An investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security suggests that the TSA is actually a national security hazard.
An investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General suggests that the TSA is a national security hazard. The new figures report that the Transportation Security Administration failed undercover tests conducted by a DHS “Red Team” 67 out of 70 times.
“Red Teams” are undercover agents who pose as passengers in order to test security protocol. In this round of testing, members of the team were able to smuggle mock explosives and banned weapons 95% of the time at 12 of America’s busiest airports.
In one case, “…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.”
According to ABC News, which broke the story, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was so disturbed by the findings that he traveled to TSA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia for a detailed briefing.
ABC reported that “U.S. officials insisted changes have already been made at airports to address vulnerabilities identified by the latest tests. “
In a statement, DHS claimed that
“Upon learning the initial findings of the Office of Inspector General’s report, Secretary Johnson immediately directed TSA to implement a series of actions, several of which are now in place, to address the issues raised in the report.”
In spite of the Department of Homeland Security’s swift reaction to the disturbing results of its own investigation, it is difficult to believe that the same TSA that could not find 95% of weapons could immediately alter its practices to seal loopholes in its security systems. This ability seems even more unlikely in light of a DHS statement to Huffington Post that said “Red Team testing of the aviation security network has been part of TSA’s mission advancement for 13 years.” After 13 years of internal accountability reviews, the TSA is still missing an overwhelming majority of potential threats.
This concern is confirmed by the fact that DHS undercover agents have successfully flouted TSA security before:
“A similar episode played out in 2013, when an undercover investigator with a fake bomb hidden on his body passed through a metal detector, went through a pat-down at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty Airport, and was never caught.”
Apparently, as the new investigation proves, necessary changes were not made in response to this lapse.
The TSA has boasted that it routinely finds banned weapons during its checkpoint process. However, these reports sharply conflict with the new DHS investigation.
The DHS stressed that the TSA takes a multi-angle approach to airport security and “that there are layers of security including bomb-sniffing dogs and other technologies seen and unseen.” The agency still admitted the findings were disappointing.
The TSA has been criticized not only for a failure to find terrorists, but invasive pat downs and scanners (that may expose passengers to radiation), “behavior detection” programs that target immigrants, and a pervasive theft problem.
The DHS findings further suggest that Americans’ sacrifice of freedom and privacy for alleged security may not be worth the cost.
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