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Editorial: Airport security

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

New government reports say security at U.S. airports is no better today than it was before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, even though travelers continue to be inconvenienced and spend hours waiting in long lines to be screened.

The Government Accountability Office (a congressional investigative unit) and the Homeland Security Department inspector both issued reports saying that the Transportation Security Administration screeners are not performing up to standard. The TSA puts the blame on faulty equipment and poor technology.

Improving the ability of screeners to find dangerous items has been the TSA's goal since it took on the job of airport security in 2002. More than 450 of the nation's airports have TSA screeners, including the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport -- where several TSA agents process a handful of passengers for each of the commuter flights to St. Louis.

The TSA says X-ray machines today can identify many more objects than they could before Sept. 11. TSA screeners continue to find nearly half a million banned items each month that passengers try to bring on board, including 160,000 knives, 2,000 box cutters and 70 guns.

Air travelers want to feel secure, and the fact is that there haven't been any more terrorist attacks involving airplanes since 2001.

This is no time to ease up on airport security. But for all the effort and money being expended, the reports should have contained better news.


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