TSA audit finds major security flaws at Newark Liberty Airport

A stranded traveler rests in the baggage claim area of Newark Liberty International Airport Terminal B Dec. 27, 2010, in Newark, N.J.
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NEWARK, N.J. An internal audit by the Transportation Security Administration gave failing grades to agents at Newark Liberty Airport, adding to a long list of security concerns the New Jersey airport has dealt with.

The recently released audit found that Newark TSA agents followed proper pat-down procedures just 16.7 percent of the time and confiscated banned items from carry-on luggage just 25 percent of the time, according to CBS New York affiliate WCBS.

"Obviously that's a big problem," David Katz of the Global Security Group told CBS correspondent Marcia Kramer Monday. "Newark does seem to have more than its fair share of security issues."

Last May, Homeland Security officials said Newark Liberty was the worst of six major airports when it came to security breaches.

In June, TSA screeners were fired for sleeping on the job when they were supposed to be searching for explosives.

And in August, more than 100 flights were cancelled after a passenger made it through a checkpoint without being screened properly. The airport was similarly shut down for over an hour in April after it was discovered a baby wasn't properly screened.

Katz said he is worried the vulnerabilities exposed in the latest audit may be an open invitation to terrorists looking for a place to strike.

"If they see an area when perhaps we are not doing as good a job as we could, that's where they're going to go," he told WCBS.

The TSA said the report was a "snapshot in time" and that it was working on improving its security.

"This is an agency that evaluates its workforce constantly with an eye toward continuous improvement," a TSA spokesman said.

The report wasn't entirely negative. TSA screeners at Newark Liberty airport were found to have properly removed banned items during physical searches al the time.

Newark passengers, however, were anything but comforted by the new report.

"It makes me feel a little scared," said Markeisha Ensley. "I'd hoped that things were a little bit better after 9/11."

TSA would not say whether the security audits were done at other airports, and, if so, what the findings were.