NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) was appalled by the revelation that an undercover inspector with a bomb in his pants got through two checkpoints at Newark-Liberty International Airport and was cleared to get on a plane.
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King said if the bomb had been real, a dozen years of progress in security and defense could have been undone.
“Have one bomb go off one airplane, and apart from the tragic loss of human life, this will bring us right back to September 11, (2001),” King told WCBS 880.
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.
Given what the nation learned on Sept. 11, 2001, there is no way a bomb being brought onto a plane can be tolerated in the slightest, King said.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful that almost 12 years after September 11, that an explosive device could be brought an airplane in an airport – especially one so close to Ground Zero, the Newark Airport. And there has been a pattern of bad behavior at Newark Airport by TSA inspectors.”
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.
King said these results simply are not acceptable.
“These types of random tests are essential to test the TSA inspectors. They should be 100 percent, because there’s no margin for error when it comes to bringing a bomb on a plane, but my understanding is that almost all of the devices – these are fake devices, but nevertheless, they were brought on the plane, and almost all of them got past the inspectors. It’s inexcusable.”
King, chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on counterterrorism, is demanding a top-down review of Newark’s security procedures.
“I’ve called on the head of the TSA – John Pistole – told him that he has to report to Congress showing what he’s doing to correct this, what action is being taken against those who failed these tests, and what can be done to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future,” King told WCBS 880.
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?”
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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