• United States



Big fat FAIL: TSA unable to find Red Teams’ fake bombs and weapons 67 of 70 times

Jun 02, 20154 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

The TSA Chief was kicked from his position after the TSA failed 95% of the time to detect fake bombs and weapons smuggled through airport security checkpoints. It's no big surprise that proposals to fix TSA security theater involve throwing more money at it.

Security theater implies fake security and the TSA, one of the biggest fake security agencies in the U.S., failed 67 out of 70 times to find fake bombs smuggled through airport security checkpoints by fake terrorists.

While posing as passengers, Homeland Security Red Teams conducted covert tests at “dozens” of the nation’s busiest airports. They were able to get mock explosives or banned weapons through TSA security checkpoints a whopping 95% of the time.

In one case, an undercover agent was stopped after the fake explosive device taped to his back set off an alarm; during the pat down, however, the TSA screener managed to completely miss the fake bomb.

After ABC reported on the TSA’s abysmal record for finding potential deadly devices, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson reassigned Melvin Carraway, the Acting Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration; instead of the TSA, Carraway will work in the Office of State and Local Law Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.

The unnamed officials who leaked the TSA’s test results to ABC would not divulge anything other than “recently” as to when the tests were conducted.

When the TSA miserably failed covert testing to detect the Red Team’s fake bomb in 2013, TSA blogger Bob said, “It’s important to note that this specific covert test was only testing one of the 20 layers of security.” The “other layers include behavior detection officers, travel document checkers, intelligence gathering and analysis, checking passenger manifests against watch lists, random canine team searches, and more security measures both visible and invisible to the public.”

“The numbers in these reports never look good out of context,” Johnson said about the classified preliminary test results before announcing fixes to “enhance our security capabilities and techniques.”

Oh goodie, let’s throw more money at it.

Some of the proposed solutions involve revising TSA standard operating screening procedures and briefing Federal Security Directors at all U.S. airports about the test results. Other than that, Johnson proposed corrective steps to deal with the TSA’s newest big fat fail. And surprise, surprise … the solutions for fixing security theater involve throwing more money at it.

  • The TSA will “conduct training for all transportation security officers, in a phased fashion, in airports across the country, and intensive training for all supervisory personnel to address the specific vulnerabilities identified by the Inspector General’s testing.”
  • The TSA will “re-test and re-evaluate the screening equipment currently in use at airports across the United States.”
  • There will be more random and covert testing in order to “access the effectiveness” of the newest proposed measures to improve airport security.

Johnson added, “I have also directed TSA and the Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology to examine adopting new technologies to address the vulnerabilities identified by the Inspector General’s testing.”

Hopefully, those new technologies won’t further encroach on our rights. Years ago, it was said that the TSA’s plan for the future was to to track all of our travel…whether that meant going to work, to the grocery store, or out to play. It still seems unbelievable that each and every passenger has to submit to pat-downs – something the police do to suspected criminals – if the TSA deems it necessary.

Johnson also pointed out that the “TSA screened a record number of passengers at airports in the United States, and, at the same time, seized a record number of prohibited items” during the last fiscal year. That statement seems odd since Red Team testing pointed to the utter failure of the TSA.

Lastly, Johnson urged the Senate to confirm President Obama’s nomination to lead the TSA; until Coast Guard Vice Admiral Pete Neffenger or someone else is appointed as Acting Administrator, Acting Deputy Director Mark Hatfield will lead the TSA.

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.