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Airport screeners no better than before 9/11, reports say
 
Associated Press | April 17, 2005
By Leslie Miller  

WASHINGTON -- Security at U.S. airports is no better under federal control than it was before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a key House member says two government reports will conclude.

The Government Accountability Office -- the investigative arm of Congress -- and the Homeland Security Department's inspector general are expected to soon release their findings on the performance of Transportation Security Administration screeners.

"A lot of people will be shocked at the billions of dollars we've spent and the results they're going to see, which confirm previous examinations of the Soviet-style screening system we've put in place," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., told The Associated Press on Friday.

Mica chairs the House aviation subcommittee.

The TSA won't comment on the specifics of the reports until they are released, spokesman Mark Hatfield Jr. said.

But, he said: "When the political posturing is over, rational people will see that American screeners today are the best we have ever had and that they are limited only by current technology and security procedures that are significantly influenced by privacy demands."

Improving the ability of screeners to find dangerous items has been the goal since the government took over the task at about 450 airports in early 2002.

On Jan. 26, Homeland Security's acting inspector general, Richard Skinner, testified that "the ability of TSA screeners to stop prohibited items from being carried through the sterile areas of the airports fared no better than the performance of screeners prior to Sept. 11, 2001."

Skinner told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the reasons the screeners failed undercover audits had to do with training, equipment, management and policy.

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