Lawmakers this week criticized the Transportation Security Administration for its failure to perform in undercover tests of its airport security measures. Legislators on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee pressed officials from TSA on its miserable record in those tests, as well as a Government Accountability Office report’s finding that “TSA has not consistently evaluated the overall effectiveness of new technologies before adopting them.”

A report leaked this past summer says that TSA agents failed to identify bombs and weapons 95 percent of the time, including once when a scanner missed a bomb taped to the middle of an undercover tester’s back. These recent numbers are worse than they were in 2007, when TSA agents failed to find bombs 75 percent of the time, according to congressional overseers.

“Consistently evaluat[ing] the overall effectiveness of new technologies” sounds nice and all, but there’s a lot of money to be made in the security theater business.

Michael Chertoff was the head of DHS between the years 2005 and 2009. When he left public “service” in 2009, he founded an organization called the Chertoff Group, which counted among its clients manufacturers of full-body scanners. After the undie-bomb scare, Chertoff took to the press to advise that TSA adopt full-body scanners. Imagine that!

The government subsequently spent $160 million on the scanners, which basically everyone hates and which don’t work. Aren’t you glad you have to take your shoes off?


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