Agents Successfully Sneak Weapons Through 90 Percent Of The
Security screeners at Denver
International Airport have some explaining to do. Last month,
Transportation Security Administration screeners failed to find
simulated weapons and explosive materials carried through by
undercover agents roughly nine times out of 10.
And they can't blame the equipment. According to Denver's
KUSA-9, alarms sounded on screening machines when they encountered
suspect devices, just as they're supposed to -- but screeners
failed to then follow standard procedures, such as hand-searching
luggage and conducting closer inspections of suspect
"The good news is we have our own people probing and looking and
examining the system," said Colorado congressman Ed Perlmutter, a
member of the House homeland security and transportation
committees. "The bad news is they're finding weaknesses."
Items used in the tests included liquid explosives and weapons
inside carry-on luggage. In one case, an agent even taped an
improvised explosive device to her leg... and convinced the
screener it was a bandage from surgery, despite the alarms wailing
in the background.
KUSA cites sources who state the TSA's Red Team -- a group
originally formed by the FAA following the 1988 bombing of Pan Am
Flight 103 over Lockerbie, to test security procedures at the
nation's airports -- was able to sneak approximately 90 percent of
its simulated weapons past screeners at DEN.
TSA Security Director Ed Morris said the poor test results show
the Red Team is doing its job -- crafting difficult tests, to keep
screeners on their toes.
"We could put these tests together so that we have a 100 percent
success rate every single time," Morris said. "Then, they wouldn't
be challenging, they wouldn't be realistic and they really wouldn't
be stretching the limits and the imagination of the Transportation
Morris added other agents not connected to the Red Team also
conduct security checks... and the agency's screeners pass most of
"If they miss something that's obvious, ... we will pull them
off the line and retrain them," Morris said.
Morris' explanation doesn't quite match up with a study by the
Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General and
the US Government Accountability Office, though, which in 2006
discovered widespread failures very similar to those uncovered by
the Red Team at DEN.
In those tests, screeners at 15 airports missed 90 percent of
the guns and explosives agents tried to sneak past TSA
"We understand that security is not perfect in every aspect, but
we understand that we go about trying to be perfect every single
day," Morris said.
And as we all know, perfection is hard to find... especially
when smuggled through by an undercover agent...