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Internal DHS Report: 'Vulnerabilities' Identified in TSA Body Scanner Screening Process


"We identified vulnerabilities in the screening process at the passenger screening checkpoint at the domestic airports..."

Part of the investigation over Monday's Al-Qaeda underwear bomb plot that was foiled by the CIA involves evaluating whether the "sophisticated new design" of the bomb could have passed through airport security. As this news continues to unfold, Wired reports an internal report of the Department of Homeland Security was recently revealed, noting "vulnerabilities in the screening process" for the controversial full-body scanners at many airport security check-points.

(Related: CIA thwarts another  Al-Qaeda underwear bomb plot)

Wired says the report does not detail "how bad" the full body scanners are, but an unclassified Inspector General report from Nov. 2011 was found by the Electronic Information Privacy Center on Friday and shares a snippet of information. EPIC is challenging the full report's "Sensitive Security Information" classification and in a separate lawsuit has also challenged the use of the scanners as a whole, calling them "invasive, unlawful, and ineffective."

The report states the Transportation Security Administration as of Jan. 2011 had spent $87 million on the new scanner program, which the Office of the Inspector General evaluated the effectiveness of and whether the TSA officials at checkpoints followed the proper procedures. This information was presented to the DHS, TSA and Congressional committees.

Here's what the Inspector General writes in the unclassified one-page report:

We identified vulnerabilities in the screening process at the passenger screening checkpoint at the domestic airports where we conducted testing. As a result of our testing, we made eight recommendations and TSA concurred with all the recommendations. When fully implemented, these recommendations should strengthen the overall effectiveness of the screening process at the passenger screening checkpoint. TSA appreciated the work done by the Office of Inspector General and will analyze the audit results as part of its ongoing efforts to assess and improve passenger checkpoint screening. The agency acknowledged that improvements can be made in the operation of new passenger screening technologies to prevent individuals with threat objects from entering airport sterile areas undetected. TSA will continue to take the necessary steps to increase the effectiveness of [advanced imaging technology].

Wired reports EPIC attorney Amie Stepanovich saying the group will be filing a Freedom of Information Act claim in order to try and divulge the information in the full report, saying it "involves a program that is important to the public."

As Wired notes, the backscatter X-ray scanners are no stranger to suggested vulnerabilities. Check out Wired's three-part series on the "nude" scanners for more on their questionable effectiveness here.

The Blaze has also reported on the scanners controversial history from the program's privacy changes last summer to just last month a blogger claiming to have found security loopholes. See more stories from the Blaze on the scanners and TSA here.

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