US lawmakers and federal watchdogs on Tuesday derided the Transportation Security Administration’s ability, or lack thereof, to adequately detect weapons and other contraband during the passenger screening process at the nation’s airports.
“In looking at the number of times people got through with guns or bombs in these covert testing exercises it really was pathetic. When I say that I mean pitiful,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), speaking Tuesday during a House Oversight hearing concerning classified reports from federal watchdogs. “Just thinking about the breaches there, it’s horrific,” he added.
Auditors from the Inspector General’s Office, posing as travelers, discovered enormous loopholes in the TSA’s screening process. A leaked classified report this summer found that as much as 95 percent of contraband, like weapons and explosives, got through during clandestine testings. Lynch’s comments were in response to the classified report’s findings.
“The failures included failures in the technology, failures in TSA procedures, and human error,” Inspector General John Roth told (PDF) the committee. “We found layers of security simply missing.”
Jennifer Grover, of the General Accounting Office, told the committee that the “TSA has consistently fallen short in basic program management.”
At the hearing, Peter Neffenger, the new TSA administrator, said the agency was undertaking a “full system review.”
Neffenger said the agency was also retraining screeners and is considering using dogs to search passengers as well.
“The day you think you get the screening process, the security process, right is the day you will be defeated,” Neffenger said.