Undercover tests find TSA fails to spot weapons 80 percent of the time
The TSA continues to fail to spot weapons at security checkpoints.Former United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson works alongside the men and women of the Transportation Security Administration at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. (DHS/Barry Bahler)
Recent undercover tests by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted at security checkpoints revealed that the majority of TSA airport screenings fail to detect weapons.
Members of the House Homeland Security Committee learned in a classified briefing that roughly 80 percent of the time, TSA agents fail to detect threats such as mock knives, guns and explosives at security checkpoints, ABC News reported.
When asked if the failure rate was 80 percent, a source familiar with the report told ABC News: “You are in the ballpark.”
The DHS said in a statement that its inspectors “identified vulnerabilities with TSA’s screener performance, screening equipment and associated procedures.”
According to the statement, at least eight recommendations had been made to the TSA to improve checkpoint security. It is unclear what those recommendations were.
Congress said that the findings of the report are disturbing.
“This agency that you run is broken badly, and it needs your attention,” Rep. Mike Rogers told TSA Administrator David Pekoske, ABC reported.
“We take the OIG’s findings very seriously and are implementing measures that will improve screening effectiveness at checkpoints,” Pekoske said. “We are focused on staying ahead of a dynamic threat to aviation with continued investment in the workforce, enhanced procedures and new technologies.”
Two years ago, a report found that the TSA failed to detect threats from inspectors 95 percent of the time.
Despite the high failure rate, then-TSA administrator John Pistole said that Homeland Security “Red Teams” that disguise themselves as passengers know how to exploit the system. He called them “super terrorists.”
“[Testers] know exactly what our protocols are. They can create and devise and conceal items that… not even the best terrorists would be able to do,” Pistole said.
Following the report, a number of procedures were changed to shorten long security checkpoint lines. A training academy was also created for transportation security officers.
TSA is currently testing new equipment in airports, but there are some implementation and funding challenges.