Mock explosives, weapons go undetected at US airports

Mock explosives, weapons go undetected at US airports

Mock explosives, weapons go undetected at US airports

In a shocking lapse, undercover US investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives and weapons through checkpoints at many of America's busiest airports in 95 per cent of the trials, prompting a shake up of the country's Transportation Security Administration.

The spokesperson said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson directed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to take "a series of actions, several of which are now in place," to address the issues the 'Red Team' tests identified.

Johnson also issued a statement saying that Melvin Carraway, the acting administrator for the TSA, would be reassigned. Mark Hatfield, acting deputy director, will take over until a new acting administrator is appointed.

The move came after an internal TSA investigation showed security failures at dozens of the nation's busiest airports, where undercover investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 per cent of trials, according to ABC News.
The series of tests were conducted by Homeland Security 'Red Teams' who posed 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.

According to ABC News, in one test an undercover agent was stopped after setting off an alarm at a magnetometer, but TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow-on pat down.

Officials, however, did not divulge the exact time period of the testing other than to say it concluded recently.

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 officials were quoted as saying that these were disappointing results.

This is not the first time the TSA has had trouble spotting 'Red Team' agents.
A similar episode played out in 2013, when an undercover investigator with a fake bomb hidden on his body passed through a metal detector, went through a pat-down at New Jersey's Newark Liberty Airport, and was never caught.

More recently, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general's office concluded a series of undercover tests targeting checked baggage screening at airports across the country.
That review found "vulnerabilities" throughout the system, attributing them to human error and technological failures.

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