TSA grilled by lawmakers on airport security

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WASHINGTON- Are America’s airports really safe?

Lawmakers in Washington want to know what is TSA doing to protect our skies.

“Aviation and other modes of transportation remain highly sought after targets by terrorist,” said Patricia Cogswell, TSA’s acting deputy.

On the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, TSA acting deputy Patricia Cogswell told a Senate committee her agency is working diligently to combat growing threats at airports across the country.

“We know the importance of assessing risks as we carry out our mission,” said Cogswell.

Cogswell told lawmakers the agency is implementing security policies ordered by congress last year.

“TSA has completed more than 46% of the 180 requirements,” said Cogswell.

Those include expanded TSA pre-checks and more K9 patrols. But Senator Roger Wicker says the agency isn’t moving fast enough.

“I remain concerned about the pace of TSA deployment,” said Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi.

“You have had some true flaws in here,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee.

Blackburn points to a 2015 report showing agents were letting dangerous items through security.

“Weapons getting passed your screeners 90 percent of the time by the red teams,” said Blackburn.

The TSA says technology like biometric scanners reduces potential for human errors.

But some lawmakers say the technology raises privacy concerns.

“I’m concerned we’ve become the wild wild west when it comes to biometric face screenings,” said Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

Markey wants the TSA to be more transparent about how the facial recognition data is used.

“In my opinion, [the TSA] should stop deploying these invasive tools until we can assure everything is in place in order to satisfy the need to protect information,” Markey said.

But the TSA says technology like that will be vital for preventing future attacks.

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