The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has admitted that a passenger carried a firearm past a TSA checkpoint and onto a Delta flight traveling from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to Tokyo Narita International Airport on January 3.
TSA’s statement read, “TSA has determined standard procedures were not followed and a passenger did in fact pass through a standard screening TSA checkpoint with a firearm at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on the morning of January 3.” Delta gave a statement to CNN attesting that “upon the customer’s disclosure, the airline reported the incident to the TSA.”
During the federal government’s partial shutdown, TSA agents have not received paychecks, according to CNN. TSA stated, “The perception that this might have occurred as a result of the partial government shutdown would be false. The national unscheduled absence rate of TSA staff on Thursday, January 3, 2019, was 4.8% compared to 6.3% last year, Thursday, January 4, 2018. So in fact, the national call out rate was higher a year ago than this year on that date.”
In June 2015, the acting administrator for the TSA, Melvin Carraway, was reassigned after the Department of Homeland Security filed a report delineating how “red teams” working for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General managed to secret banned items past screeners a whopping 67 times out of the 70 attempts that were made.
At the time, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, stated, “Over the past six years, we have seen TSA consume an enormous amount of government resources, but I’m not convinced we have much to show for it. After spending over $540 million on baggage screening equipment and millions more on training, the failure rate today is higher than it was in 2007. Something is not working. I have long been a proponent of using low-tech bomb-sniffing dogs to detect weapons and explosives. Government needs to recognize that the most effective solution is not always the most expensive one.”
In November 2017, ABC News reported, “In recent undercover tests of multiple airport security checkpoints by the Department of Homeland Security, inspectors said screeners, their equipment or their procedures failed more than half the time, according to a source familiar with the classified report. When ABC News asked the source if the failure rate was 80 percent, the response was, ‘You are in the ballpark.'”
USA Today reported in September 2017 that using canine teams could vastly expedite the screening process in airports:
TSA maintains 1,047 teams of bomb-sniffing dogs and their handlers for about $152 million per year, which includes buying dogs and training them and their handlers. The teams patrol 82 airports, along with 33 bus, rail and transit systems. TSA itself staffs 372 dog teams, mostly for airports … A lane at a security checkpoint that typically handles 150 passengers per hour can process up to 250 per hour with canine teams … On any given day, the canine teams screen 120,000 to 130,000 passengers at airport checkpoints and respond to 109 calls for unattended items or vehicles, according to Melanie Harvey, TSA’s director of threat assessment.