Tag Archives: Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

Update: Two Years Later the TSA is STILL Keeping You Safe Five Percent of the Time

Transportation Security Administration TSA Failed 95 Percent

Once again, TSA inspectors have failed to find 95% of the mock weapons sent through checkpoints by Homeland Security agents working undercover.

Just over two years ago, in June of 2015, I posted about tests Homeland Security had run at airports across the country. In those tests, undercover agents were sent through pre-boarding checkpoints run by the Transportation Security Administration. (Video from that original post is embedded below.)

Those agents carried realistic looking weapons and explosive devices past TSA screeners in order to determine how often the “weapons” would be detected. This included replicas of pistols, knives, nunchucks, tasers, ammunition, and even defused hand grenades.

Out of 70 items that should have been stopped, TSA screeners found a grand total of three of them. As I noted, at the time that translates to a failure rate of 95%. Not exactly a number that will make you feel happy as you stand in the giant line at the security checkpoint next time you fly somewhere.

Surely they’ve addressed those issues in those 2+ years and improved dramatically, though. After all, you could seemingly stumble into a higher level of success just by randomly guessing which passengers have some sort of contraband in their luggage. Right?

Not so much, according to the Washington Times:

Undercover federal agents successfully snuck drugs and explosives past security screeners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last week, according to the local Fox affiliate.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducted the test last Thursday by sending agents disguised as ordinary passengers into the airport in order to see if screeners were up to snuff, KMSP reported.

The TSA “red team” attempted to smuggle 18 different items past airport security that should easily be detected but prevailed almost every time, the Fox affiliate reported.

“In most cases, they succeeded in getting the banned items through. 17 out of 18 tries by the undercover federal agents saw explosive materials, fake weapons or drugs pass through TSA screening undetected,” KMSP reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the operation.
In fact, it could have even been worse this time:

The security test was ultimately abandoned once the TSA’s failure rate reached 95 percent, the station reported.

So, before the Mercy Rule was invoked, the TSA screeners in Minneapolis had successfully found a weapon being smuggled onto a plane once. Which, like 2015, equates to just five percent of the time.

Basically, when you eliminate groping people; especially underage passengers, taking lewd photos of unsuspecting women, and stealing shit out of your luggage, they just aren’t very proficient at what they do. (To be fair, they do seem to be pretty good at finding spare change passengers being subjected to their ineffectual security theater leave behind.)

Truth be told, they actually couldn’t be much less useful (and would be quite a bit less annoying and exploitative) if they just slept through their shift, like the guy in the picture at the top of this post.

Minneapolis – St. Paul TSA Screeners Fail Yet Again

Successful Five Percent of the Time in 2015

Groping People to Keep You Safe Almost Never

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Secret Service Agents Retaliated Against Congressman’s Criticismby Illegally Accessing Private Info in Attempt

Secret Service Rep Chaffetz Retaliation
One Secret Service agent resigned and forty others have received “some level” of discipline after they illegally accessed background information on Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz. The intended purpose of the background inquiries were to find embarrassing information on Rep. Chaffetz that could be used to retaliate against him by smearing his name publicly.

Although he doesn’t seem to have received any level of discipline, Secret Service Assistant Director Ed Lowery encouraged the illegal searches, stating in an email that “some information [Chaffetz] finds embarrassing needs to get out.” Ironically enough, the identity of the specific agents disciplined for violating the Privacy Act cannot be named publicly because that would violate the Privacy Act.

Pretty convenient (wink, wink).

Via TechDirt.com:

When Rep. Jason Chaffetz began asking the Secret Service about its string of high-profile failures, agents were quick to respond… with attempts to undermine the Congressman’s credibility. Eighteen minutes after the hearings started, Secret Service agents — dozens of them — began poring through his 2003 Secret Service application in hopes of finding a few skeletons in his previously-vetted closet.

Even Secret Service Assistant Director Ed Lowery got in on the illegal fun, suggesting via email that “some information [Chaffetz] finds embarrassing needs to get out.” Information did get out, but it had no effect on Chaffetz’s reputation. The only people embarassed (sic) were the Secret Service and DHS head Jeh Johnson, who was forced to apologize on its behalf.

Johnson’s press release, detailing the results of the DHS’s investigation of the incident, shows dozens were questioned about this violation of the Privacy Act. Better yet, it shows dozens were punished for their misconduct.

  • “In all, the conduct of 57 Secret Service personnel was reviewed, including 11 at the SES [Senior Executive Service] level. Of those, 41 are receiving some level of discipline. This discipline includes a letter of reprimand to one individual, suspended discipline contingent on no further misconduct for a period of five years, and suspensions from duty without pay for periods of up to 45 days. The one individual found by the Inspector General to have disclosed the private information to an outside source, the Washington Post, has resigned from the Secret Service.”

As is often the case, the employee whose misconduct was the worst slipped out the door before the hammer could come down. As for the rest, the sheer number of Secret Service personnel involved shows this agency is no less susceptible to peer pressure and bandwagon jumping than the occupants of the average high school locker room.

Rest assured, this sort of misconduct won’t rear its ugly head again, because top Secret Service officials say Things are being Done.

  • “Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the Inspector General’s report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service. From Director Clancy, I have been told that tighter processes are now in place to limit access to personally identifiable information and to highlight for employees the consequences of a breach of that data.”

I’d love to know what these “tighter processes” are. Hopefully it’s something more than post-login clickwrap saying something to the effect of “user agrees to abide by all policies and statutes” with an “OK” button being the only thing standing between them and dirt on legislators they don’t like.

I’m sure they’ve learned their lesson and, along with not stiffing their hookers (no pun intended) or getting drunk and crashing into the White House gate, they now know better than to run illegal background check to dig up dirt on people that criticize them for not paying their hookers and crashing cars into the White House gate while driving drunk.

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The TSA – Keeping You Safe Five Percent of the Time

TSA Failed to Find Fake Weapons 95 Percent

Three out of seventy ain’t bad…

Although they tend to be pretty good at finding oversized contact solution containers and mothers with unauthorized breast milk, the Transportation Security Administration has once again shown that they pretty much can’t find any actual weapons. In the latest series of tests where undercover Homeland Security Agents took realistic looking weapons through airport checkpoints to test the TSA screeners, they failed to find those “weapons” 67 times out of 70 attempts. That boils down to 95% of the time that had someone actually been walking through with a hand grenade and shiny pistol like the one to the left, they would have made their flight with time to spare.

Via the Huffington Post:

As thorough as the Transportation Security Administration screeners may be as they rifle through your belongings, the agency isn’t performing where it counts.

In a series of trials, the Department of Homeland Security was able to smuggle fake explosives, weapons and other contraband past airport screeners in major cities across the country, according to ABC News. Officials briefed on the Homeland Security Inspector General’s investigation told the station that the TSA failed 67 out of 70 tests conducted by the department’s Red Teams — undercover passengers tasked with identifying weaknesses in the screening process, NJ.com reports.

During the tests, DHS agents each tried to bring a banned item past TSA screeners. They succeeded 95 percent of the time…

In one test an undercover agent was stopped after setting off an alarm at a magnetometer, but TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow-on pat down.

TSA Fail

A TSA screener displays stuff they didn’t actually find in people’s luggage

This isn’t actually something that should be particularly shocking since the TSA has a long history of failing these types of tests. This dates all the way back to 2006, when screeners in Newark (where one of the planes hijacked on September 11th departed from) missed 20 out of 22 guns and bombs that were sent through security, but also include incidents in 2007 in Albany, NY, and 2010 in Houston, TX. So while the TSA employees tend to be really good at finding stuff to steal, using the screenings as a pretense to grope people they are attracted to or expose the breasts of underage girls publicly, and humiliating innocent cancer survivors; they have a pretty solidly bad track record of not finding stuff they should actually be looking for. In fact, in spite of claims of enhanced techniques and the acquisition of even more evasive equipment since the last time they failed miserably at these type of tests, they’ve only gotten worse and have still yet to capture a single terrorist attempting to board a plane.

In the wake of the most recent massive failure, the head of the TSA has been re-assigned (but not fired obviously, because he works in a government job and that just doesn’t happen, even if the agency you run has a .050 batting average on the one thing they are actually supposed to do.) Also, they’re going to enhance those techniques again and look for some more expensive and faulty equipment to buy.

Once again, via the Huffington Post:

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Monday reassigned the leader of the Transportation Security Administration and directed the agency to revise airport security procedures, retrain officers and retest screening equipment in airports across the country.

TSA Trading Liberty for SecurityThe TSA’s acting administrator, Melvin Carraway, is being reassigned to a different job in the Department of Homeland Security. Acting Deputy Director Mark Hatfield will lead the agency until a new administrator is appointed.

The directives come after the agency’s inspector general briefed Johnson on a report analyzing vulnerabilities in airport security — specifically, the ability to bring prohibited items through TSA checkpoints.

 Johnson would not describe the results of the classified report, but said he takes the findings “very seriously.”

So there you have it, some incompetent people have been moved around and things are being taken very seriously. Since the truth behind the TSA is that they are designed more to control people (they officially refer to those lines you wait in as “corrals“) and to give the appearance of safety by making it look like they are doing something, that’s gotta be pretty reassuring (said nobody ever).

Five Percent is (Slightly) Better Than Nothing

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