Tougher TSA bomb tests raise stakes for screeners

Constant checks sharpening skills, agency asserts

"I kind of like it," Thomas said. "It keeps you a little bit sharp, and you don't feel pressured, like you're going to get fired or written up." Screeners who miss fake bombs are pulled aside, shown the piece they missed and are ordered to complete training.

The classified TSA report illustrates the tests' difficulty. In the fake bomb hidden in a toiletry kit, the battery and timer "are not discernible amongst the other clutter," the report says. But the "distinct image of a detonator is clearly visible."

The CD player filled with fake plastic explosives is "not readily discernible" but should be spotted by screeners because "the dense organic mass is visible in the upper left-hand corner of the bag," according to the report.

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