TSA can’t find real bombs either

The excuse we hear from the Transportation Security Administration when yet another report comes out finding that its screeners miss the majority of simulated bomb components that testers attempt to bring through airport checkpoints is that the tests are designed to be difficult and nobody would be able to get away with it if they were real bomb components.

Yet investigators with no insider knowledge were able to smuggle real bomb components, sufficient to assemble powerful improvised explosive devices based on liquid explosives, past the TSA at 19 separate airports, according to a report released November 15.

Government Accountability Office investigators found plans to build IEDs and so-called improvised incendiary devices, or IIDs, on the Internet, and bought all the parts on the Internet and at a brick and mortar store for about $150.

Then, to test their devices, they went to a junkyard to blow things up, and made a video of the destructive potential of the devices they would soon smuggle past TSA screeners:

Then it was off to the airport. In none of its covert tests did GAO report that TSA discovered any of the bomb components. But in one case, a screener seized the investigator’s shampoo, according to the report (PDF).

This time the TSA’s excuse was that they already knew about the security problems which allowed GAO investigators to smuggle real bombs past screeners at 19 separate airports.

TSA Assistant Administrator Ellen Howe played down the GAO’s conclusions, saying that in the same three months during which the GAO conducted 38 tests, the agency conducted 200,000 tests of its operations as screeners cleared 2 million passengers a day. She said the TSA deploys and continually refines 19 layers of security, including bomb experts, behavior observation teams, personnel trained to review identity documents and new generations of detection equipment.

“There is nothing in the report that is news to us . . . that we were not working on, or don’t already know,” Howe said. “It’s like a combination lock. If you get through one layer of security, it doesn’t mean you get through all layers of security.” She added: “We don’t change security procedures in knee-jerk fashion.” — Washington Post

TSA regulations state that passengers can bring small amounts of liquids and gels in containers no larger than 3 ounces, contained in a clear one-quart plastic bag. In one of the covert tests, the investigator used a larger bag, but was allowed to pass. The specific methods used to evade detection and the construction of the explosive devices were not disclosed.

If most of those 19 layers of “security” weren’t actually just Airport Security Theater 3000, then perhaps it wouldn’t be quite so easy to get bombs onto a plane. But incompetence is the best you can hope for since government nationalized airport security Chavez-style. The worst you can possibly get, though, with government providing “security” is plain to see. Anyone with a few bucks and an Internet connection can wreak havoc on the whole air transportation system. It’s time to get rid of the TSA and put airport security back where it belongs.

One thought on “TSA can’t find real bombs either

  • January 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm
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    Instead of taking on an “If you don’t like it, leave” attitude, I’d rather take an “If you don’t like it, fix it” attitude. Use the system to fix the system.

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