents itself to turn America’s first line of defense against the next Mohammed Atta into their own personal pork dinner.
Pass the gravy, Cong. Mica.