In a recent City Journal article about the TSA, John Tierney offers the following proposal:

At the entrance to the security checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport, let’s install a large bronze plaque proclaiming it the Senator Charles Schumer Line. Perhaps we could put up a statue, too, or at least a cardboard cutout. Similar monuments can be installed at JFK for Hillary Clinton, at the Phoenix airport for John McCain, and at the home airports of all the other senators who voted to create the Transportation Security Administration.

Even by Washington standards, the creation of the TSA was a blunder of colossal proportions. Experts from around the world warned at the time—in 2001—that federalizing airport security would be ruinously expensive, inefficient, and unsafe. Israel and many European countries had already rejected similar systems. But in the frenzy following the September 11 attacks, U.S. senators paid no attention. They weren’t about to let this crisis go to waste. Both parties wanted to look tough on national security, and the Democrats who controlled the Senate were especially eager to gain campaign contributions from tens of thousands of new federal employees. For many in government, the TSA was a twofer: a chance to create a new fiefdom while also blaming someone else for their own mistakes.

Legislators and bureaucrats scapegoated the private security companies that had been screening passengers for the airlines. Citing the lapse in security on September 11, politicos claimed that a new federal agency was needed to replace the companies’ low-paid and poorly trained screeners—never mind that the screeners were entirely innocent of blame for September 11. They had faithfully followed the directives from well-paid public officials in Washington that made the hijackings possible.

It was the federal government, not the private screeners, that set the policy allowing small knives and box cutters to be brought onto planes. Federal guidelines prevented airlines from arming pilots and reinforcing cockpit doors. The feds also stopped the private security firms from using an existing system to identify high-risk passengers, which would have singled out some of the hijackers for special screening.

Instead of learning from those mistakes, the Senate doubled down on central planning, voting unanimously to turn airport screening into a federal monopoly. The only intelligent deliberation occurred in the House of Representatives, where Republicans actually listened to experts from countries with considerable experience in aviation terrorism. Israel and European nations had learned the hard way that good security requires a division of responsibility. An independent watchdog is essential to ensure that screeners are doing their job, and the obvious candidate for that role is the federal government. But that means that someone else has to do the screening. The watchdog can’t watch itself.

House Republicans heeded the experts’ advice, and they had the votes to trump House Democrats yearning for more federal workers. The House passed a bill to establish a system modeled on the one used in Israel, Canada, and Europe: each airport would run its own screening system, and the feds would have wide authority to set standards, monitor performance, and mandate improvements. When it came time to reconcile the competing bills, however, Senate Democrats stood firm, and the House Republicans were denounced for putting ideology above national security. One of the loudest critics was New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who was such an ardent cheerleader for the TSA that he deserves to have the line at Newark Airport named after him….

The Bush White House, anxious for quick action, caved to public pressure and promised to sign whatever bill emerged from Congress, even if it was the Democrats’ version. The Republicans won a few concessions—the TSA wouldn’t be unionized, and a few airports could experiment with their own screening systems—but the Democrats prevailed in creating another federal bureaucracy, with utterly predictable results.

Soon travelers were referring to the TSA as Thousands Standing Around, and the agency has made headlines ever since for rudeness, inconvenience, and incompetence. The three-hour lines this summer are just the latest failures of a top-heavy bureaucracy (one administrator for every three screeners) and a workforce that has gotten even more unmanageable since it was unionized in 2011. (Because President Obama undid the original no-union policy as a payback to labor for supporting his campaign, he deserves to have his name on the line at his hometown airport, O’Hare.)

There’s lots more. Read the whole thing!