Insecure Security Screeners

At America's busiest airport, the lines are often long. But some federal screeners in Atlanta say their safety training falls way short, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann.

All federal screeners are required to get three hours of safety training a week by the TSA, or Transportation Security Administration.

"It's not being done right. It's not being done right at all," said screener John Summerour.

Summerour says his last real training was when he was hired, right after 9/11.

"Our job is to get them through as fast as possible, Summerour told Strassmann.

"Even if it means compromising safety?" asked Strassmann.

"Even if it means compromising safety," he said. "Somebody will come up to you and say 'Get those passengers moving.'"

At Atlanta's airport, TSA screeners routinely have to sign a form, saying they received their training.

Ricardo Richardson says his continuing training has been virtually non-existent.

"And do you sign?" Strassmann asked.

"I sign," he replied.

"Because?"

"Because it's a threat and I don't want to lose my job," Richardson said.

The training's supposed to go on every week, in part because the threat keeps changing every week. And at the very least, screeners have to be taught how to recognize, and sound the alarm about, potential weapons.

While some threats are obvious, some of the most deadly are not.

"For instance, C-4, plastic explosive -- do you know what it looks like?" Strassmann asked Summerour.

"No, sir."

"No idea?"

"No, sir," Summerour said.

Atlanta's federal security director blames a misunderstanding about what the TSA means by training -- and denies any pressure on employees to sign forms.

And the TSA insists training is adequate.

"We have a few screeners who didn't understand how the three hours was counted. And, in fact, much of the testing and in-service work that's done counts for three-hour requirement training per week," said TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield.

But TSA critics see another red flag.

"What we've done is created a giant DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) from hell. We really haven't created a real security organization," said aviation industry expert Michael Boyd.

Staffed by screeners who say they're insecure about their training.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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