Several people walked into Albany International Airport in Colonie, N.Y., in late June, carry-on bags stuffed full of bomb parts, and strolled to the security checkpoint.
Transportation Security Administration screeners seized every bottle of water from all of them.
Fortunately, it was only a test.
In the surprise inspection, conducted in June, screeners failed five out of the seven tests by missing the fake bomb parts and other prohibited items which federal inspectors attempt to smuggle past TSA screeners.
But they did manage to find all the bottled water.
Paul Varville, the TSA’s security director at Albany International, could not be reached for comment.
Ann Davis, a TSA spokeswoman, declined to discuss the circumstances of the covert test at Albany International.
“We don’t discuss the results because they tend to paint an inaccurate picture of the competency of our work force,” she said. “The tests are designed to be incredibly difficult and TSA does anticipate a fair level of failure.” — Albany Times-Union
The TSA has said that employees who fail these tests are immediately retrained. But Dave Erickson, a former TSA screening manager at Albany International Airport and retired U.S. Army major, says that poor training is precisely the problem.
“I feel bad for the employees because a lot of them are good honest people. But if you’re not trained properly, what can you do?” Erickson wondered.
He claims the problems are training and employee turnover.
Erickson was fired in 2004 after only six months on the job. However, just three months earlier he was given glowing remarks describing him as “accurate” and “effective.” It also said he had “significantly improved the security of airline travel.”
“I started to question what type of training program we had and when I spoke out about it, that’s when I had troubles,” Erickson said. — WNYT-TV
Erickson is suing the Department of Homeland Security for being wrongfully terminated from his job.
In Red Team testing at Denver earlier this year, screeners missed 90% of fake guns and explosives smuggled through checkpoints. And tests at Newark Liberty International Airport last year found pretty much the same thing. As did a classified Government Accountability Office investigation of 21 airports a year ago.
I admit I’m afraid to fly, but it’s not because of the airplanes, it’s because of the “security.” Nationalizing airport security hasn’t improved a thing, and has only made matters worse.
(Thanks to Screeners Central, the largest unofficial web site for TSA screeners, for this story.)