Better Airport Security Checks

Air travelers have endured extra security delays since 9/11. But have the increased hassles (such as taking off one's shoes) made flying any safer?

Not quite. A test of airport screeners by the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, shows there's more work to be done to secure airplanes from hijackers.

In 1,164 tests between September 2002 and February 2004, the GAO tried to get weapons past screeners at 127 airports. The results remain classified as to the type of weapon, but a ranking Democrat on a House committee who saw the results said screening was no better than 17 years ago. Screeners missed some 20 percent of dangerous objects.

And Homeland Security Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin told the committee that both federal and private screeners "performed about the same, which is to say, equally poorly."

The GAO report found that the Transportation Security Administration "continues to face challenges in hiring, deploying, and training its screener workforce" and that TSA is "overly bureaucratic."

This implies a major misuse of money and time since 9/11, especially the big effort to hire some 50,000 new federal airport security employees. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge needs to show better results.

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