The Transportation Safety Administration's sole mission is to protect aircraft and their passengers from airborne threats, but an upcoming Department of Homeland Security report reveals that the agency is failing at that basic task. According to ABC News, the TSA failed to detect banned weapons and fake explosives smuggled in by undercover Homeland Security agents a whopping 95 percent of the time.
ABC News reports that the internal investigation took place over the course of the last decade, and revealed security failures at some of the busiest airports in the country. The DHS deployed so-called Red Teams — agents former TSA administrator John Pistole once called "super terrorists" — to take advantage of precise weak points in airport security. The investigation showed that TSA agents missed dangerous objects 67 times out of 70 tests.
A stunning rate of failure
The full report is still being written, and is expected to be released this summer. A Homeland Security spokesperson did note to CNN that "the numbers in these reports never look good out of context," and indeed, the Red Teams were designed to take advantage of flaws presumably ordinary terrorists wouldn't be able to exploit. However, 95 percent represents a stunning rate of failure, and DHS Security Secretary Jeh Johnson reportedly ordered the agency to "implement a series of actions, several of which are now in place, to address the issues raised in the report."
The TSA has already come under fire in recent months for its security programs. Earlier this year, The Intercept obtained documents showing that the agency's behavior detection program is not only laughably vague, pointing toward yawning passengers as potential terrorists, but is quietly being used to detect immigration violations.