Dealing with airport security is one of the most annoying and invasive aspects of flying. Transportation Security Administration encounters include such harmless requests as removing your belt and shoes to revealing X-ray body scans, groping pat downs, or even full body strip searches. But a recent internal government investigation reported on by ABC News seems to indicate the uselessness of all these so-called security procedures.
The investigation, conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, exposed major airport security flaws across the United States, finding that TSA agents failed 67 of 70 tests. In the tests, undercover Department of Homeland Security agents were able to smuggle mock explosives and firearms through TSA checkpoints.
In one test, a fake explosive did manage to set off an alarm at a magnetometer. Unfortunately, the following pat down by TSA agents failed to uncover the fake explosive tapped to the undercover agent’s back.
Ironically, only a few months ago, the TSA bragged about the “great year” they had in seizing more than 2,000 firearms in U.S. airports in 2014. In light of the dismal 5% success rate in the recent investigation, the bigger question may be how many firearms got aboard flights if 2,000 were seized.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson stated that changes have been made to address the security failings. In a statement, Johnson lays out that all TSA agents will receive training to address the vulnerabilities uncovered in the investigation and that screening equipment would be re-evaluated. He also stated that further investigations to uncover security flaws in U.S. airports will continue.
As a result of the investigation, TSA Director Melvin Carraway has been reassigned from his role as head of the agency.
Despite the words of assurance and plan of action from the Department of Homeland Security, it is hard to believe this is the last to be heard about airport security flaws in the United States. In fact, this isn’t the first time the TSA has been made aware of airport security flaws. In 2013, a similar situation took place in which an undercover agent with a fake bomb passed TSA security checkpoints and a pat down without being caught at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty Airport.