It is perhaps America’s most unsafe airport. Despite being the launching point for one of the planes hijacked on 9/11 — Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania — Newark Airport has had numerous security violations since. The latest: a fake bomb that made it past Transportation Security Administration officers. Here, a Newark TSA screener who recently left the agency tells how silly policies and lazy workers do little to stop real threats:
A LOT of what we do is make-believe.
I’ve had to screen small children and explain to their parents I had no choice but to “check” them. I would only place my hands on their arms and bottom half of their legs, and the entire “pat-down” lasted 10 seconds. This goes completely against TSA procedure.
Because the cameras are recording our every move, we have to do something. If someone isn’t checked or even screened properly, the entire terminal would shut down, as this constitutes a security breach.
But since most TSA supervisors are too daft to actually supervise, bending the rules is easy to do.
Did you know you don’t need a high-school diploma or GED to work as a security screener? These are the same screeners that TSA chief John Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano refer to as a first-class first line of defense in the war on terror.
These are the employees who could never keep a job in the private sector. I wouldn’t trust them to walk my dog.
An agent got through Newark last week with an improvised explosive device? That’s not even news to anyone who works there. It happens all the time. The failure rate is pretty high, especially with federal investigators, and the pat-down itself is ridiculous. As invasive as it is, you still can’t find anything using the back of your hand on certain areas.
When there are internal tests, conducted by the Newark training department, it’s easy to cheat because they use our co-workers. You could be working with someone all morning, and then they’re gone. Word gets around the checkpoint. Someone will come over to you and say, “Hey, it’s Joe. He’s got a blue duffel bag.”
What are the chances of you being on a flight where something happens? We always said it’s not a question of if terrorists get through — it’s a question of when. Our feeling is nothing’s happened because they haven’t wanted it to happen. We’re not any big deterrent. It’s all for show.
A real pat-down is when a police officer pulls you over, uses his hands to search, actually goes into your clothes. We have to use the back of our hands around certain areas. It just doesn’t work. It’s a really bad way to pat somebody down.