19:16 GMT +308 December 2019
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    Go Figure: Obama Still Confident in TSA, Even With Its 95% Failure Rate

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    President Barack Obama is still confident in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), despite agents’ consistent failure in identifying and preventing undercover agents from transporting weapons through the United States’ busiest airports.

    A scathing report on Monday revealed that the TSA, the agency tasked with screening airline passengers and ensuring safety at US airports, failed 95% of internal tests conducted by the Department of Homeland Security. Of the 70 tests carried out by undercover agents with the DHS, TSA officers allowed 67 to smuggle fake weapons and explosives past airport checkpoints.

    Despite the remarkable failure, President Barack Obama remains confident in the agency’s ability to protect the nation’s transportation hubs, according to the White House.

    "The president does continue to have confidence that TSA officers do very important work that continues to protect the American people," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday. "The American public should feel confident traveling in airports across the country."

    Saying the report raised "specific concerns" about security procedures in US airports, the White House spokesman added that he expects the agency to adopt the recommendations outlined in the review, including retraining employees and retesting screening equipment.  He also maintained that the US has a "multi-layered" approach to protect travelers.

    While the report may not have influenced Obama’s confidence in the TSA, it has prompted DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to reassign the agency’s acting director, Melvin Carraway.

    "Effective immediately, Melvin Carraway, the Acting Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, will be reassigned to serve in the Office of State and Local Law Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security Headquarters," Johnson said in a statement on Tuesday. "Acting Deputy Director Mark Hatfield will lead TSA until a new Acting Administrator is appointed."

    In the press briefing, Earnest directed criticism towards the US Senate, chastising them for acting too slowly on confirming the Obama-nominated Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger as a permanent TSA Director.

    Noting that the Senate has only held one hearing on Neffenger since his nomination in April, Earnest said "We would have more confidence if we could have a more permanent, Senate-confirmed director on the job."

    "We would like to see Congress act more quickly to confirm him," he added.

    For their part, however, US lawmakers have redirected the blame to the president, criticizing him for taking too long to nominate a new TSA chief. The agency’s former director John Pistole announced his resignation in August, and Obama nominated Neffenger more than six months later.

    "I understand the White House is raising some concerns about the lack of a confirmed TSA administrator," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his spokesman Don Stewart in an email. "But folks, the White House is the cause of this delay."


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    White House, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Mitch McConnell, Don Stewart, John Pistole, Peter Neffenger, Josh Earnest, United States
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