Though Americans have always been a little weary about boarding an airplane, especially after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, but now results of an undercover study in which the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) failed to detect 95 percent of fake explosives and weapons, have left Americans feeling even more unsafe. Deemed the “red team tests” the Department of Homeland Security ran undercover operations at several of the largest airports across the United States. What they found is something that the chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz called “deeply alarming.” The fact is that the government has spent over $540 million on equipment for the TSA to succeed in detecting security threats, but in fact the tests that Homeland Security ran show that the millions spent did not really help much.
Citizens have often worked to prove that the TSA, even with equipment and training, are ill-equipped to keep terrorists from getting on planes, most of the time. Having run their own personal tests, information about the lack of proper security at airports, since 9/11 has long been posted, often with lengthy and surprising stories to go with them. One such story was an article posted on The Atlantic in 2008. Titled The Things He Carried, the story became the prime example of just how lacking the TSA was in their security measures. Though they went through all of the movements that they had been tirelessly taught, in order to detect dangerous items in people’s luggage or on their person, often times author Jeffrey Goldberg was able to sneak such things past security. Partnering with a security expert named Bruce Schneier meant that Goldberg could do even more, as far as sneaking past dangerous things and even printing and using fake boarding passes, to thwart having to use I.D. Asking questions to those at the TSA headquarters, Jeffrey brought up the lack of security measures that he was able to find, but said that they were less than willing to look into the matters, believing the he was either not bringing up real issues, or not telling the story so truthfully. Either way his reports and testimonies provided information to ordinary U.S. citizens, for years.
However, now the most recent report has only proven what nearly everybody already knew. Security at the airports is not all that it is suppose to be. Sources report that the Department of Homeland Security has been checking into the TSA at different locations, throughout the years, claiming that they usually are able to detect most of the threats and stating that the numbers always look bad on paper. However, the most recent reports, taken from efforts at several different airports across the nation, have now proven that the TSA is even more under prepared, than they were in 2007. According to sources, the most recent check into the security system at airports, saw the TSA missing 95 percent of fake explosives and weapons, which Homeland Security officials were able to sneak past, leaving Americans feeling very unsafe about boarding planes in the future. Failing 67 out of 70 tests, the TSA caused Jason Chaffetz to become concerned, as he stated that millions had been spent in government resources trying to keep Americans safe on planes, but he said that he is not sure that they have anything to show for it.
As a result of the failed red team tests, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson immediately recommended measures to the TSA, many of which sources claim have already been implemented. Though no one yet knows what these measures are, it is apparent that Homeland Security will be working on ways to better security at airports. Chaffetz stated that the government needs to learn that the most effective ways are not always the most expensive, as he stated that he has always been in favor of using a bomb sniffing K9 team.
However the government decides to handle the lack of security by TSA at airports, the fact is that Americans feel unsafe about boarding planes, especially after the new report found that the TSA failed to detect 95 percent of the fake weapons and explosives that the Department of Homeland Security was able to sneak through. This is alarming to citizens who have gone through time consuming, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and sometimes embarrassing checks at the TSA security points, only to learn that it is still possible that even after all of that, a terrorist could still get on board and take the lives of them and/or their family. Though thousands of planes fly everyday with no problem, former TSA administrator John Pistole claims that terrorists are still interested in bringing down U.S. aircraft, and terrorism experts still claim that there is great threat to the aviation system in America. Should a terrorist decide to get on board, recent data collected show that they may just be able to.
By Crystal Boulware
NBC: TSA Failed 95 Percent of Breach Tests Letting Weapons, Fake Bombs Through
CNN: TSA screeners failed tests to detect explosives, weapons
The Atlantic: The Things He Carried
Photo Courtesy of Transportation Security Administration Wikimedia Page – Public Domain License