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What significance did former administrator John Magaw have on the TSA?

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John Magaw was the first leader of TSA after the 9/11 attacks—an event which, in addition to shaking the United States to its core, transformed airport security policies. Airport security was naturally heightened, as the 9/11 terrorist attack was carried out using four passenger planes.

Magaw was named Undersecretary of Transportation Security in 2002, having amassed a strong reputation as leader of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). He was also former head of the Secret Service. Magaw received free reign from the House Aviation Subcommittee to improve airport security. He enacted stringent and controversial policies immediately after taking on his new role in the TSA.

Magaw hired former ATF colleague Gale Rossides to select and train airport screeners. Rossides championed a dramatic pay increase for the TSA screening agents. She also offered experienced-based compensation to these TSA employees. Despite these progressive changes, new airport security policies have resulted in unprecedented and unwelcome travel delays. Frequent flyers complain about long security lines, and everyday passengers complain about the stringent measures having to do with liquids. Airline flight attendants, too, complain of being groped by agents. Additionally, Magaw was chided by Congress for spending too much money too quickly on TSA personnel such as body searchers, ticket checkers, and line coordinators. After this tumultuous period, Magaw left the position in June of 2002.

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