WASHINGTON - U.S. Representative Don Young said he regrets setting up the Transportation Safety Administration, the federal agency with the task of screening airline passengers.
"If I had to do it over again, I probably would not have passed the TSA bill, because they did not do as I thought they would do," Young told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and other Alaska media. "All they did was put a new shirt on a bunch of people and went back to the old technology."
Young, an Alaska Republican, is chairman of the House Transportation Committee. In that role he has introduced or pushed a number of the security measures adopted by Congress after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The nation, Young said, is safer but not safe. Total safety is a dangerous goal, he said, so while he sees some areas for progress, he does not want to smother liberty and the country's economy.
"We have to recognize if there is a dedicated terrorist that wishes to cause harm, they can still do it and there is no way you can ever prevent it," he said. "Just because you hear thunder and lightning you can't put your head under the blanket and expect the chores to get done."
Most parts of the world have dealt with terrorism for a long time, he said, so Americans may have to adjust their thinking.
Good progress has been made in securing railroads and ports, he said, though more focus now needs to be placed on overseas ports and unregistered ships. Young, however, is unhappy with the slow pace of technological advances at airport check-in sites.
He said the United States should assist other countries in developing their check systems and tracking ships by satellite.Young said he also is disappointed in the performance of the new Department of Homeland Security.
"It was never going to be easy because it put too many people under one hatch that don't like one another. Immigration is still not working with Customs. I could go on down the line. That part hurts," he said.