Acting TSA Head Removed From Post Following Security Failures

Melvin Carraway, the Acting Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, has been removed from his post after an internal review found airport security unable to detect fake explosives and weapons in 95 percent of tests.

Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said the removal is “Effective immediately” and that Carraway would be reassigned to the Office of State and Local Law Enforcement at DHS headquarters.

Taking Carraway’s place until a new acting administrator is appointed will be Acting Deputy Director, Mark Hatfield.

“I thank Melvin Carraway for his eleven years of service to TSA and his 36 years of public service to this nation,” Johnson said. He further urged the Senate to move forward with the confirmation of President Obama’s nominee to be the next TSA administrator, Coast Guard Vice Admiral Pete Neffenger, “as quickly as possible.”

Following the exposure of the TSA security failures Monday, uncovered by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security review — wherein “Red Teams” of agents posing as passengers were able to get contraband through security in 67 of 70 tests — Johnson also announced a series of changes to TSA security.

“The numbers in these reports never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security. We take these findings very seriously in our continued effort to test, measure and enhance our capabilities and techniques as threats evolve,” Johnson said in a statement Monday.

He noted that while the results the review is confidential he said the public should know the department is taking action to improve security in six specific ways.

First, I have directed TSA leadership to immediately revise its standard operating procedures for screening to address the specific vulnerabilities identified by the Inspector General’s testing.

Second, I have directed TSA to immediately brief the results of testing to the Federal Security Directors at every airport across the United States. 

Third, I have directed TSA to conduct training for all transportation security officers, in a phased fashion, in airports across the country, and intensive training for all supervisory personnel to address the specific vulnerabilities identified by the Inspector General’s testing.

Fourth, I have directed TSA, in phased fashion, to re-test and re-evaluate the screening equipment currently in use at airports across the United States.  As a related matter, I personally intend to meet with senior executives of the contractors involved in the development of the equipment at issue to communicate to them the importance of their assistance in our efforts to investigate and remedy the deficiencies highlighted by the Inspector General. 

Fifth, I am asking the Inspector General and TSA to conduct continued random covert testing to assess the effectiveness of these and other measures to improve airport security.  

Sixth, I am appointing a team of TSA and DHS senior leaders to oversee and ensure timely implementation of these actions.  I will remain personally engaged in this effort, and will ask the team to report its progress to me on a bi-weekly basis.

Johnson added that in the long term he expects TSA to check all screening equipment and has called on TSA and the Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology to consider new technologies to take on the threats.

“I continue to have confidence in the TSA workforce. Last fiscal year TSA screened a record number of passengers at airports in the United States, and, at the same time, seized a record number of prohibited items.  TSA and the Inspector General are constantly testing and adapting the systems we have in place as part of our commitment to aviation security,” he said.


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