Entries in Screening (4)


Report: Unsupervised TSA Agents Fail to Screen Bags for Bombs

Scott Olson/Getty Images(HONOLULU) -- Unsupervised TSA agents at an international airport repeatedly failed to screen bags for explosives before putting them on flights with hundreds of passengers, according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General.

"Without ensuring that baggage is screened as appropriate, TSA risks the safety of the traveling public by allowing unscreened baggage on passenger aircraft," the report says.

The Inspector General's report, which focused on Hawaii's Honolulu International Airport, in part blamed the security failures on lack of supervision from TSA managers at security screening locations, something that DHS Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards said also could have contributed to hundreds of luggage thefts blamed on TSA screeners across the country, as detailed in a recent ABC News investigation.

"Theft and other misconduct by TSA employees has long been a key concern for the Office of Inspector General and our investigators have worked hard to bring individual wrongdoers to justice," Edwards said in a statement to ABC News. "Our audit revealed a lack of effective and consistent supervision of TSA screeners by their managers, as well as inconsistent adherence to operating procedures. These are conditions that can contribute to criminal activity, including the theft of airline passengers' valuables."

The IG's report, released Tuesday, says that for some months in late 2010, some TSA workers at Honolulu International Airport cleared luggage for transport without first properly screening it for dangerous materials in the airport's well-traveled overseas terminal.

"Among other things," the report says, "evidence shows [TSA screeners] opening bags, placing notices of inspection inside, and transporting them back to the airline without screening them."

The report comes two weeks after an ABC News investigation revealed that 381 TSA agents have been fired since the agency's founding a decade ago for allegedly stealing from passengers. As part of the investigation, ABC News tracked an iPad that was purposefully left behind at an airport security checkpoint to the home of a TSA agent, who was later fired for the alleged theft.

Another former TSA employee, Pythias Brown, served three years in prison for theft and said he stole approximately $800,000 worth of cash and merchandise from travelers before he was caught.

"It was very commonplace, very," Brown told ABC News. "It was very convenient to steal… [TSA agents] didn't think it was okay, but they did it and said, 'I don't care. They ain't paying me. They're treating me wrong.' But when people started seeing they could profit off of it, then it became massive."

The agency disputes that theft is a widespread problem, however, saying the number of officers fired "represents less than one-half of one percent of officers that have been employed" by TSA.

The IG's report said its review was done after the TSA was tipped off to the failed security procedures by a "confidential source." The TSA launched their own investigation into the incident and "took personnel actions" against employees who allegedly acted improperly.

After its review, the IG gave the TSA four recommendations, all of which the Inspector General said the TSA agreed to implement to enhance security checks and screener supervision. But the TSA took issue with the IG's conclusion that the failures would not have occurred if some of the recommendations had already been in place, saying that it wasn't any procedures that made the screeners decide to circumvent protocols.

The report also said the TSA claimed Honolulu was the only travel hub where procedures were not followed, but the IG said the agency "did not provide evidence to support this assertion, nor did it demonstrate it reviewed all airports."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida TSA Workers Fired, Suspended for Not Doing Random Screenings

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(FORT MYERS, Fla.) -- Five Transportation Security Administration workers at a Florida airport have been fired and another 38 have been suspended for failing to perform random screenings last year.

The incident occurred during the late shift and affected up to 400 passengers over two months at Southwest Florida International Airport, according to the TSA.  At the time, all passengers and bags were screened, but random screenings were not conducted.

The security issue was brought to the attention of officials by a TSA employee who was hired last year and noticed procedures were not being followed properly.

The 43 employees were disciplined last Friday and can appeal their terminations and suspensions.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


TSA Modifies Screening Procedures for Elderly

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Transportation Security Administration is hoping to give travelers over the age of 75 a more hands-off experience as they pass through airport security.

As part of a pilot program, passengers over age 75 will be allowed to go through what the TSA describes as a modified screening procedure. It means that in many cases they will be allowed to leave their shoes on and take multiple passes through screening machines to reduce the need for pat-downs. For now there will only be one checkpoint at each of the four test airports as the agency vets the program.

The pilot program will begin next week at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Denver International, Orlando International and Portland International.

The TSA has come under criticism in the past for its treatment of elderly passengers. The pilot program is similar to the change the TSA made for those 12 and under and is part of the broader change at the agency towards a more risk-based approach.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hillary Clinton: Understand Fury over Enhanced Pat-Downs

File photo. Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton is the latest of Obama administration officials to weigh in on the enhanced security pat-downs and screenings taking place at airports across the country.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation, the secretary of state was asked whether she would submit to an enhanced pat down.

"Not if I could avoid it, no," Clinton said. "I mean, who would?"

"I understand how difficult it is, and how offensive it must be for the people who are going through it," she said.

Clinton suggested that the administration and its experts were open to changes in the controversial procedure, echoing a message sent by President Obama on Saturday.

"I understand people's frustrations," the president said, "And what I've said to the TSA is that you have to constantly refine and measure whether what we are doing is the only way to assure the American people's safety. And you also have to think through are there ways to do it that are less intrusive."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio