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TSA airport screeners miss 95 percent of explosives, weapons

Pop quiz: What does the U.S. government do well?

That's a tough one.

It's a lot easier (and more entertaining) to point out what it screws up.

Today's lesson comes to us courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration -- the people that pat us down at the airport for no apparent reason.

Despite a $7 billion budget, TSA workers missed an amazing 95 percent of mock explosives and weapons that undercover agents attempted to smuggle through security checks.

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According to an ABC News report , one undercover agent was stopped when he set off an alarm, but the TSA screener failed during a pat-down to detect a fake explosive device taped to his back.

That level of incompetence is hard to buy -- unless you are the Penguin in the 1960s Batman TV series.

Within hours, the head of the TSA was replaced and the agency was directed to revise airport security procedures, retrain officers and retest screening equipment in airports across the country.

It makes me wonder, has America ever spent more for less effective security?

The answer is yes.

The National Security Agency spends more than the TSA annually and its bulk data collection program, which federal judges say is illegal , has cost U.S. tech firms billions more.

A 2014 study said all that money "had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism."

A White House panel concluded the NSA's tactics were "not essential to preventing attacks" and that much of the evidence it did turn up "could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional [court] orders."

What would you do if you paid for a hamburger and the waiter only brought 5 percent of it to the table? What if the waiter brought nothing? Chances are you'd be angry and, at the very least, go somewhere else for food.

U.S. lawmakers, however, line up at the same trough.

Provisions of the Patriot Act have expired, but the U.S. Senate will likely approve the equally-Orwellian sounding 'Freedom Act' soon.

The Freedom Act will allegedly curtail the bulk collection of innocent Americans' phone records, but how do we know what's really going on?

One must assume the NSA's secret, $2 billion data-collection facility in Utah will keep doing ... something.

It's possible the primary function of government is to make what they do seem necessary.

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