Last updated: 10:40 AM ET, Tue June 02 2015

TSA Chief Out After Stunning Security Lapse

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | June 02, 2015

TSA Chief Out After Stunning Security Lapse

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In a stunning move following an equally stunning — and frightening — revelation, the head of the Transportation Security Administration was replaced late Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced.

Johnson made the move to reassign acting TSA administrator Melvin Carraway after an undercover investigation revealed a shocking lapse in security among TSA screeners.

In 67 of 70 attempts — more than 95 percent — undercover agents were able to sneak fake explosives and other banned items and weapons past TSA screeners.

ABC News first reported the findings.

The 67 successful attempts included one instance in which an undercover agent set off the security alarm, according to the Washington D.C.-based publication The Hill, yet was allowed to continue on after a pat-down — even though he had a fake bomb taped to his back.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement: “Over the past six years, we have seen TSA consume an enormous amount of government resources, but I’m not convinced we have much to show for it. After spending over $540 million on baggage screening equipment and millions more on training, the failure rate today is higher than it was in 2007. Something is not working. I have long been a proponent of using low-tech bomb-sniffing dogs to detect weapons and explosives. (The) government needs to recognize that the most effective solution is not always the most expensive one.”

Johnson said in a statement that Carraway is being reassigned to serve as head of the DHS Office of State and Local Law Enforcement.

“The President has nominated Coast Guard Vice Admiral Pete Neffenger to be the next Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. I urge the Senate to confirm this nomination as quickly as possible,” Johnson said.

Johnson also called for immediate changes in procedures by the TSA, including revisions to address vulnerabilities and the sharing of these results with airport officials across the country; training for all TSA screeners at every airport; testing and re-testing of security equipment; and continued undercover tests to maintain checks and balances.

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