TSA Says It Will Meet Passenger Screening Deadline

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The Transportation Security Agency says it will have passenger screeners in all of the nation's commercial airports by Nov. 19, the deadline mandated by Congress.

"Our new federal screeners will provide world-class security and world-class customer service for the American traveling public," said James Loy, the acting undersecretary of Transportation, in a press release.

The TSA - known for its reluctance to "profile" potentially dangerous airline passengers - also boasted about the diversity of its workforce in the press release.

"With less than 10 months to recruit an entirely new type of federal airport security workforce, it is rewarding to report that as of Oct. 23, some 22 percent of TSA's screeners are African-American, a number twice that of the current civilian work force population. While 8 percent of the American work force is Hispanic, TSA's work force is already 11 percent Hispanic... Although whites make up 77.9 percent of the workforce nationally, only 57 percent of TSA's work force is white."

According to the TSA, federal screeners get 44 hours of classroom training and 60 hours of on-the-job training. They must be U.S. citizens, speak English, and pass a background check. Salaries range from $23,600-$35,400, depending on experience and where the job is located.

By most accounts, the TSA will be hard-pressed to meet another deadline set by Congress - that of screening all checked luggage for explosives by Dec. 31, 2002.