Bombs Sneak Past Airport Security? Shocking!

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


bag-xray.jpgA GAO report released today shows that current TSA restrictions on liquids and gels are just shy of completely ineffective in preventing a terrorist attack.

Really? You don’t say.

Earlier this year undercover GAO agents (as opposed to those who run around wearing uniforms and nametags) tested 21 airports nationwide, and managed to get liquids and detonators that can be combined to create IEDs and (another acronym we don’t all want to come to know), Improvised Incendiary Devices (IIDs), past airport screeners.

They were universally successful (and this frightening finding comes just before the busiest travel week of the year). In one case, a TSA agent didn’t allow the GAO a “small, unlabeled bottle of medicated shampoo” because he said the bottle “could contain acid.” The same TSAer permitted a prohibited, liquid IID component to sail through untouched.

The screeners are hardly the ones to blame, though. The GAO found that “in most cases transportation security officers appeared to follow TSA procedures and used technology appropriately.” The fault lay in nationwide TSA policies and standard-operating procedures that “increases the risk of a terrorist successfully bringing an IED, an IID, or both onto an aircraft undetected.”

Reform maven Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) found the GAO’s report “mind-boggling,” but I’m not so surprised. The TSA failed to find similar components during a test run on Thanksgiving weekend in 2004 and it failed again in 2006.

For more tidbits, like how the GAO got IED parts (which run about $150), the full report can be read here. The TSA’s totally unconvincing response to the report, in which they say you shouldn’t worry because the failed security checkpoint is really just part of a larger tapestry of inspections, is here. Happy trails.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate