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Next time you're taking off your shoes and getting virtually nekkid in the airport scanner, you might want to keep this little factoid in mind: You're probably receiving closer scrutiny than some of the people working in the airport. The Transportation Security Agency just did a cavity search on the nation's airports and found 73 people working in the airline industry who should have been flagged for their "terrorism-related category codes" as security risks.


The terrific news, according to the TSA report, is that TSA is getting a whole lot better at finding these security risks the second time it looks through airline employee records:

In addition to initially vetting every application for new credentials, TSA recurrently vetted aviation workers with access to secured areas of commercial airports every time the Consolidated Terrorist Watchlist was updated.

Which is sort of comforting, we suppose, although it's undercut by finding those 73 people who really never should have been anywhere near an airport in the first place. The TSA says the problem is that it "is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related categories under current interagency watchlisting policy," so it only found the potential miscreants as it reviewed people who were already hired. The agency relies on airports and airlines to do the initial vetting of employees, but "had limited oversight over these commercial entities," who let the potential baddies slip through the cracks.

Now wait just a minute here, is the TSA saying that private enterprise wasn't as good as Big Government? That's probably socialism! And just to add to the fucktussle, the report found that "thousands of records used for vetting workers contained potentially incomplete or inaccurate data, such as an initial for a first name and missing social security numbers," so maybe that's something they want to work on, mmmkay? The report recommends tighter review of job applicants, plus burdensome government regulations like requiring employers to really check out their workers, lest a Cinnabon cashier bring down a jet. Don't laugh, it could happen -- it's in this screenplay we're writing. Maybe they're just saying that all airport employees at least need to pass a smell test.

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Also, too, an internal investigation of the TSA by Homeland Security "Red Teams" -- investigators posing as passengers -- found that security agents "were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials," news that will probably result in a rash of people feeling like they can get away with sneaking five ounces of personal lubricant into their luggage instead of the allowed four.

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According to officials briefed on the results of a recent Homeland Security Inspector General’s report, TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests, with Red Team members repeatedly able to get potential weapons through checkpoints.

In one test an undercover agent was stopped after setting off an alarm at a magnetometer, but TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow-on pat down.

Well, yes, there are occasional little slip-ups, but the important thing to remember is that the only people trying to smuggle weapons onto airplanes anyway are DHS investigators, the occasional stupid news reporter, and Texas legislators who forget their guns in their carry-on luggage.

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You'll be reassured to know that after the most recent screwup, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told the TSA to get its act together, and the agency will "implement a series of actions, several of which are now in place, to address the issues raised in the report." So with actions being implemented, we can all feel a little safer, and the TSA can get back to yelling at teen girls about their immodest clothes, making women prove their breast milk won't explode, and groping the occasional child or member of Congress.

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We're feeling much, much safer now. And bookmarking the Amtrak website for our next trip.

[Daily Beast / ABC News]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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