The effectiveness of security at foreign airports has come into question in the wake of last weekend's deadly Russian jet crash after takeoff from Egypt's Sharm El Sheikh Airport, and today, Rep. Adam Schiff said security is a problem at United States airports as well.
"This is a problem here at home. When we test the TSA, they fail," Schiff told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos today on "This Week." "And I think we really need to step up our security here." Schiff, D-California, is the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which oversees components of agencies including the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
An internal investigation of the Transportation Security Administration revealed security failures at dozens of the nation’s busiest airports, where undercover investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials, ABC News learned this summer. The series of tests were conducted by Homeland Security Red Teams who posed as passengers, setting out to beat the system.
According to officials briefed on the results of a recent Homeland Security Inspector General’s report, TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests, with Red Team members repeatedly able to get potential weapons through checkpoints.
In response to last weekend's crash, the Department of Homeland Security announced new security enhancements Friday for commercial flights bound for the U.S. from certain foreign airports.
"While there are no direct commercial air flights from Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt to the United States, these enhancements are designed to provide an additional layer of security for the traveling public, and will be undertaken in consultation with relevant foreign governments and relevant passenger and cargo airlines," DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement Friday. This covers fewer than 10 airports, all of which are in the region.
Today Schiff said on "This Week" that a lot also needs to be done at airports overseas "to make sure that these airports, for example, have those precautions in place to examine the employees that have access."
"ISIS may have concluded that the best way to defeat airport defenses is not to go through them but to go around them with the help of somebody on the inside," Schiff said. "And if that's the case, I think there probably are at least a dozen airports in the region and beyond that are vulnerable to the same kind of approach, which is exactly why we have to harden those defenses."
Rep. Peter King, R-New York, who also appeared on "This Week" today, agreed on the need for tightened security abroad.
"There are a number of airports ... in that region which do not have anywhere near the security that's needed. And their flights coming to the U.S., going to Europe, so we're going to have to really insist that that's going to be tightened up," he said.
"And I think U.S. and Western countries have to play more of a role as far as firming up the security," King said.