U.S. government officials criticized the Transportation Security Administration’s security, specifically airport screeners, on Tuesday, stating that they were woefully ill-equipped to detect weapons.
On Tuesday, a House Oversight hearing that was organized to evaluate and examine classified reports gathered by federal watchdogs was held, and it resulted in numerous senators hugely criticizing the TSA and airport screeners.
Inspector General’s Office auditors conducted a number of tests while posing as travelers to try and pick out weaknesses in the TSA’s security. But even they would have been shocked and disappointed by the amount of flaws that they ultimately found.
Specifically, the Inspector General’s Office’s employees found huge loopholes and problems in the TSA’s screening process. Earlier this summer, a leaked classified report insisted that as much as 95 percent of contraband, which includes weapons and explosives, were able to be transported through clandestine testings. The hearings were orchestrated in response to these findings.
Speaking at the hearing, Rep. Stephen Lynch, who is the democrat for Massachusetts, declared, via ARS Technica, “In looking at the number of times people got through with guns or bombs in these covert testing exercise it really was pathetic. When I say that I mean pitiful. Just thinking about the breaches there, it’s horrific.”
Jennifer Grover, who works as a member of the General Accounting Officer, was vehement with her disgust in how the TSA’s discrepancies when it came to airport safety. She declared, “TSA has consistently fallen short in basic program management.”
Inspector General for the Department Of Homeland security John Roth told the committee that they’d “found layers of security simply missing,” before adding, “The failures included failures in the technology, failures in TSA procedures, and human error.”
In response to this criticism, Peter Neffenger, who is the new TSA administrator, insisted after the hearing that they would now be conducting a “full system review.”
Neffenger insisted that he new adjustments needed to be made, but also stated that he and the TSA will never let up in their pursuit to achieve perfection. Neffenger explained, “The day you think you get the screening process, the security process, right is the day you will be defeated.”
Speaking about the issues that these oversights at the TSA could lead to, the report insists the security must be in place to stop terrorists that intelligence services don’t know about.
“In the vast majority of the instances, the identities of those who commit terrorist acts were simply unknown to or misjudged by the intelligence community.”
“Terrorism, especially suicide terrorism, depends on a cadre of newly-converted individuals who are often unknown to the intelligence community.”
“Moreover, the threat of ISIS or Al Qaeda inspired actors — those who have no formal ties to the larger organizations but who simply take inspiration from them — increases the possibilities of a terrorist actor being unknown to the intelligence community.”
The Oversight Hearing concluded by insisting that while changes to TSA’s security would be hard, they were necessary to maintain the safety of people that were travelling by air in the United States Of America. The report concluded with the following.
“Making critical changes to TSA’s culture, technology, and processes is not an easy undertaking.”
“However, a commitment to and persistent movement towards effecting such changes — including continued progress towards
complying with our recommendations — is paramount to ensuring transportation security.”
“We recognize and are encouraged by TSA’s steps towards compliance with our recent recommendations.”
“Without a sustained commitment to addressing known vulnerabilities, the agency risks
compromising the safety of the Nation’s transportation systems.”
[Image via Getty/Scott Olson]