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Government Investigators Smuggle Bomb Parts Past Security at 19 Airports

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert," November 15, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HEATHER NAUERT, CO-HOST: New developments tonight to help ease your air travel plans, John. AAA expects a record number of Americans to be traveling this Thanksgiving holiday, 4.7 million by air, Gibson here is one of them. That's a lot of people in the already overcrowded airports. But flyers may not encounter all of the hassles that they may be expecting. President Bush is promising to take steps to reduce air traffic congestion and long ground delays that have left passengers stranded. And today, he announced what those steps will be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The military will make available some of its airspace over the East Coast for use by civilian Airliners this Thanksgiving. The FAA is also partnering with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to reduce bottlenecks in the New York met row area, which is the source of most chronic delays.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIBSON: That military air space from Florida to Maine will be open next week for five days, Wednesday through Sunday, the busiest days for Thanksgiving travel.

Meantime, congestion, unfortunately, is not the biggest problem for air travelers to worry about. A new report says more that — after six years after 9/11, undercover federal agents have just managed to sneak bomb parts past security screeners at all 19 airports they tested. Scary stuff.

"Big Story" correspondent, Douglas Kennedy spoke to the chief investigator of that covert operation, today. They were batting a thousand?

DOUGLAS KENNED, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Unbelievable, John. I spoke with George Kutz from the general accounting office and he says they found huge holes in airport security. He says the problem is with airport screeners who are far too concerned with sweating the small stuff.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KENNEDY (voice-over): Screeners from the Transportation Security Administration were highly-skilled at finding soap and shampoos in airport luggage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go like this — pat you down, head to toe.

KENNEDY: But when it came to finding bombs big enough to blow up this car — they failed. That's the conclusion of a report from Congress's general accounting office, which conducted covert test at 19 airports in March, May and June of this year.

GREG KUTZ, GOVT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: We successfully passed through TSA Checkpoints with components for several explosive devices and an incendiary device.

KENNEDY: Investigators say they carried the components in both on carry-on luggage and in their pockets. But that's not the only thing that's concerning members of Congress.

JOHN MICA (R), FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: What's really scary is they're using the components that are readily available on the open market.

KENNEDY: In fact, investigators say they learned about the components of the improvised incendiary device, as well as the improvised explosive device, on the Internet. They also say they purchased all the components at local stores, all for under $150.

The report reads: "On March 23, a TSA Screener would not left one investigator through a checkpoint with a small, unlabelled bottle of shampoo, even though it was a legitimate carry-on item. But the same investigator was able to bring through a liquid component of bomb that would start a fire."

MIKE BOYD, AVIATION EXPERT: This is just the latest in a long of evidence that the TSA is a mess, it's in total chaos. The reality is, we don't have airport screening, we have the pointy-object patrol and no one wants to fix it.

KENNEDY: Mike Boyd is an aviation security analyst with the Boyd Group in Colorado. He says as we enter the busy season for travel, we are reminded once again that airport security needs a major overhaul.

BOYD: We're not going be safe until we get accountable professional security. The transportation security administration, as it stands today, is neither accountable nor professional.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KENNEDY: Boyd says airport screeners right now are simply looking for objects in luggage. He says, what they need to be doing is anticipating security threats which he says requires more extensive training. He says that's what they do in Israel, John and Heather, and that's exactly what we need to be doing in the United States.

GIBSON: Douglas, I do not understand it. We have been talking about this since way before 9/11. Why does it never end?

KENNEDY: They had the report — very similar report come out in 2006 and I asked Mike Boyd that exact question and he pointed out no TSA official has ever been fired after one of these reports. He says it's accountability. Until you get accountability you will not get change.

NAUERT: I bet the TSA guys are getting a promotion.

GIBSON: Douglas Kennedy. Douglas, thanks very much.

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