As a 10-year veteran (now retired) with the Transportation Security Administration, most of it spent training officers around the country how to perform their duties correctly, I think I’m qualified to offer some insight into the problems exposed by the TSA’s Red Teams. First, there is no excuse for the officer who did not locate the explosives item taped to the back of the Red Team member during the pat-down referenced in the report — he screwed up. As for TSA officers not finding all the other weapons, explosives components, etc., that is easy to explain. TSA checkpoint officers face unrelenting pressure from TSA management, airport management and the traveling public to process passengers quickly in order to keep checkpoint wait times low. This as more and larger carry-on bags are being carried by passengers unwilling to pay airline checked bag fees. The public complains about long wait times daily, in person to checkpoint officers and via social media. Really? What do they expect? TSA airport managers will tell officers (particularly the X-ray officers) to take all the time needed to make sure each bag they screen is safe, but the reality is that each checkpoint had better get its passengers processed rapidly or there will be hell to pay. So X-ray officers look at each bag for five to 10 seconds instead of the 30 seconds minimum they should spend making sure each bag is safe.
Naturally, the TSA says it needs more money, technology and people to perform better. It can spend and hire until the cows come home, but until everyone accepts the fact that airlines will have to restrict the size and number of carry-on bags, or eliminate carry-ons altogether, threat items will continue to get on to airplanes, or — the alternative — wait times will have to increase 300 percent to 400 percent in order to truly allow TSA officers the time needed. You can’t have it both ways. How much risk are you and your family members willing to accept?
Tom Unstad, Lakeville
Latest developments are further evidence that Nienstedt must go
Over the past two years at various meetings of archdiocesan priests with Archbishop John Nienstedt, I have asked the archbishop to step down from his leadership position unless he is able to explain his actions with regard to assigning Curtis Wehmeyer as a pastor. With the criminal charges now leveled against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis over the Wehmeyer case (“Archdiocese charged with ‘failing to protect’ clergy abuse victims,” StarTribune.com, June 5), it is imperative for the archbishop to resign. He has failed the victims and their family members as well as archdiocesan parishioners. He has undermined the efforts of our lay employees and volunteers to insure safe environments for our children.
The Rev. Michael Tegeder, Minneapolis
SOUTHWEST LIGHT RAIL
The ‘give and take’ should end, as should the project entirely
Regarding Eden Prairie Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens’ discussion of light rail ending with “a lot of give and take” (“Eden Prairie LRT stations eyed for cuts,” June 4), it really is time to “give” it up altogether (further light-rail construction, that is) and “take” the funds for much needed repairing of roads and bridges throughout the metro area. The $1.65 billion cost of the line (I wonder how many of us really even understand what a billion is), let alone the $341 million cost overrun, would be a bonanza for the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Council. With a billion dollars the council could provide dedicated express bus routes serving the entire metro area and superb local upgraded bus service as well. As for the Royalton and Penn station cuts, with a billion dollars you could provide a free bus rider card for any person living in those districts. Not any crazier idea than building a mega-billion-dollar fixed rail line serving only one branch of our low-density region.
Kaye Metcalfe, Minneapolis
SURVEILLANCE AND SECRECY
We have many reasons to worry — about government’s abuses
In “Balancing privacy and national security” (June 5), the Star Tribune Editorial Board wrote: “Americans have reason to be uneasy.” That is very true.
There was once an expectation that government business would be conducted in the open. It was also expected that individuals had a right to be secure in their personal privacy.
This has now all been stood on its head.
Both the Bush administration and the Obama administration have stepped deep into the veil of secrecy. It is apparent that both parties are more than willing to work out of the view of the American public.
The history of secrecy in American governmental affairs has proved that the real reason that officials want to conduct their business in secret is to hide embarrassing or all too often criminal behavior.
We have certainly not seen the end of government corruption. It turns out that the Obama administration has been historically aggressive in persecuting whistleblowers who report government corruption to the public. The systems now deployed by the government are clearly designed to watch everyone. The response that you have nothing to worry about if you are not doing anything wrong is simply lazy. No one would volunteer to turn over all of their private information to governmental authorities just as a matter of civic life.
Government officials have recanted every claim that the massive security apparatus has produced anything unique or has stopped a single terrorist act. I recommend Glenn Greenwald’s reporting and interviews on this topic to everyone who is feeling uneasy.
As for Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg has endorsed him as a patriotic American hero.
Zachary Doering, Minneapolis
DANCE COACH SUSPENSIONS
Actions were nothing like AP’s, yet sanctions are similar
Four dance team coaches participate in a silent, nonviolent protest against perceived plagiarism. The Minnesota State High School League suspends them from participating for a year. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson physically abuses his preschool son because he wasn’t behaving. The NFL suspends him from participating for a year.
These two incidents do not seem to warrant similar punishment. Is the MSHSL too strict or the NFL too lenient? The coaches stood by their teams over what they believed was a rules violation, and some feelings were hurt. Peterson stood by his misconceptions of acceptable parental discipline, and his son was physically harmed and possibly emotionally damaged. Yet the media lauds the return of AP. Is it his celebrity status or the potential profits to be reaped from a successful Vikings season that has so many people turning a blind eye? Maybe our society needs to think a little more about right and wrong.
Tammy Henry, Minneapolis