Senate to Investigate TSA Security Breach

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Transportation Security Administration officials will face tough questioning at a Senate hearing Wednesday, which comes after TSA posted some of its most sensitive and secret information online.

Clark Kent Ervin, the former inspector general of Homeland Security, called the information, "gold in the hand of terrorists."

"It's particularly galling, because we've spent the bulk of our money and attention since 9/11 on the aviation sector, and this really is laying bare what the weaknesses are," Ervin said.

A 93-page TSA manual was posted online as part of a contract bidding process. The top secret parts of the book were blacked out electronically, but bloggers were able to remove it and learn things such as:

  • What size electrical wire can go undetected by airport screening machines
  • The names of VIPs who can get specialized or no screening
  • ID cards for CIA agents and federal air marshals.

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill have called the information a "road map to terrorists," that shows them "exactly where we're vulnerable."

"You have redacted statements on your own indicating that those statements should not be available to the public," said House Homeland Security committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. "And as soon as it went up, it was compromised. So obviously the security systems within TSA were not as robust as they should have been."

The documents also reveal other information like what items screeners can choose not to check, including wheelchairs, footwear of the disabled, prosthetic devices, casts and orthopedic shoes.

TSA has launched an investigation into how the information was posted for anyone to see. However TSA officials say the leaked information is out-dated.

Some critics blame the security breach on the fact TSA has no permanent director in place. That nomination is still being considered in the Senate.

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