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Federal Agent with Fake Bomb Passes through TSA Screening
An undercover TSA agent successfully bypassed security with a mock “bomb” during a recent drill at Newark Liberty International Airport, claims the New York Post.
The daily newspaper reports this week that a team of agents with the US Transportation Security Administration’s special operations group entered Newark Airport on February 25 and attempted to board a plane with fake bombs. One of the secret agents, claims the Post, successfully passed two separate security screenings while containing an improvised explosive device-like contraption in his pants.
“He did have a simulated IED in his pants,” the source tells the paper. “They did not find it.”
According to the person familiar with the incident, the “bomber” made it to his gate in Newark’s Terminal B, where aircraft belonging to American Airlines, JetBlue and Delta all regularly dock.
With 33,869,307 passengers going in and out of Newark in 2011, it is one of the busiest transportation hubs in the world. But is it the safest?
The latest report mishap is only the most recent in a laundry list of incidents in recent months that have raised serious concerns about security breaches at Newark. Eleven years ago, agents of al-Qaeda boarded a United Airlines flight departing Newark and hijacked it in the air, reportedly hoping to crash the aircraft in the US Capitol Building. The attempt was foiled and the plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all onboard. A decade after that tragedy, though, incidents continue to occur at Newark.
Last year, 52 screeners at Newark were fired for major security lapses. In 2010, one passenger was caught walking into a secure area within the airport without presenting a ticket, a requirement.
Speaking of the latest incident, the Post’s source says, “This episode once again demonstrates how Newark Airport is the Ground Zero of TSA failures.”
In October, New Jersey’s Star-Ledger newspaper reported that a leaked copy of an official TSA evaluation of Newark Airport documented a history of dastardly behavior. According to that report, TSA agents at Newark perform their job duties correctly just a fraction of the time, executing standard pat-downs properly only in 16.7 percent of cases and taking appropriate action with prohibited items passing through check-points in around one-quarter of the instances that they were evaluated on.
“There’s that often-repeated phrase, ‘We’ve got to get it right all the time,’” law professor Thomas McDonnell told the paper for their report. “When it’s under 50 percent, under 20 percent, that to me is very shocking.”
The Post adds in this week’s report that of the four agents on TSA’s “Red Team,” one member was stopped at a security checkpoint. According to the source, the officer was a female agent “carrying a simulated IED inside her carry-on that was inside a child’s doll.”
It had “wires sticking out,” the source said, and was obviously suspicious.
The TSA has responded to the report by declining to disclose any official details.
“Due to the security-sensitive nature of the tests, TSA does not publicly share details about how they are conducted, what specifically is tested or the outcomes,” the agency tells The Post.
AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser