The Corruptible TSA

Here’s a story about TSA agents accepting bribes to allow passengers to carry large quantities of the prescription narcotic oxycodone onto airline flights.  I have two comments.

First, people are allowed to carry prescription drugs on airline flights.  These drugs were pills, and there is no security threat to carrying them, nor are there TSA rules against carrying them.  There is no limit to the number of pills you are allowed to carry with you on an airline flight.  Sure, the drug couriers planned to sell them illegally to people who didn’t have prescriptions for them, but that is an issue well beyond the TSA’s mandate.  Big Brother is watching you (but if you pay enough, you can get him to look the other way).

Second, this incident shows that TSA personnel can be bribed to allow passengers to carry questionable items onto commercial aircraft.  If this goes much further, the next thing you know we’ll be reading stories about passengers bribing TSA agents to carry substances that are actually banned onto aircraft.  If we’re not careful we’ll find people boarding aircraft with more than 3.4 ounces of toothpaste, shampoo, and maybe even bottled water.

It is worth a remark ten years after 9-11 that the TSA has yet to identify a single terrorist trying to board an aircraft.

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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