NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is a demand for a top-to-bottom review of security operations at Newark Liberty International Airport after an undercover inspector with a bomb in his pants got through not one but two checkpoints and then was cleared to get on a plane.
The latest security lapse at Newark almost seems like a really bad joke, but it’s no joke. The agent even survived a pat-down, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Friday.
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The Transportation Security Administration would not disclose the make-up of the mock bomb, but if it was real, it could have blown a hole large enough to bring a plane down, experts said.
“Newark Airport did terribly. The fact that you could have potential explosives getting on a plane 11 years after 9/11 is absolutely inexcusable,” Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) said.
Congressman King, chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on counterterrorism, is demanding a top-down review of Newark’s security procedures.
“You can’t have any tolerance for error. One explosive on one plane and our whole world changes again,” Rep. King said.
The breach occurred a few weeks ago when the TSA staged a mock intrusion at Newark Liberty’s Terminal B, where many international flights depart, including some to Israel and the Middle East, CBS 2′s Kramer reported.
The incident was part of an undercover inspection at Newark and followed an abysmal performance on an audit last October.
The audit found that Newark TSA agents:
* Followed proper pat down procedures just 16.7 percent of the time.
* Confiscated banned items from carry-on luggage just 25 percent of the time.
Airline passengers were understandably disturbed by the latest revelation.
“I think that’s pretty poor, considering I can’t bring conditioner on the plane. How did he get past with that? I don’t know,” passenger Lynne Sterenson of Cedar Grove, N.J., told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan.
“It’s scary. I fly a lot,” added Lindsey Gill of Waldwick, N.J. “So much emphasis is placed on airport security; so much money, so much time, so to think that that could happen. What else has gotten through?”
“My heart just skipped a beat, so I don’t feel great about it. I travel weekly,” added Jim Harold of Cincinnati.
“It’s ridiculous. I don’t even know how that happens,” another passenger said.
Newark has long struggled with security. Last year, 52 agents were fired and there were 19 disciplines.
The TSA did not identify the screeners who made the mistakes or reveal if they were punished, but did say its workers are given feedback on the outcome of the drills for training purposes.
Reports of the latest breach follows the TSA’s decision earlier this week to allow pocket knives on planes.
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