Hawley then contended that the components the GAO smuggled were not the ones used in the video footage. The GAO's Cooney corrected him.
Hawley also noted that GAO investigators did not smuggle a complete bomb past the checkpoint. Cooney, seated beside him, said: "We could simply have gone into the lavatory and constructed it there."
Hawley urged the congressional panel to see the screeners as just one part of a multilayered security system that includes agents trained to spot suspicious behavior, officers taught to check travel documents for forgeries, and computer pre- screening of passengers. Hawley pointed out the trade-offs the TSA faces: If the agency bans all liquids or limits carry-ons, "it puts more pressure on checked baggage," he said.
Hawley indicated that his agency was acquiring new checkpoint technology that could provide an effective alternative to aggressive physical searches. He cited machines that provide a full-body image. He also mentioned a planned purchase of a screening machine that can distinguish between banned and acceptable liquids. "It would very significantly add to our risk management," he said.
David Stone, a former TSA director and former head of security at Los Angeles International Airport, said the GAO probe should be seen as a starting point.
"When you have covert testing scores that show over a long period of time that you can defeat the checkpoint screening system using certain techniques, the question is: What equipment are you going to buy and how are you going to change your training in order to close the documented vulnerability?" Stone said. "Most people would say that you either have a screening technology shortfall or a screener training issue."
Investigators smuggled parts for liquid bombs past screeners at 19 locations; changes at TSA expected
Government investigators purchased components to make an improvised explosive device and an improvised incendiary device, and smuggled the parts past airport security.
75% not detected at LAX; 60% at O'Hare
Love that ban on liquids on a plane? No? Well, you'll still have to throw out that water bottle before you hit the airline security checkpoint because the ban probably will be in effect at least...