Airline Screeners Fail Bomb Tests

Lisa Myers reports on the continued ineptitude of TSA airport screeners.

Imagine an explosion strong enough to blow a car’s trunk apart, caused by a bomb inside a passenger plane. Government sources tell NBC News that federal investigators recently were able to carry materials needed to make a similar homemade bomb through security screening at 21 airports. In all 21 airports tested, no machine, no swab, no screener anywhere stopped the bomb materials from getting through. Even when investigators deliberately triggered extra screening of bags, no one discovered the materials.

The results don’t surprise me. The type of people who would be carrying bombs onto planes tend to be sharper than the kind of people who take jobs as airport screeners and there’s only so much scanning machines can do at this point. The problem, though, is that we are subjecting the American traveling public to annoying (and in my judgment, unconstitutional) government inspections that are completely worthless.

FILED UNDER: Uncategorized, US Constitution, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Hey, but they sure make us FEEL more secure, don’t they?

  2. LJD says:

    Of course passenger screening is an effective deterrent…
    … well, not anymore.

  3. McGehee says:

    LJD, this report tends to deter me from wanting to fly anymore.

  4. I suspect that their real value is less that they would catch someone as that they raise the chance of catching someone so the terrorist looks for a less well defended target.

    Read up about the El Al security measures. One of the key elements is the personal interview where the pressure the interviewer applies is the key ingredient to making the knowledgeable terrorist break. The other key ingredient is for the dupe who is acting without knowledge to reveal that they were duped.

    But would you really rather spend 10 to 30 minutes with an interviewer to buy that level of safety (and the cost for that)?

  5. James Joyner says:

    yaj: No, because it just doesn’t make sense in the US situation. That doesn’t mean we should have security measures in place that provide no security, though. We should do more screening that works (checked baggage and such) and have already reinforced cockpit doors.

  6. anjin-san says:

    Years after 9-11, airport security remains a joke. Another triumph for Bush.

  7. Dave Schuler says:

    Worthless? Nonsense. The screeners are paid salaries, aren’t they?

    And, as DC Loser points out above, they make travellers feel secure without the airlines or government being compelled to implement the painful measures that would result in actually enhanced security.

  8. James Joyner says:


    Yes, they’re being paid salaries. Out of the taxpayers’ pockets.

    For what? Making stupid people feel better? How many people do you know who actually DO feel better?

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m pointing out that what you pay for something is its value. By definition.

  10. floyd says:

    dave; you’re kidding? right? are you getting your money’s worth from your government? your medical plan? theater tickets[every show]? school taxes?