GOP senator: Declassify failed TSA bomb tests

GOP senator: Declassify failed TSA bomb tests

A Republican senator is calling for a report that found Transportation Security Administration workers failed to find fake explosives and weapons in internal tests at almost all of America's busiest airports to be declassified. 

The report, released last week by the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general, documented a series of undercover stings in which agents tried to pass through security with prohibited items, although much of its findings still remain classified. 

The undercover agents made it through security in nearly all the tests — 67 of 70 — including one instance where a TSA screener failed to find a fake bomb, even after the undercover agent set off a magnetometer. The screener reportedly let the agent through with the fake bomb taped to his back, having missed it during a pat-down.

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Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseFCC votes to bar use of its funds to purchase Huawei, ZTE equipment Senate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition MORE (R-Neb.) said Monday in an op-ed in USA Today that the rest of the TSA’s security test findings should be made public because airline travel is not as safe as passengers have been led to believe. 

“The publicly available facts are disturbing, but the classified details are even worse,” he wrote. “Millions of families will soon fly to summer vacations, but if moms knew what members of Congress have learned behind closed doors, they would march on Washington demanding an urgent, top-to-bottom reevaluation of airport security.” 

TSA officials have noted that the bomb tests were conducted by a group of employees who are known as “Red Teams” that are trained specifically in security evasion. 

Sasse said the findings were nonetheless troubling for airline passengers who are counting on the TSA to prevent terrorist attacks. 

“Until last week, Americans were led to believe that jihadi terrorists could never again weaponize commercial airliners,” he wrote. “After last week, it is time to rethink that. We are not safe. It is time to start effectively protecting U.S. flights from those hell-bent on killing us. The administration needs to responsibly declassify what its members know.” 

Sasse said the TSA needs to rethink its entire approach to airport security after the failed bomb tests. 

“Right now we do not have a strategy, and security theater accomplishes little,” he wrote. “To be clear: I have tremendous respect and gratitude for many front-line TSA employees who work a difficult job. This is a failure of the agency's vision, structure and leadership. I have spent much of my career executing strategy projects for businesses and, frankly, I have never seen anything so inept.”