Acting TSA Chief Reassigned After IG Demonstrates Ease of Getting Weapons Past Screeners
Mock bombs and weapons made it past security checkpoints more than 95 percent of the time, according to leaked IG report.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Monday reassigned the acting head of the Transportation Security Administration following a disturbing critique showing vulnerabilities in airport passenger screening.
“Effective immediately, Melvin Carraway, the acting administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, will be reassigned to serve in the Office of State and Local Law Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security headquarters,” Johnson said in a terse statement. “Acting Deputy Director Mark Hatfield will lead TSA until a new acting administrator is appointed.”
Johnson also urged the Senate to act quickly to confirm President Obama’s nominee for the permanent job, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Pete Neffenger.
Simultaneously, the secretary instructed TSA to rethink airport security procedures, revise training of officers and test airport screening equipment nationwide, according to the Associated Press.
The moves came after Johnson was briefed last week by Homeland Security Department Inspector General John Roth about a classified report said to show the disturbing ease with which passengers can bring prohibited items through airport security. He also reacted on Monday after ABC News broadcast an expose based on leaks from the IG report showing that in a test, mock explosives or weapons were successfully smuggled through TSA checkpoints in 67 out of 70 tries.
“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,” ABC reporters said.
Johnson’s statement in response said, "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." He noted that in the last year, "TSA screened a record number of passengers at airports in the United States, and ... seized a record number of prohibited items."
TSA will continue to perform random testing of its checkpoints but in the long run will consider new technologies, Johnson added.
Carraway became acting TSA administrator in January, following the retirement of John Pistole. Carraway had been deputy administrator for six months, having spent 10 years at TSA previously. He was a security specialist with a background in state police work.