The document also includes a list of VIPs and federal officials who can get specialized or no screening, as well as items that screeners can opt not to check, including wheelchairs, footwear of the disabled, prosthetic devices and casts and orthopedic shoes.
Said former TSA inspector general Clark Kent Ervin, "It obviously gives a road map to terrorists as to exactly how to exploit the weaknesses in our aviation security system. And it's particularly galling because we've spent the bulk of our money and attention since 9/11 on the aviation sector."
The TSA was created after the 9/11 attacks as a response to the ease with which hijackers were able to get through airport security. But it has been a troubled agency from the beginning.
"I'm afraid to say that there has been a pattern of incompetence and ineptitude on the part of the TSA over the years," said Ervin. "There have been improvements in TSA, but it appears as though these kinds of things happen again and again."
In a written statement the TSA said the inadvertently released screening manual is an outdated version of procedures from last year that has since been updated six times.
Even so, the TSA has launched a full investigation. One thing officials have already learned is that if they had blacked out the sensitive parts with a magic marker, instead of a fancy computer program, there would have been no way for this breach to happen.