Why London Needs the TSA

07/20/2012 05:42 pm ET | Updated Sep 17, 2012

With the 2012 Olympic Games little more than a week away, there's ominous news out of Great Britain. The company chosen to provide perimeter security for the games, G4S, has announced -- rather, admitted -- that it will be unable to deliver enough guards to perform their contracted duties.

This is frightening news.

It should come as no surprise that London is a major terrorist target. Need proof? Then remember that every time an airport screener takes away your extra-large bottle of hand sanitizer, it's because of a threat uncovered in London in which jihadists plotted to simultaneously detonate bombs on board multiple aircraft. And don't forget the horrific 7/7 attacks in which al Qaeda targeted civilians using public transportation in 2005, killing more than 50 innocent commuters.

Britain is so overrun with Muslim extremists that it has been tagged with a dark moniker: Londonistan. So the prospect of inadequate security at the Olympics is alarming. Fortunately, the British military and police will supplement the staff to try to shore up the security at the games. One wonders if this will leave the city vulnerable elsewhere.

The whole fiasco not only serves notice to Olympic spectators to be vigilant, and of the importance of the axiom "If you see something, say something," it also should be a reminder of the successes of the Transportation Security Administration in the United States. That's right, I said "successes."

Consider this: The British were awarded the Olympics in 2005. That means they had seven years to get a security contractor to recruit, evaluate, hire, train, and deploy 10,400 guards to perform duties like operate x-ray machines and metal detectors. They chose a private firm, G4S, to handle the work. To date, G4S has brought on less than 40 percent of the needed guards.

Now consider that the TSA had only one year to recruit, evaluate, hire, train, and deploy more than 50,000 officers to do essentially the same sort of work. But the TSA -- a government agency -- met or beat its deadlines everywhere across the country. That's five times as many security personnel deployed in one-seventh the time. Pretty impressive. And if you are wondering if this means the TSA forces are lesser-skilled, consider that there has not been a single successful attack on civil aviation from a U.S. airport since 9/11. The skeptics amongst you will come up with countless reasons why this is a faulty statistic, but you can be sure that none of them would have predicted such a record on September 12, 2001.

The British government must have taken note of this contrast in performance. CNN reported this week that a number of TSA officials are being sent to Britain for the Games as security liaisons.

Since its inception in 2001, Congress has been relentlessly debating whether TSA's mandate should be privatized. I wonder what the British would say after their experience with private sector security.

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