Who could have guessed that the security theater at American airports would prove to be only 4% effective? Pretty much everyone who travels at all through them. Who could have guessed that the Department of Homeland Security — not to mention the Obama administration — would hold someone accountable for the failure? Few, if any:
The findings are “disturbing” indeed. One station failed to detect a fake bomb strapped to someones back, even though the metal detector went off when he first went through it:
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. …
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was apparently so frustrated by the findings he sought a detailed briefing on them last week at TSA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, according to sources. U.S. officials insisted changes have already been made at airports to address vulnerabilities identified by the latest tests.
“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,” the DHS said in a written statement to ABC News.
Homeland security officials insist that security at the nation’s airports is strong – that there are layers of security including bomb sniffing dogs and other technologies seen and unseen. But the officials that ABC News spoke to admit these were disappointing results.
The issues don’t stop at the security checkpoints, either. In 2009, Congress allocated over a half-billion dollars to improve the baggage screening process at airports after TSA failed a similar undercover audit. They also spent $11 million on training to boost performance. This review determined that despite the investment in training and resources, there had been no improvement on screening.
This makes it rather clear why Johnson felt compelled to have at least one head roll as a result of these findings, although from news reports it appears that Melvin Carraway still has a job at TSA. The demand for more resources and training will certainly follow, but Congress should make any such extra funding contingent not just on a new man at the top, but a complete restructuring of TSA, and perhaps a reimagining of its approach. Clearly, the approach in place isn’t working, at least according to the TSA’s own audits.