US airports fail security testing, reforms ordered

Internal investigation by Transportation Security Administration reveals vulnerabilities in airport security, with acting head of TSA reassigned after five months on job

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called for revised airport security measures on Monday after an internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security found undercover agents were able to smuggle prohibited items through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints 95 percent of the time.

Screeners failed to catch 67 items such as mock explosives or weapons in 70 airports across the United States, including a fake bomb taped to an agent’s back even after the agent was patted down.

TSA’s inspector general briefed Johnson on a classified report on the subject, the results of which Johnson would not elaborate on, except to say he takes the findings “very seriously.”

In the wake of failed tests at security checkpoints, Johnson has urged the TSA to revise airport security procedures, retrain officers and retest screening equipment in US airports.

Johnson said that for the longer term, he has advised the TSA and the DHS to “examine adopting new technologies to address the vulnerabilities identified by the Inspector General’s testing,” NPR reported.

Johnson has also removed duty as the Acting Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, Melvin Carraway.

Carraway, who had been acting administrator since January, is an 11-year veteran of the TSA. He has been reassigned to a Department of Homeland Security program coordinating with local law enforcement agencies.

In a statement released on the TSA website, Johnson said: “The president has nominated Coast Guard Vice Admiral Pete Neffenger to be the next Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. I urge the Senate to confirm this nomination as quickly as possible.”

TRTWorld and agencies