Congress slams TSA over security breaches

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

It seems like us civilians aren't the only people who have a problem with the TSA and airport security as of late.

Yesterday, Congress held a hearing to discuss the controversial agency after disturbing reports cited over 25,000 security breaches since November 2001.

Navy violated own policy over WikiLeaks suspectThe House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) called the hearing after deeming the breaches "unacceptable." 

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 14,000 breaches were attributed to people entering "limited access" areas, while 6,000 other infractions were cited for inadequate search before letting travelers pass through security checkpoints.
 
In regards to the 25,000 documented breaches, Chairman Chaffetz said, "We appreciate TSA in tracking and providing that data, but obviously, those are the ones we know about. The deep concern is, what about the ones we don't know about and the creativity and things that can happen in the future?"

One of Chaffetz's primary concerns is that the TSA seems to have (comprehensively) tested vulnerabilities in only 20 out of 400 U.S. airports.

John Sammon, TSA's assistant administrator, responded to criticism by claiming joint vulnerability tests aren't the easiest to coordinate since they must be executed in conjunction with the FBI.

"Unlike checkpoint security, which is carried out exclusively by [transportation security officers], perimeter security for airports’ secured areas is a mutual responsibility shared among federal, state and local government personnel," he said.

"I absolutely don’t understand that," Chaffetz shot back. "I don’t understand it, and it’s unacceptable."

"We have to be right all the time; terrorists only have to get lucky once," Sammon added.

Democrat John Tierney (Mass.) agreed that it was time to reevaluate TSA's effort and their particular function.

"We’ve spent $750 million on it already; they’re asking for another $250 million. I think it’s pretty critical with that significant [amount of money] that we take a look and see if this program is actually [effective enough] in identifying potential threats to security," he said.

Tierney also emphasized the absolute the importance of clearly defining TSA's role in keeping airports safe.

"The agency has a difficult and unenviable task, but it’s our responsibility … to provide constructive criticism with which the TSA can strike the balance between security, convenience and cost, hopefully weighing heavily on the security," he said.

(Via The Hill)