July 13, 2011 -- The Transportation Security Administration has suffered more than 25,000 security breaches in U.S. airports in the past ten years, House subcommittee on National Security chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said today.
Chaffetz made the comments during the opening of a hearing on the TSA and Airport Security. Of the 25,000 breaches, more than 14,000 people were able to access sensitive areas of the airport and some 6,000 passengers and carry-on luggage were able to make it past government checkpoints without proper scrutiny.
"[And] these are just the ones we know about," Chaffetz said.
In one recent example, a JetBlue cleaning crew discovered a stun gun which had somehow been smuggled onto a flight from Boston to Newark on Friday, an apparent glaring breach of security.
In a statement to ABC News, the TSA said the 25,000 breaches "represent a tiny fraction of one percent" of the billions of passengers screened at the nation's airports since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. "Airports today are safer than ever before," the statement said.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than 4.3 billion passengers traveled through major U.S. airports between November 2001 and December 2010.
One TSA spokesperson said the breach count was also misleading because a breach is defined as anything from a misplaced checked bag to someone who was caught in the act of breaching security, according to the AP.
"Unfortunately, we have to be right all the time," Chaffetz said today. "Terrorists only have to be lucky once."
In addition to the thousands of security breaches, Chaffetz is reportedly concerned that the TSA has given airport credentials to nearly a million workers, presenting potential insider threat.
Danger of 'Belly Bombs'
Today's hearing is the second in a TSA Oversight series dealing with airport security. The first part of the hearing dealt extensively with "Whole Body Imaging" at security checkpoints. But that hearing, conducted in March, took place before U.S. officials issued a bulletin earlier last week concerning the danger of "belly bombs" -- bombs surgically implanted in potential terrorists.
According to U.S. officials, a would-be attacker would slip through airport security, board a plane and detonate the bomb using a chemical-filled syringe.
"Al Qaeda has been working for over a year on the idea of implanting bombs surgically in human beings and they may now have actually done that," Richard Clarke, former White House counter-terror advisor and ABC News consultant, said after the bulletin was issued.