Nobody likes going through security when they go through an airport. The hassle of having to wait in a long line, take off your shoes, organize your belongings, and having a complete stranger body-scan you for weapons isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. But at least they’re making both the airport and your flight safe, right? Wrong.
It turns out that recent reports indicate that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not do a very good job of detecting weapons and other types of contraband during their screening processes. This means that other than the scare factor, the process of going through airport security is essentially almost useless.
In recent secret tests, in which undercover agents tried to sneak weapons and explosives through airport security at various airports, TSA security officials failed to identify as many as 95% of the weapons. This shows that airport security is a serious failure.
House of Representatives Member Stephen Lynch said, “In looking at the number of times people got through with guns or bombs in these covert testing exercises it really was pathetic. When I say that I mean pitiful. Just thinking about the breaches there, it's horrific."
The security tests function by having agents from the Inspector General’s Office pose as travelers while trying to sneak dangerous weapons onto airplanes. Indeed, some of the airports let as many as 95% of contraband pass.
Inspector General John Roth said, “The failures included failures in the technology, failures in TSA procedures, and human error. We found layers of security simply missing."
Meanwhile, General Accounting Office representative Jennifer Grover said that the TSA has fallen short in terms of basic program management.
In response to these findings, TSA administrator Peter Neffenger said that the agency would be taking a comprehensive system review following this utter failure. He also said that the TSA would consider using search dogs in the future. While that would certainly attract some criticism, it might make the process more efficient overall.
For now, the TSA must simply hang its head in shame.