The Transportation Security Administration loves to impress the general public with its security theater, sending out a weekly update on how many guns and knives it’s collected from ordinary travelers, as well as drug busts and other illegal activities that are beyond scope but required to be reported to the relevant authorities.
What it doesn’t usually mention are the number of arrests resulting from these discoveries — a telling sign that suggests what we already know: most of these weapons are the result of people who forgot, weren’t informed, or simply didn’t care. Actual terrorists would be on the nightly news. Instead, we get stories about how samurai swords are the next great risk to passenger safety.
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But as ABC News reported yesterday, the TSA’s own recent tests failed miserably. 67 out of 70 fake weapons or explosives managed to get through security check points when “Red Team” members posed as passengers — a 95% failure rate. The Red Team has been described as “super terrorists” by former TSA administrator John Pistole because they already know the TSA’s vulnerabilities and are trained to exploit them. But that’s not a good excuse because it implies that failure is acceptable, that there’s no hope of success.
I hope the TSA doesn’t work under the assumption that their enemy is an idiot. All the millions of dollars invested and millions of hours wasted in line should be able to stop someone who knows what he’s doing. That’s why we put up with it.
It would seem that secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson agrees with me, because the acting administrator, Melvin Carraway, was replaced this morning according to the New York Times.
Still, Mr. Johnson’s excuse remains weak and in the same pattern as Mr. Pistole’s, citing “specific vulnerabilities.” These included a fake plastic explosive that was attached to someone’s back, which set off an alarm but was still missed by a physical pat down — one of the more invasive security screening procedures available. If a pat down can’t find weapons and explosives, should we all just strip naked?