Skip to navigationSkip to content

America’s TSA head loses his job after screeners miss an incredible 95% of weapons in an undercover test

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File
Not thorough enough…
By Hanna Kozlowska
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

To all of the frustrated travelers who have long suspected that US airport security procedures are an ineffective annoyance: You are correct.

Security screeners at America’s busiest airports failed to detect weapons and explosive in 67 out of 70 trials run by undercover investigators from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees the TSA, implicitly acknowledged the failure yesterday when it reassigned TSA’s acting administrator, Melvin Carraway, and ordered a revision of the TSA’s screening procedures, equipment tests and training procedures.

In the internal TSA investigation, first reported by ABC News, undercover DHS agents posing as passengers managed to get mock explosives and prohibited weapons through TSA checkpoints in nearly every attempt. In one case, an agent set off a metal detector, but TSA officers did not catch a fake explosive that was taped to his back in a subsequent pat-down.

The investigation also showed that the agency made no significant improvements since the last review in 2009, despite investments that included $540 million for baggage screening equipment and $11 million for training.

“We take these findings very seriously in our continued effort to test, measure and enhance our capabilities and techniques as threats evolve,” said Homeland Security’s chief Jeh Johnson. President Barack Obama has nominated Coast Guard Vice Admiral Pete Neffenger to run the TSA, but he has yet to be confirmed by lawmakers.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.