October 19, 2007, - 10:14 am
By Debbie Schlussel
As I’ve been saying for a few years, we were safer BEFORE 9/11 than we are now, AFTER it. Now, there’s even more proof behind my statements.
I was away yesterday, flying to a major city to do a TV show. And wouldn’t you know, while I was removing my boots, jacket, sunglasses, and confining my liquid toiletries to a quart bag of 3-oz. containers all for the folks at the Transportation “Security” Administration (TSA), bombs were getting passed TSA screeners at Los Angeles’ LAX Airport and Chicago O’Hare 75% and 60% of the time(!), respectively.
I’d say, “Attention, Terrorists . . . ” with this story. But the terrorists already know. It’s just you, the great American masses–upon whom the joke is–who are in the dark. We’re not safe. The TSA screenings are not just window-dressing. They’re comedy–A waste of time. TSA screeners are Bud Abbott. We’re Lou Costello. Who’s on First? Bombs on Second Plane.
Yup, while I can’t have a tube of toothpaste that’s 4 ounces or an extra tube of lipgloss in my purse, undercover agents got these things through 75% of the time, according to a January 2007 classified TSA report, which excellent USA Today TSA-beat reporter Thomas Frank obtained:
* Detonator and explosive hidden in briefcase lining;
* Inert explosives inside CD players;
* Fake dynamite and timer in toiletry kit;
* Phony plastic explosive and battery inside hollowed-out book; and
* Inert explosives and detonator in back support concealed clothing.
All of these things got through security 75% and 60% of the time. You got 10 terrorists trying this, 7.5 of them will succeed at LAX and 6 of them at Chicago O’Hare.
And USA Today’s Frank reports that, like I’ve said, security is getting worse, NOT better:
A report on covert tests in 2002 found screeners failed to find fake bombs, dynamite and guns 24% of the time. The TSA ran those tests shortly after it took over checkpoint screening from security companies.
Tests earlier in 2002 showed screeners missing 60% of fake bombs. In the late 1990s, tests showed that screeners missed about 40% of fake bombs, according to a separate report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
More details to make you cringe:
Security screeners at two of the nation’s busiest airports failed to find fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as passengers in more than 60% of tests last year, according to a classified report obtained by USA TODAY.
Screeners at Los Angeles International Airport missed about 75% of simulated explosives and bomb parts that Transportation Security Administration testers hid under their clothes or in carry-on bags at checkpoints, the TSA report shows.
At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, screeners missed about 60% of hidden bomb materials that were packed in everyday carry-ons ‚Äî including toiletry kits, briefcases and CD players. San Francisco International Airport screeners, who work for a private company instead of the TSA, missed about 20% of the bombs, the report shows. The TSA ran about 70 tests at Los Angeles, 75 at Chicago and 145 at San Francisco.
Yup, private companies always do best what government does worst.
The report looks only at those three airports, using them as case studies to understand how well the rest of the U.S. screening system is working to stop terrorists from carrying bombs through checkpoints.
The failure rates at Los Angeles and Chicago stunned security experts.
“That’s a huge cause for concern,” said Clark Kent Ervin, the Homeland Security Department’s former inspector general. Screeners’ inability to find bombs could encourage terrorists to try to bring them on airplanes, Ervin said, and points to the need for more screener training and more powerful checkpoint scanning machines.
Screeners who miss detonators, timers, batteries and blocks that resemble plastic explosives get remedial training[, says TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe].
Well, that’s great if you’re on the plane that just blew up. No biggie, the TSA guy/chick who didn’t prevent my death will now get remedial training.
The failure rates at Los Angeles and Chicago are “somewhat misleading” because they don’t reflect screeners’ improved ability to find bombs, Howe said.
“Misleading”? I think a 75% failure rate is quite blunt and frank. You don’t need to be Einstein to understand it.
It’s actually quite simple: Terrorists have free reign at our airports, while we’re stuck in long lines getting undressed, felt up, and forced to dump our unopened water bottles.
We’re hassled and degraded, while those who want us dead are not. The terrorists have won.
Tags: Bud Abbott, Chicago, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Clark Kent Ervin, Congress, Dean Shaddock, Debbie Schlussel As, Detroitistan Metro Airport, Ellen Howe, Homeland Security Department, Inspector General, LAX Airport, Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles' LAX Airport, Lou Costello, San Francisco, San Francisco International Airport, spokeswoman, Thomas Frank, Transportation Security Administration, TSA-beat reporter, United States, USA Today