Fake bomb gets past airport screeners at Newark, report says

March 8, 2013 2:50:14 PM PST
New York Congressman Peter King is calling for an extensive security review at Newark Liberty Airport after a report that a fake bomb got past screeners.

Rep. King's letter to Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole followed a report in the New York Post. The newspaper said an undercover TSA inspector brought a mock improvised explosive device stashed in his pants through two layers of security last month. One of the security checks that failed to catch the mock device was a pat-down.

King, a Republican who is a former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called for a "top-to-bottom" review of TSA operations at Newark.

"If you're surprised, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I'm not surprised at all," security expert Isaac Yeffet said.

The former head of security for Israeli airlines says the security failure exposes pre-9/11 vulnerabilities despite billions spent.

"Fake explosive in pants go through walk thru, searched by security people and they allow him to go - save the money of taxpayers with this kind of security," he said.

Just last year, the Inspector General for Homeland Security found huge security lapses at Newark. Their investigation found that when security breaches occurred at the airport, TSA took action to correct them only 42-percent of the time which might explain why a fake bomb recently got through undetected.

"It's surprising, it's disappointing and you'd think with all the money put into it we'd get better results," passenger Arlene Buchanan said.

"They seem to be checking everyone coming thru the security point, I'm surprised someone was able to get through absolutely," passenger David Holland said.

Last year alone, TSA fired 35 screeners for everything from sleeping on duty, to improper screening, to theft. That there never seems to be an end to the unfolding failures at Newark has one security expert calling for drastic measurers.

"The first thing TSA should do if we cannot correct it is close the airport. Tell the American people you cannot fly from here because you risk your life," Yeffet said.

During the undercover test, a screener did detect a fake bomb hidden inside a doll.

The TSA said it regularly puts screeners through "the most difficult and isolated training scenarios to ensure officers are able to detect even the most difficult to find devices."

Since December 2011, more than 50 airport workers have faced TSA disciplinary action at Newark for various violations; a TSA agent was charged with stealing $5,000 from a traveler's jacket; a security breach at an exit area caused the evacuation of a terminal, and a non-TSA security employee pleaded guilty to using a fake identity for 20 years.

Some information from The Associated Press.