WASHINGTON — Airport screeners failed to detect explosives and weapons in nearly every test that an undercover Homeland Security team conducted at dozens of airports, according to an internal investigation.
The Transportation Security Administration found that “red teams” with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General were able to get banned items through the screening process in 67 out of 70 tests — 95% — it conducted across the nation.
The test results were first reported by ABC News, and government officials confirmed them to CNN.
Homeland Security’s report on the tests is set to be issued later this summer and is still being written.
A Homeland Security spokesperson said that “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.”
The spokesperson said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson directed TSA to take “a series of actions, several of which are now in place,” to address the issues the red team tests identified.
Johnson said he has directed the Transportation Security Administration to revise airport security procedures, retrain officers and retest screening equipment in airports across the country.
Johnson would not describe the results of the classified report, but said he takes the findings “very seriously.”
Late Monday, Johnson issued a statement saying that Melvin Carraway, the acting administrator for the TSA, would be reassigned. Mark Hatfield, acting deputy director, will take over until a new acting administrator is appointed.
ABC News first reported Monday that undercover agents were able to smuggle prohibited items, such as mock explosives or weapons, through TSA checkpoints in 67 out of 70 attempts. ABC cited anonymous officials who had been briefed on the inspector general’s report.
“Today, all air travelers are subject to a robust security system that employs multiple layers of protection, both seen and unseen, including: intelligence gathering and analysis, cross-checking passenger manifests against watchlists, screening at checkpoints, random canine team screening at airports, reinforced cockpit doors, Federal Air Marshals, armed pilots and a vigilant public,” the spokesperson said.
“In combination, these layers provide enhanced security creating a much stronger and protected transportation system for the traveling public.”