New Investigation Shows TSA Screenings Often Don't Spot Banned Objects

Undercover tests conducted by the Department of Homeland Security found a 20 per cent success rate and revealed'vulnerabilities at security checkpoints across US airports

Undercover operatives from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) were able to smuggle contraband through USA airports at a high rate, according to a new report shared with a Congressional committee.

When pressed to get the failure rate, ABC News was told by a source that 80 percent failure was "in the ballpark".

"We found that briefing disturbing", said Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

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Air passengers have long grumbled about the annoyances of TSA security lines and the increasingly onerous restrictions imposed when flying.

Despite TSA's incredibly poor evaluation on the undercover tests this year, in 2015, DHS found that the agency failed 95 percent of tests aimed at stopping covert inspectors from smuggling weapons, explosive materials or other potentially deadly objects through screening. In that test, operatives successfully smuggled both fake weapons and fake explosives through airport security.

The briefing and committee hearing on Wednesday came nine days after a terrorist attack in New York City involving a truck left eight people dead.

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The program started in July and has slowly expanded across the country to 280 airports in response to what the Department of Homeland Security calls increased threats to aviation security.

The security measures now require that travelers take out any electronic devices larger than a cellphone and place them in separate bins during the security check. The prototype systems are in Phoenix and Boston, he said. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told TSA Administrator David Pekoske, "This agency that you run is broken badly and it needs your attention".

Committee member Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., noted that $1.28 billion, being charged to the public through surcharges, is being taken away for deficit reduction.

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The TSA said in its release, that it is pursuing areas where it can make investments to implement credential authentication technology, automated screening lanes and computed tomography. Thompson pointed out that it "has consistently struggled with low morale across the workforce, ranking 303 out of 305 government agencies in 2016".

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