Undercover operation reveals gaps in TSA screenings

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An undercover operation revealed TSA screenings at airports fail most of the time.

Investigators found many times screeners missed spotting test weapons and test bombs at baggage checkpoints.

The news about security failures comes at a time when millions of people are getting ready to travel for the holidays.

Word of those security lapses has some travelers at RDU International Airport worried.

“It’s a little spooky,” says Jerry Wright. “From all the things you see on TV, it’s scary I guess.”

CBS News reports that in a classified briefing, Homeland Security investigators revealed that more than 70 percent of the time, undercover officers was able to get through TSA checkpoints with mock knives, guns and explosives.

Just two years ago, testing found a 95 percent failure rate.

“We found that briefing disturbing,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, who is the chairman of House Homeland Security Committee.

A TSA spokesman told CBS North Carolina Thursday that because the results of the tests are classified he couldn’t comment, but he did confirm testing is conducted at RDU.

TSA Spokesman Michael England also told CBS North Carolina, “to date this year, TSA agents have discovered 45 firearms at RDU” and “confiscated hundreds of pounds of prohibited items —
including knives.”

Congress and the TSA want to add state of the art 3D scanners that can also detect explosives at security checkpoints, but those scanners are expensive and there’s no money for it right now.

“To invest in the CT technology requires funding above what the TSA currently has,” said TSA administrator David Pekoske.

But, some travelers we spoke with weren’t worried about the TSA checkpoints at RDU saying they are satisfied with current security procedures.

“I think they’re doing a good job. I always feel safe and comfortable when I get on a plane here,” says Roberta Bergeron.

Even so, experts say airports remain a high priority target for terrorists.

“They’re looking for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. We need to make sure that we can push that as far as we can to minimize the risk, said Frank Cilluffo who is the former director the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

After results of the undercover screening tests were revealed to congress, eight classified recommendations were made.

The TSA says it takes those recommendations seriously and is already implementing measures to improve screenings at checkpoints.

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