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Reason Foundation

Private TSA screeners whoop government screeners

Samuel Staley
October 17, 2007, 8:18am

USA Today is reporting that covert tesitng at Chicago O'Hare, LAX, and San Franisco airports found 60% of fake bombs got through the TSA screeners. But, it's worse than that. More than three quarters of the fake bombs and bomb parts got through screeners at LAX. Just 20% got through at San Francisco. Guess what? The SF screeners are private contractors! "The failure rates at Los Angeles and Chicago stunned security experts," USA Today reported. Twenty percent is still a lot, but its a lot better than the government screeners. Perhaps it has something to do with accountaibility? The private contractors lose their jobs. Government screeners are sent to retraining workshops. Also, the 20% rate for the private contractor is lower than the rate when TSA took over security screening. So, performance has fallen since the government takeover. USA Today reports:
A report on covert tests in 2002 found screeners failed to find fake bombs, dynamite and guns 24% of the time. The TSA ran those tests shortly after it took over checkpoint screening from security companies. Tests earlier in 2002 showed screeners missing 60% of fake bombs. In the late 1990s, tests showed that screeners missed about 40% of fake bombs, according to a separate report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The recent TSA report says San Francisco screeners face constant covert tests and are "more suspicious."
Suprise, surprise.

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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