If you're planning on taking a summer vacation this year, you might want to consider driving to your destination after reading this. Most folks probably assume that airport security looks pretty tight. Tall fences surround the facilities while layers of armed TSA agents and X-ray screening equipment separate you from your plane.
But all those efforts might be a lot less secure than they appear at dozens of the nation's busiest airports. Undercover tests by the Department of Homeland Security exposed some glaring holes in airport security that potentially put planes and passengers at risk.
Here's how the tests worked. Secret "Red Teams" disguised as ordinary passengers tried to smuggle weapons and fake explosives past TSA agents and checkpoints. The results of the review are terrifying as the teams were were successful in a staggering number of attempts. How staggering? The fake weapons were slipped through during 95% of the 70 tests.
In addition, the review determined that despite spending $540 million for checked baggage screening equipment and another $11 million for training since a previous review in 2009, the TSA failed to make any noticeable improvements in that time.
News reports describe how one undercover agent sneaked a bomb through a TSA checkpoint. Apparently the airport metal detector sounded, prompting a hand pat-down by TSA agents. Yet despite the hands-on examination, the check point agents failed to detect a fake bomb strapped to the undercover investigator's back.
In the past, the TSA has claimed that DHS Red Teams have specialized knowledge of TSA protocols that no terrorist could have access to. Despite this excuse, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is taking action to improve security at airports.
“Upon learning the initial findings of the Office of Inspector General's report, Secretary Johnson immediately directed TSA to implement a series of actions, several of which are now in place, to address the issues raised in the report,” the DHS said in a written statement to ABC News.
The DHS also recently performed tests on baggage screening and found security issues due to "human error and technological failures."
Do you feel secure at our nation's airports? Please let me know in the comment section below.