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TSA chief reassigned after airport screeners fail 95 percent of security tests

An internal investigation found undercover agents were able to get fake weapons through airport security 95 percent of the time.

By Kate Stanton
An internal investigation found that airport security failed to detect fake weapons 95 percent of the time. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/a8d9a2bd6fde3913d0fa0a3413cd0543/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
An internal investigation found that airport security failed to detect fake weapons 95 percent of the time. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 2 (UPI) -- An internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security revealed Monday that undercover agents managed to get weapons through airport security in 67 out of 70 tests.

"The numbers in these reports never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson said in a statement. "We take these findings very seriously in our continued effort to test, measure and enhance our capabilities and techniques as threats evolve."

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The findings prompted Johnson to reassign Melvin Carraway, the acting head of the Transportation Security Agency, to another post within DHS.

The Homeland Security tests were conducted by so-called Red Teams, agents who pose as passengers and try to get fake explosives and other weapons through TSA screening.

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The report described one incident in which a Red Team agent set off an alarm, though the TSA employee conducting the subsequent pat-down missed the fake bomb taped to the agent's back.

Johnson said airport screening is just one layer of security. But he called for TSA to re-evaluate its screening equipment, revise its standard operating procedures, brief security directors at all U.S. airports and train TSA screeners based on information in the report.

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"It is important to remember that all air travelers are subject to a robust security system that employs multiple layers of detection and protection, many of which are not visible to the traveling public," he said.

Johnson said that President Barack Obama had nominated U.S. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Pete Neffenger to replace Carraway.

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