A report published by a government accountability group states that the TSA is jeopardizing the safety of travelers and aircraft because it is not adequately maintaining security equipment.
The report, by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, states that the TSA does not know which screening equipment is working correctly or in need of repair because maintenance procedures have not even been implemented.
“Because TSA does not adequately oversee equipment maintenance, it cannot be assured that routine preventative maintenance is performed or that equipment is repaired and ready for operational use,” the report said. “Without diligent oversight … TSA risks shortening equipment life and incurring costs to replace equipment.”
In addition to warning of unnecessary delays and queues at airports, the report suggests that “Consequently the safety of airline passengers and aircraft could be jeopardized.”
The Office of Inspector General wants to see policies put into place for contractors to maintain screening equipment, and punishments to be dished out for those who fail to do so.
The TSA claims it will comply with the report’s findings and will implement corrective measures.
“As the agency charged with protecting nearly 1.8 million passengers who travel through U.S. airports every day, we take seriously the responsibility to ensure the operational use of screening equipment,” said agency spokesman Bruce Anderson.
“TSA concurs with the Office of Inspector General recommendations and has already begun work on the necessary enhancements in September 2014. We anticipate completion of that work by the end of 2015.” Anderson added.
There have long persisted questions over the TSA’s screening procedures and equipment.
In 2013, the agency came under strict scrutiny from Congress over the mothballing of $14 million worth of body scanners. All in all, the 250 backscatter scanners the agency now has are worth a combined total of $40 million.
The real reason some of the machines were removed from airports is because of allegations that the manufacturer Rapiscan manipulated operational tests on the machines, and the company was never able to develop the “stick man” software that masks naked images produced by the scanners.
In addition, further documents obtained by EPIC show how the TSA “publicly mischaracterized” findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in stating that the agency had positively confirmed the safety of full body scanners in tests.
It has also been proven that the scanner can be fooled by sewing a metallic object into the side of one’s clothing, rendering the entire fleet of machines virtually useless.
A recently discovered Homeland Security report also noted that federal investigators have “identified vulnerabilities in the screening process” involving the scanners.
Multiple other security experts have gone on record saying that the scanners are ineffective, yet the TSA has set about acquiring a whole new generation of more powerful, and many would argue more intrusive, scanners seemingly based on the same technology.
Another security experts, Bruce Schneier, CTO of Co3 Systems had this to say of revelations of TSA equipment security flaws:
“This reminded me a lot of voting machines. When you design these government systems under procurement rules, you end up using old stuff. No one is paying attention to updating it, so security is crap because no one is analyzing it.”
“Stuff done in secret gets really shoddy security … We know what gives us security is the constant interplay between the research community and vendors.” Schneier added.
Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.