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The TSA is considering a plan to remove security checkpoints at 150 smaller airports

The Transportation Security Administration is considering a plan to eliminate security checkpoints at more than 150 small and midsize airports, The Washington Post and CNN report. Under the proposal, passengers and luggage from the 150 unidentified airports would be screened upon arrival at larger airports. TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said no decision has been made and the proposal is part of an annual budget process in which the "TSA is asked to discuss potential operational efficiencies — this year is no different."

Two senior TSA officials concerned about the idea told CNN it was explored as far back as 2011, but the level of interest — including discussions and cost-benefit analyses by a 20-person TSA working group over the summer — is new. When the TSA floated the idea two years ago, the Post says, it was "seen then by critics as a transparent effort to get Congress to spend additional money on the agency."

Airline security experts and some TSA officials gave the proposal a thumbs-down. "This is completely nuts," former Transportation Department inspector general Mary Schiavo tells the Post. "Perhaps they want an outcry from the public to say 'Oh, no, no, no, Congress, give them the additional $115 million that they say this would save.'" The plan would "destroy any reasonable security over American skies" and also "small towns and cities across the country because they will virtually have no air service," she added. CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said it was "stunning that this is even seriously being considered."

In the internal documents from June and July, CNN says, the TSA group said that cutting security at smaller airports would bring a "small (non-zero) undesirable increase in risk related to additional adversary opportunity" but save $115 million a year that could bolster security at larger airports. The TSA provides security at about 440 airports serving more than 2 million passengers, 4.9 million carry-on bags, and 1.3 million checked items a day.