TSA Official Warned Airports in Advance of Secret Security Tests

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Surprise inspections aren’t much good if the surprise gets blown. That’s what happened in April 2006 when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) tried to pull off a series of security tests at 12 airports around the country. The test was compromised when an unidentified official in TSA’s Office of Security Operations sent out an email alerting employees that inspectors were on the way. It not only told information about the test, but also how to spot inspectors making their way through security checkpoints.

TSA’s former top official, Kip Hawley, later told lawmakers before the House Committee on Homeland Security that the email had merely been a mistake, and the individual responsible wasn’t trying to tip off screeners at airports. A top deputy at TSA tried to recall the email once it became known, but by then it was too late.
The agency’s inspector general (IG), however, didn’t buy Hawley’s excuse, pointing out that the email went out to nearly 400 TSA employees. The agency also did not bother to notify the IG that the test had been compromised.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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