An investigation of TSA employees at Newark Liberty Airport found that the people charged with screening passengers for flights are do the important parts of their job correctly less than 20 percent of the time. That evaluation comes from TSA employees from other airports who were asked to secretly observe Newark employees to see how they performed their duties. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, their observations found that 83 percent of standard pat-downs of passengers were done incorrectly and the screeners failed to "identify and take appropriate action on prohibited items" in more than 75 percent of cases.
Worst of all, the percentage of passengers who were properly informed of their right to opt out of full body scans was zero. Not one. Unfortunately, for passengers who refused the scans on their own, there was also anecdotal evidence that they were subjected to more aggressive pat-downs.
On the bright side, the report did find that Newark screeners had "good listening skills" and were better at removing prohibited items found during physical searches.
Newark's airport has had some unfortunate security lapse in recent years, which has lead to a crackdown on screeners, many of whom have been replaced or sent in for retraining. Luckily, the lapses have been more embarrassing than dangerous, such as when it was revealed that a security supervisor was working there under an assumed name and an entire terminal had to be shut down because of a unscreened baby.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.