NEW TEST: TSA Still Failing to Detect 95% of Threats

The TSA has failed to meaningfully detect dangerous items going through the checkpoint for years. Two years ago their disclosed 95% failure rate seemed shocking and surprising to many but is hardly new, ten years ago they had a 91% failure rate.

Much hand wringing ensued. There’s no meaningful deterrence at that level of failure. Yet the TSA has never caught a terrorist because there aren’t that many people in the U.S. trying to take down aircraft.


TSA Agents in Charlotte Watch News of the TSA’s Failure to Detect Weapons and Bombs, Instead of Searching for Weapons and Bombs (HT: Tocqueville)

TSA is actually harmful, not merely ineffective. TSA wait times create easy terrorist targets. They also push people to driving over flying which is more dangerous (a phenomenon known as ‘statistical murder’). And despite a workforce run amok they were given a union making it even harder to hold “the few bad apples” accountable, thus encouraging even more bad apples. Indeed over 20,000 TSA employees have been accused of misconduct, over half multiple times.

In another test last week TSA had a 94% failure rate.

Last Thursday, what’s referred to as the “Red Team” in town from Washington D.C., posed as passengers and attempted to sneak items through security that should easily be caught.

In most cases, they succeeded in getting the banned items though. 17 out of 18 tries by the undercover federal agents saw explosive materials, fake weapons, or drugs pass through TSA screening undetected.

Two sources told Fox 9 that the tests carried out Thursday were eventually stopped after the failure rate reached 95 percent.

In response the TSA “condemns the release of any information that could compromise our nation’s security.” Because it’s people knowing that the TSA continues to fail spectacularly that creates the risk. It’s the journalists who are the real threat!

The only way to fix this mess and get better security is to separate regulation of airport security from performing checkpoint screening duties. You get zero accountability when the TSA regulates itself.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I was going through the TSA Pre-Check line at PHL before boarding a Southwest flight a month ago. They put my suitcase through the screener but there was no one monitoring the video screen!

  2. They stop at 95% because they are afraid that 100% would served as an evidence that taxpayer’s money actually used to pay for criminals.

    Why not demolished all the TSA services alltogether and when something bad happens, just blame ME3. Like Delta did.

    It doesn’t have to make sense for common people to believe, as long as you are running a good campaign.

  3. They reportedly stopped the test when they saw results that showed failure 17 out of 18 times. It would be interesting to know if the first 17 tries were all failure and it was the 18th that worked.

  4. I have said it before and will say it again. We put too much emphasis on saving lives. Just assume every year a couple of planes will be lost to terrorism. That just the cost of flying. A few hundred lives lost. Nothing worse than fatalities in traffic accidents.

    What we should have though is a policy that we will kill all relatives of confirmed terrorists or maybe nuke their entire village.

    This will save us a lot of money and kill all potential terrorists as well, all at a cost of few hundred lives that would have been lost to cancers, road fatalities, heart attacks, suicides anyway. So no big loss.

  5. @Credit- why stop there? Why not kill the relatives of crazy gunmen, like that white guy who killed 5 people in an office park in Orlando? I bet if you shot his parents and blew up the neighborhood he was from in North Orlando, it would deter future mass murderers.

    Ohh- even better- kill gun shop owners who sell a gun to someone that’s used to kill other people! That’ll make sure they are careful on the background checks, no? Certainly many, many more people get killed by handguns in the States than go down in terrorist attacks…

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