Wednesday, December 15, 2004

 

Think I'll start flying out of Philly...

Now if we can only persuade the terrorists to use fake bombs...
Bomb detection test goes wrong at Newark Airport

BY RON MARSICO
Star-Ledger Staff

Federal security screeners lost a bag containing a test explosive last night at Newark Liberty International Airport, creating a major security breach in Terminal C, a high- ranking U.S. Transportation Security Administration official confirmed early today. The test explosive was a fake because it contained "an inert material" and was not dangerous, the official said. Individuals familiar with the incident said the luggage, tagged for a Continental flight to Amsterdam, could not be found and was presumed to be on the outbound flight, which was scheduled to depart the airport sometime after 6 p.m.

The test explosive was placed in the bag by a supervisor and sent through an SUV-size bomb-detection machine, according to individuals familiar with the incident. But TSA baggage screeners lost sight of the bag after the machine sounded an alarm, and the bag slipped through to the secure side of the airport, the individuals said. After searching the terminal for several hours, the bag was not found, the individuals said.

Reached late last night, Marcus Arroyo, the federal security director at Newark Airport, said only that he was "in the middle of something."

Despite the breach, no flights were delayed and the terminal was not shut down.

The security lapse is the latest problem for the TSA at Newark Airport, one of three airports used by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. The TSA has suffered from staffing shortages and a range of security troubles throughout the year.

In October, it was revealed that screeners at Newark Airport missed one in four fake explosives and weapons in covert weekly tests conducted throughout the summer by TSA agents, according to confidential reports obtained by The Star-Ledger.

Last night's incident is similar to one that embarrassed aviation security officials in France last week when authorities there lost a bag containing explosives used to test bomb-sniffing dogs. Those explosives, however, were real. Officials in France said the incident prompted them to issue an edict prohibiting the use of live explosives in future tests. The TSA official, speaking only on condition of anonymity, said the test included "simulated Semtex," which is a common plastic explosive, as well as a detonator, wiring and a clock. The items are typically part of a test explosive kit.
So there's a bag full of fake explosive somewhere out there. Wonder if whoever finds it will put it out on eBay immediately or wait 24 hours.

Of course, the wingnuts will start screaming that this means we should scrap the TSA immediately and go back to private contractors. That's their solution for everything - destroy government, sell it all off to the highest bidder. The notion of fixing the government agency instead of immediately shitcanning it the instant anything goes wrong - never occurs to them. Well, okay, of course it does, but it is immediately rejected as not being part of their religious doctrine.
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