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Loaded Gun Slips Past TSA Screeners

According to one report, undercover TSA agents testing security at a Newark airport terminal on one day in 2006 found that TSA screeners failed to detect concealed bombs and guns 20 out of 22 times. A 2007 government audit leaked to USA Today revealed that undercover agents were successful slipping simulated explosives and bomb parts through Los Angeles's LAX airport in 50 out of 70 attempts, and at Chicago's O'Hare airport agents made 75 attempts and succeeded in getting through… ( Más...

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Ronald Padgett 0
I feel better about having my crotch groped now. Though I'd still like to have MY choice of screeners.
Pecolaguy 0
Wow, we need to wake up.
Toby Sharp 0
"I feel better about having my crotch groped now. Though I'd still like to have MY choice of screeners."

delphiniumeve 0
It is all security theater at this point. Intelligence is the way to get ahead - not behind - of the problem. I still contend that Israeli airline El Al does it better than just about anyone else.
Richard Hornsby 0
Failure rate: EWR 90%, ORD 71%, LAX 60%. I want the damn TSA *out* of airport security. Hire private agencies who come up with their OWN screening methods. They're audited with tests like this, and if they fail to detect 95% of major items (loaded guns) and some smaller percent of lesser items (ie liquids > 3oz), the company is fired.

But really, we need to screen for *people* not things. Call it racial profiling, behavioral profiling, call it smart police work, call it common sense, call it whatever you want. Keep the bad guys off the planes and there won't be anyone to use the bad stuff like a pocket knife or breast milk that manages to get carried aboard a plane.
Ronnie Mc 0
@Richard Hornsby
What happens if they do hire a private agency, and then a terrorist gets past them and causes more damage than 9/11, then what will people be saying? "Bring the TSA back"
Richard Hornsby 0
@Ronnie while I understand your point, a knee jerk reaction after the fact to put back in charge the same stooges who are right now failing an astonishing average of *73%* -- that is a *failure* rate, not a success rate -- is not a reason to continue to be held hostage, photographed naked, and sexually assaulted by Pistole, Napolitano, and the rest of TSA with their idiotic theatre.

The techniques employed by the TSA, as directed by DHS, are not only ineffective, they are illegal. That used to mean something in this country.
Jason Bischel 0
This is a perfect example on why racial profiling really does work. If this guy had been white, the TSA would have jumped him within 2 seconds. Since he wasn't white nobody did a damn thing because they were afraid of being sued for racism. If you're not white you can get away with murder and if you're not, you get to scream "racist" and sue.
amahran 0
wow...we had fingers shoved up our anus for no practical purpose?
delphiniumeve 0
For the record, El Al uses a combination of profiling methods...behavioral is the primary methodology. Highly trained teams approach and stand in line making social observations of folks checking in. Don't be a sucker for a couple of pretty women waiting in line in Israel...those may be the operatives who indicate folks for further checks. They also train the counter personnel and do not allow kiosk check in...they put their intelligence and TRAINING to work. The compusory military (and primarily in intelligence) service is virtually a pre-requisite for working for El Al. Of course, the down side is that we all would have to pay more for our airline tickets as this kind of training would cost more and the airline will pass on that cost.
Roger Deeringer 0
I'm no fan of TSA - but this news is 3-5 years old. What is th failure rate today.
Richard Hornsby 0
@Roger: we're just finding out *now* what the failure rate from 2006 is. Good luck getting anything more recent. Maybe you can ask Wikileaks to look into it for us. Short of that, no way TSA is going to tell us anything.
biz jets 0

Interesting video to watch, and in case your wonder a staff member has used it in the past for a suicide mission on a US jetliner (successfully).
biz jets 0 PSA Flight 1771 from wikipedia
Donald Fulton 0
"According to one report"? Who takes this stuff out of context? Why from 2006? Please don't believe all that you read.
Rick Wise 0
This is quite OLD news. Does anyone know what current audit stats tell. Are we better or worse at catching the bad guys?
TSA has failed to catch a single terrorist to date. Maybe what we are doing is forcing them to change their approach. Hmmmm.
Nige Lites 0
Re-arrange the words "Horse" and "Door" into a well known phrase or saying.
As the details of this incident have been reported no amount of Enhanced Pat-down, or Backscatter X-ray would have found the Loaded Gun on this occasion, even a full Strip Search with Cavity Examination would have missed it, because he was not carrying it on his person. Apparently it went through the normal Luggage X-ray, y'know, the one we've all been putting our hand luggage through for years.

After his laptop was (presumably) removed from the bag whatever remained would have to be a very tangled jumble of dense objects to obscure the distinctive outline of a Pistol. A picture that dense should be enough in it's self to warrant a Hand Search of the bag. Unless the X-ray Operator was simply looking the other way the whole time this bag passed through the machine.

Now re-arrange the words "Wheel" and "Asleep" into a well known phrase or saying.
The point is well taken that sitting staring at screen for long periods can result in gradually diminished attention. An effective human monitor should be fresh and alert and their time on that duty should be fairly limited with regular rotations of duty, and I suppose it would help if the environment was not too distracting. The average security check-point is normally a pretty hectic place, hardly a good situation to concentrate in.

There are a couple of things that current technology could perhaps do to enhance the process. We are starting to see Cars fitted with a device that detects if the driver is losing concentration. A small web-cam on top of the X-ray video monitor using Facial Recognition could tell if the Operator is not looking directly at the screen, and refuse to advance the belt until they are.

Using Shape Recognition a library could be compiled of 'Interesting Objects' and the video output of the X-ray could be scanned for a match. Computers are persistent but dumb, this would probably flag a number of 'False Positives', but if the Match is highlighted then a Operator would have their wandering attention directed to the suspicious object and apply a Human interpretation of the shape (we're supposed to be pretty good at this).

There are a couple of potential snags to be avoided with this scheme;
The Operator might abdicate responsibility to the Scanner, not really paying attention to the monitor until it flags something. There will always be anomalies that the Scanner misses, that a human might pick up on, maybe no specific shape is suspicious, but the overall arrangement of contents is unusual, or some object(s) appear out of context.

The danger of such a system for passengers is that with the particularly literal mindedness that Security Operatives the world over tend to apply, 'Any' Match would result in a full suite of Secondary Screening, regardless of whether the Flagged Item was an obvious False Positive or not.
My experience of Security around the world is that Common Sense is not a pre-requisite, and is in fact actively discouraged.

Applying an ever more pedantic approach to screening inevitably causes more inconvenience to the innocent passenger. It may discourage those of nefarious intent, it may even stop them altogether, but either way they have achieved a result by making the lives of those they target a little bit more miserable. And if they do still wish to circumvent the new procedures they just have to apply a little more ingenuity.

Ultimately any screening system that relies on a mechanistic or rote procedural approach can be bypassed with careful research and ingenuity. Well trained and (more importantly) well motivated humans are the best tools to analyse a situation. For best flow rate and convenience of passengers these humans also need to have, and be allowed to apply, some common sense so that they can distinguish between a suspicious circumstance and an innocent coincidence and act accordingly.

Returning to the Loaded Gun Incident, accepting that gun ownership in the USA is common and Citizens are legally allowed do carry concealed loaded weapons as they go about their daily business (I'm British, so I naturally feel a bit uncomfortable with this concept), a Loaded Gun is not a cell phone or a bunch of keys. I'd hope that a responsible Gun Owner would know 'At All Times' where their weapon was, especially when it was Loaded. If you're so absent minded that you forget where your gun is, and for that matter don't notice the bulk and weight of it in your bag, then perhaps you shouldn't be carrying one, even if you are allowed to.

To be fair to the guy, at least he did not just keep shtum when he realised, and had the guts to 'fess up. I bet he'll be a bit more careful what goes in his Checked Bag, and what's in his Hand Luggage in future.
WillisRF 0
Let's see......George W. Bush was President back then right? Wonder how the TSA people are doing now?
Philip Muth 0
TSA misses a loaded gun in an otherwise empty computer bag, and yet my Zippo lighter gets yanked from my checked bag at LAX during this same time period. Real consistent and effective security.
Paul Gray 0
US airport security? Theater of the absurd! Billions of dollars wasted on screening millions of travelers who pose no threat, and the dirty little secret remains that the probability of detecting guns, bombs, and knives is no better than it was prior to September 11, 2001. TSA spends vast amounts of money looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. Here’s an idea…remove the haystack! Government resources should be focused on keeping those that would to harm off of airplanes. Intelligent screening starts well outside the confines of the airport. It begins with cooperative Federal, state, and local intelligence efforts, knowing who is traveling, and yes…profiling!
Rick Wise 0
I agree with pbgray, time for intelligent profiling. We can start with TSA and fire anyone that doesn't have an IQ larger than there waist size!


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