TSA Spent $160 Million on L-3 Body Scanners that Don’t Detect Weapons and Explosives

Thursday, August 20, 2015
(photo: David McNew, Getty Images)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has spent millions of dollars on one contractor’s body scanners that consistently fail to detect bombs and weapons.


L-3 Communications has manufactured more than 99% of the body scanners used at airport checkpoints. About $120 million was spent on body scanners that are currently in use, but that can’t seem to identify metals and explosives that would keep threats off planes.


“A recent security audit found that TSA had failed to find fake explosives and weapons in 96 percent of covert tests,” Politico reported. “And members of Congress familiar with the classified details say the body scanners are to blame for much of the problem.”


The other $40 million was spent on the “naked” X-ray scanners that TSA took out of service at airports after concerns about the machines posing health risks and the detailed images of travelers’ anatomies.


The performance of the body scanners has been so bad that one lawmaker, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), said TSA should use metal detectors as a backup system to catch threats. “These things weren’t even catching metal,” he said.


“If you really want to keep using those, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t, at a minimum we should put a metal detector on the other side,” Johnson told Politico. “Why not go through two? You’ve just gotta use common sense.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Price for TSA’s Failed Body Scanners: $160 Million (by Jennifer Scholtes, Politico)

TSA Screeners Fail to Notice Mock Explosives and Banned Weapons in 67 of 70 Tests (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Airport X-Ray Scanners Can be Hacked to Mask Weapons (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

TSA Has Completely Removed Revealing X-Ray Scanners From America's Airports: Rep (by Carol Kuruvilla, New York Daily News)


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