TSA Not Detecting Weapons at Security Checkpoints
This isn’t good:
An internal investigation of the Transportation Security Administration revealed security failures at dozens of the nation’s busiest airports, where undercover investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials, ABC News has learned.
The series of tests were conducted by Homeland Security Red Teams who pose as passengers, setting out to beat the system.
According to officials briefed on the results of a recent Homeland Security Inspector General’s report, TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests, with Red Team members repeatedly able to get potential weapons through checkpoints.
The Acting Director of the TSA has been reassigned:
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement Monday that Melvin Carraway would be moved to the Office of State and Local Law Enforcement at DHS headquarters “effective immediately.”
This is bad. I have often made the point that airport security doesn’t have to be 100% effective in detecting guns and bombs. Here I am in 2008:
If you’re caught at airport security with a bomb or a gun, the screeners aren’t just going to take it away from you. They’re going to call the police, and you’re going to be stuck for a few hours answering a lot of awkward questions. You may be arrested, and you’ll almost certainly miss your flight. At best, you’re going to have a very unpleasant day.
This is why articles about how screeners don’t catch every—or even a majority—of guns and bombs that go through the checkpoints don’t bother me. The screeners don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be good enough. No terrorist is going to base his plot on getting a gun through airport security if there’s a decent chance of getting caught, because the consequences of getting caught are too great.
A 95% failure rate is bad, because you can build a plot around sneaking something past the TSA.
I don’t know the details, or what failed. Was it the procedures or training? Was it the technology? Was it the PreCheck program? I hope we’ll learn details, and this won’t be swallowed in the great maw of government secrecy.
EDITED TO ADD: Quip:
David Burge @iowahawkblog
At $8 billion per year, the TSA is the most expensive theatrical production in history.