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Fake bomb eludes airport test




Fake bomb eludes airport test
Fake bomb eludes airport test



http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=603177 

By BRENDAN J. LYONS
Senior writer
July 4, 2007

COLONIE -- Federal inspectors were able to slip a fake bomb through a 
checkpoint at Albany International Airport during a test of the 
facility's Transportation Security Administration screeners, according 
to individuals familiar with the incident.

The unannounced inspection by TSA officials took place early last week. 
The airport's security measures failed in five of seven tests, most of 
the problems occurring at the passenger checkpoint, the sources said.

In one test, TSA inspectors hid the components of a fake bomb in 
carry-on luggage that also contained a bottle of water. Passengers are 
prohibited from carrying containers holding more than three ounces of 
liquids, gels or aerosols through airport checkpoints.

The screeners at Albany International confiscated the water bottle but 
missed the bomb. In all, the inspectors slipped four banned items 
through the main checkpoint during the test, sources said.

The TSA, which took over security at the nation's commercial airports 
after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, conducts random tests of its 
workforce on a regular basis and failures are common, officials said.

Paul Varville, the TSA's security director at Albany International, 
could not be reached for comment.

Ann Davis, a TSA spokeswoman, declined to discuss the circumstances of 
the covert test at Albany International.

"We don't discuss the results because they tend to paint an inaccurate 
picture of the competency of our work force," she said. "The tests are 
designed to be incredibly difficult and TSA does anticipate a fair level 
of failure."

Screeners who flunk the test routinely receive immediate training on the 
mistakes to improve their detection skills, according to officials 
familiar with the spot checks.

Last October, the Star-Ledger newspaper of Newark, citing unnamed 
federal security officials, reported screeners at Newark Liberty 
International Airport flunked 20 of 22 tests, including failing to 
detect bombs and guns in luggage at checkpoints.

The TSA responded to the report by launching an internal investigation 
in which federal employees were interrogated about whether they had 
leaked the results, the newspaper said.

Not all of the TSA's checks are done at passenger checkpoints. In some 
instances, TSA inspectors try to gain access to restricted airport areas 
and see how many employees they can get by before someone asks to see or 
verify their credentials.

At two airports in Houston last month, TSA officials swarmed the 
facilities as security and "behavior detection" officers conducted 
random screening of approximately 5,200 employees and passengers at 
boarding gates, according to the TSA.

Five employees with expired airport security badges were found as were 
two who did not have credentials. The expired badges were confiscated 
and the employees in violation were escorted off airport property, 
according to a TSA news release.

Davis said security screeners who fail tests must undergo extra training 
in addition to annual recertification exams.

"These covert tests conducted by security personnel simply augment their 
training regimen," Davis said.


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