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U.S. News

Bomb parts get by U.S. airport security in tests

Passengers walk past water bottles left by others prior to entering a security checkpoint in Phoenix, Arizona November 22, 2006. Undercover government investigators were able to pass through U.S. airport security carrying liquids and other materials that could be used to make explosive devices, exposing vulnerabilities in the screening process, said a congressional report released on Wednesday. REUTERS/Jeff Topping

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Undercover government investigators were able to pass through U.S. airport security carrying liquids and other materials that could be used to make explosive devices, exposing vulnerabilities in the screening process, said a congressional report released on Wednesday.

The tests “clearly demonstrated that a terrorist using these devices could cause severe damage to an airplane and threaten the safety of passengers,” said the report by the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

Investigators found instructions on the Internet for creating the devices and purchased the components over the Internet and from a local store for less than $150, the report said.

In most cases, Transportation Security Administration officers followed proper procedure but the investigators managed to get the concealed material onto airplanes by taking advantage of weaknesses in the system, the report said.

The tests were requested by the House of Representatives’ government oversight committee to determine whether there were security gaps in the passenger screening process after more stringent policies were implemented in August 2006.

“The TSA needs to explain how after spending billions of dollars over six years, it still is failing to stop dangerous materials from making it onto airplanes. This is unacceptable and has to be fixed,” said chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat.

GAO officials were scheduled to discuss their findings on Thursday in testimony before the panel.

Reporting by Joanne Allen, editing by Chris Wilson

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