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Most Fake Bombs Missed by Screeners

Susan Ohanian

USA Today had the news on October 18, 2007 as an exclusive: Airport security screeners missed 75% of the fake bombs hidden by undercover agents. The story made the front page, at the bottom of the page.

The Los Angeles Times picked up the story the next day, probably because Los Angeles International was one of the test sites for the fake bombs. Screeners at Chicago's O'Hare, the other test site, missed about 60% of the bombs.

According to the LA Times, "Airport officials said privately that they were not alarmed by the newspaper report."

Writing in the Chicago Sun Times, Neil Steinberg gave the story 1/4 of his column, saying the screeners missed the bombs because they're busy arguing with you over your 4 ounces of contact lens fluid.

The Chicago Tribune featured an article by their transportation reporter and offered a video with it.

And a local politico expressed concern:

The poor performance prompted a Chicago-area congressman, Mark Kirk, to seek a high-level meeting with U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials to see what can be done immediately to shore up checkpoint security at the airport.

Transportation Security Administration officials said that the high failure rate among screeners is a misleading indicator and that airport security is better than ever.

"Our testing of screeners has become increasingly sophisticated to represent the threat posed by terrorists," Davis said. "The tests are designed to detect vulnerabilities, not to achieve a 100 percent pass rate among our security officers."

Got it? Only schools are supposed to reach 100%

At least these papers covered the story. Others across the nation didn't bother. Papers that scream about schools that don't produce ever-increasing pass rates on standardized tests don't show any interest in how many bombs airport screeners miss.

Notice how protective of their employees the Transportation Security Administration officials are? Quite a contrast with officials at the U. S. Department of Education.

— Susan Ohanian



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