TSA failed to find 95 percent of mock explosives and weapons in recent test

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It’s surprisingly easy to get weapons through security checkpoints at American airports, according to a new internal investigation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

An exclusive report published on Monday by ABC News revealed that undercover investigators with the Department of Homeland Security’s so-called “Red Teams” had a 95-percent success rate when attempting to smuggle mock explosives and banned weapons through dozens of the nation’s busiest airports.

Citing officials briefed on the report, ABC News said that TSA agents failed a total of 67 out of 70 checkpoint tests. The time period over which the tests were conducted is unknown, but an unnamed official told reporters they concluded recently.

ABC News also reported that during one test, a pretend would-be terrorist set off an alarm, but then a TSA screener conducting a subsequent pat-down failed to notice the fake explosive device taped to his back. In 2013 during a similar test, a DHS Red Team agent with knowledge of TSA procedures managed to get a fake bomb through airport security.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson reportedly ordered a series of changes to address the security vulnerabilities disclosed in the new report, which are said to be now in place. The changes were not specifically identified by the agency.

TSA operates a popular Instagram account with over 281,000 followers, which it primarily uses to post photographs of weapons and other illegal items confiscated at security checkpoints. As of May 28, agents at Tampa International Airport had confiscated 21 loaded guns this year alone. 

H/T ABC News | Photo via Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.