Yikes! Airport Screeners Fail 95 Percent of Security Tests

Abysmal investigation findings prompt a call for a security overhaul.

After Transportation Security Administration agents failed 95 percent of tests in a recent undercover investigation, repeatedly allowing mock explosives and banned weapons through TSA checkpoints across the nation, the acting director of the TSA has been reassigned.

The glaring security failures at U.S. airports came to light after Homeland Security conducted a series of tests at TSA checkpoints at some of the nation’s busiest airports, ABC News reported. Undercover agents were successful in smuggling potential weapons through security checkpoints 67 of 70 times.

“In one test an undercover agent was stopped after setting off an alarm at a magnetometer, but TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow-on pat down,” ABC News said.

Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, has called on TSA to “retrain airport security officers, retest screening equipment and increase its use of covert testing in airports,” The New York Times reports.

After the findings of the undercover investigation were revealed, Melvin Carraway, the acting administrator of TSA, was replaced by acting deputy, Mark Hatfield.

In April, President Obama nominated Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger of the Coast Guard to be the TSA’s next leader. According to the Times, Johnson is urging the Senate to confirm Neffenger’s nomination “as quickly as possible.”

“Though Mr. Johnson said that numbers like the security failure rate in the new report ‘never look good out of context,’ the swift and broad measures to overhaul screenings indicated what Mr. Johnson called ‘specific vulnerabilities’ at airport checkpoints,” the Times said.

It’s been my experience that TSA agents at smaller airports are far more thorough than screeners at busy airports. No surprise there. You can obviously take more time screening passengers when you don’t have that many to check through security.

Are you surprised to see how often TSA agents failed to detect mock weapons? Share your comments below.

Stacy Johnson

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