Speaking from the White House Tuesday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Americans can be confident airports around the country are secure and that President Obama still has confidence in the TSA.
"The President does believe the American people should feel confident in traveling airports all across the country because there are security measures in place to protect the traveling public," Earnest said. "The President does continue to have confidence that the officers of the TSA do very important work that continues to protect the American people and continue to protect the American aviation system."
"Now, what's also true is that there were specific concerns that were raised by this classified report that was conducted by the independent inspector general and in response to that report the Director of Homeland Security directed the TSA to undertake seven specific steps to address those concerns. That's everything from new, intensive training for supervisors across the country, to revising standard operating procedures, retesting screening equipment and even redoubling our efforts to ensure that the most up to date, modern screening equipment is being used in airports across the country to keep us safe," Earnest continued. "Our efforts to develop a multi-layered security approach means that we have effective measures in place to counter threats to our aviation system and we are always looking for ways to strengthen those efforts. Efforts to refine those security strategies are sometimes visible to the traveling public, sometimes those strategies are not obvious."
This statement from Earnest comes just one day after an internal government report showed TSA failed to prevent potential terror attacks carried out with knifes or explosives 96 percent of the time during undercover tests.
The series of tests were conducted by Homeland Security Red Teams who pose 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 one test an undercover agent was stopped after setting off an alarm at a magnetometer, but TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow-on pat down.
When asked directly if there was any outrage from the President when he heard the 96 percent figure, Earnest didn't give a direct answer. Further, Earnest said it's important for the Senate to confirm President Obama's nominee, Coast Guard Vice Commander Peter Neffenger, to head the TSA.
TSA receives $8 billion in taxpayer funding each year. Late yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson reassigned the head of the agency in light of these new revelations.