American airports have a reputation for meticulously checking every passenger for weapons and contraband, especially since the September 11 attacks in 2001. But it seems the notoriously strict Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suffers from some major security flaws after all.
According to ABC News, an internal investigation has been launched into the TSA’s operations at some of the country’s busiest airports. The gaps in TSA security protocol were so big that undercover agents were able to successfully sneak banned weapons and explosives through airport security and onto planes, all without the TSA noticing. While the bombs were only made to look real, undercover agents got them past the TSA in 95 percent of test trials.
What’s even more discouraging is the fact that TSA agents regularly failed 67 out of 70 tests administered to them. In one of the tests, a TSA agent successfully stopped an undercover agent of the “Red Team” who set off the magnetometer, but completely failed to locate the mock explosive that he had taped to his back–even after the TSA agent patted him down.
According to Fox News, the tests were developed by the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that TSA guidelines were as strict and foolproof as possible, meaning the individual trials that undercover agents ran were designed to be especially challenging. But the results were extremely disheartening, proving that the TSA is ill-prepared for a large number of weapons-smuggling tactics.
“Red Team testing of the aviation security network has been part of TSA’s mission advancement for 13 years,” the spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said to Fox News. “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.”
Now that the TSA trials have resulted in overwhelmingly distressing results, members of the DHS are working hard to revise TSA procedures and policies to get airport security back to where it needs to be, according to the spokesman’s statement.
“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.”
Despite the failure of the TSA to detect explosives carried by undercover agents, the TSA itself claims to have successfully carried out a record number of contraband confiscations last year, according to RT. More than 2,000 guns were seized by TSA agents, as well as grenades, blades, and stun guns.
But the TSA has also been in the news recently for several embarrassing incidents that got TSA agents fired for inappropriate groping.
[Image credit: Getty]