2006_10_screening.jpgFor anyone who flies out of Newark, this is some distressing news: The Transportation Security Administration conducted 22 security tests at Newark Liberty International Airport, only for the Newark screeners to fail 20 of them. The Star-Ledger noted some of the problems:

One of the security officials familiar with last week's tests said screeners at Newark missed fake explosive devices that were hidden under bottles of water in carry-on luggage, taped beneath an agent's clothing and concealed under a leg bandage another tester wore.

Additionally, the official said screeners failed to use hand-held metal detector wands when required, missed an explosive device during a pat-down and failed to properly hand-check suspicious carry-on bags. Supervisors also were cited for failing to properly monitor checkpoint screeners, the official said.

"We just totally missed everything," the official said.

Various critics of the TSA say that the failings are "at the basic level" or that "TSA is always going to be one step behind the bad guy" and suggst that the agency look at screening procedures at Israeli airports or use human profiling.

The TSA's response to the tests? "Covert tests are conducted by security experts who expect significant fault rates commensurate with the tests' high level of difficulty." But do you really want your screeners to fail 20 of 22 tests? At any rate, security screening can be slipshod at any airport - goodness knows what would be found at JFK or LaGuardia.

Image from Concurring Opinions, which had a hilarious post about the Playmobil airport screening kit a year ago