When investigators concluded that Russia’s Metrojet airliner was blown out of the Egyptian sky by a bomb smuggled through lax airport security in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Department of Homeland Security expressed concerns that American airports might also be vulnerable.
Those concerns appear validated by an NBC news investigative report, in which Today correspondent Jeff Rossen and his team tried smuggling banned items past the Transportation Security Agency and succeeded on three out of four attempts:
The investigation was prompted by a man named Blake Alford, who said he was able to slip a loaded gun onto a flight out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on November 5. This gentleman did not put any effort into fooling our multi-billion dollar federalized airport security system – he did not know he was carrying the gun. He said he forgot it was tucked into his backpack when he took his flight to Chicago.
“People need to know TSA needs to tighten up,” said Alford, shaken by his success at inadvertently bringing a gun onto an airplane. “If they’ll take toothpaste… they’ll make people get out of wheelchairs. They’ll make me take off my belt buckle and my shoes. How did my gun go through?”
NBC’s report mentions the TSA’s own dismal internal performance evaluation, in which banned items were successfully moved past security checkpoints 67 out of 70 times. Based on Rossen’s investigation, it does not look as if things have been tightened up much since the Metrojet attack, despite all those high-paid officials expressing grave concern to congressional committees.
He personally was stopped trying to smuggle a Swiss army knife in his luggage, but his team succeeded in getting another knife, a pair of scissors, and even box cutters – the 9/11 hijackers’ weapon of choice! – past the TSA, by doing nothing more than stuffing the weapons into their bags. One of his producers got a Swiss army knife past the screeners in her handbag.
Billions of dollars spent, tens of thousands of unionized federal employees hired, countless hours of traveler time wasted on security theater, and people can waltz past the TSA with weapons 75 percent of the time, making minimal efforts to conceal them.