The TSA Failed Security Tests 95 Percent Of The Time & Yeah, That's Pretty Much As Scary As It Sounds
I'm sure at some point you've been stuck in the massive, snaking airport security lines. But you don't grumble, because you know that the cost of being safe is taking your shoes off in public, right? Well, the TSA head was reassigned after the agency failed 95 percent of trials in a department investigation. Oh. But swift calls for change could help the TSA's capital-F performance — so what exactly are they?
Amid Monday's revelations, TSA acting administrator Melvin Carraway was reassigned to a different post in the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was given a detailed briefing at TSA's headquarters last week and has already ordered changes to the agency's operation aside from ousting its leader.
The massive failures were exposed by DHS Red Teams, who were sent to the U.S.'s busiest airports with the intent to smuggle fake weapons through security check points. They were shockingly effective. TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests carried out by the teams. Meanwhile, I had to take the bobby pins out of my double bun on my last screening.
Johnson issued a statement on the findings Monday:
The numbers in these reports never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security. We take these findings very seriously in our continued effort to test, measure and enhance our capabilities and techniques as threats evolve.
I'm going to go on a limb and say those numbers wouldn't look good even if they were in context, but OK.
In his statement, Johnson laid out initial plans for revamping the TSA's screening process. Here are a few of the points:
- TSA leadership will "immediately revise" screening procedures to address weak areas outlined in the classified report
- Brief the reports to federal security directors at ever U.S. airport
- "Conduct training" for agents and intensive training for supervising personnel
- Re-test and re-evaluate the equipment used for screenings
- Continue random testing from both the DHS and teams within TSA
Johnson also said that he has asked TSA to ensure that its testing equipment is up to standards as part of a long-term solution. DHS technology officials will also be looking into new technologies that would specifically address the vulnerabilities identified in the report.
Johnson noted that in the last fiscal year, TSA screened a record number of travelers and confiscated record numbers of prohibited items. So that makes me wonder, if the investigation showed the screenings were only 5 percent effective, how much of the stuff that the TSA features on its crazy Instagram account could it have missed?
So what does all of this mean? TSA has some serious work to do, first of all. And, yeah, you guessed it — it'll probably mean longer lines.
Images: Getty Images (1), Instagram/TSA (3)