Cover Story: Airport Security: Are we any safer?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - U.S. airports may still be vulnerable to terror attacks.  But it's the Transportation Security Administration that's in the cross-hairs on Capitol Hill.

Testifying before a House committee this week, Charlotte Douglas Aviation Director Jerry Orr.

Orr says the TSA is plagued by a "rigid attitude of arrogance and bureaucracy."

This is about airport security, and some in Congress are saying that we're no safer now than we were on 9/11.

Who can't remember the old cartoon Spy versus Spy?  It was always a battle of good versus evil.

What was fun and games 50 years ago.. is life and death in the real world today.  Nearly 10 years since the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil the bad guys haven't stopped trying to get us.

Karl de la Guerra, a nationally known counter terrorism expert and the president and co-founder of International Protective Services Institute, says our enemies aren't quitting.

"It's a classic Spy vs. Spy is what it ends up being. As we create as we try to get ahead of the curve.. they are trying to get ahead of the curve also," says de la Guerra.

Wednesday in Congress pointed questions were raised as to why we're not doing a better job at security.

One of those raising the issue was Charlotte Douglas Airport Director Jerry Orr.

"I have been critical of the performance of the TSA since its inception. I am not critical of its mission. I am critical of its measures," says Orr.

Billions and billions of dollars have been spent to make airports safer, but at Tuesday's Congressional hearing the wrap came off.

Since November 2001 - when the government took over security screening - there have been more than 25,000 security breaches at U.S. airports.  That averages out to slightly more than 5 security breaches a year at each of the nation's 457 commercial airports.

Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz who led the inquiry says it's clear the airports are not secure.

Despite passengers being asked to dump all their liquids, take off their shoes and even remove their prosthetic breast.

"We will look at the information. We will investigate. We will protect the taxpayer who are paying the bulk of the expenses for the fiasco," said Representative John Mica of Florida.

The TSA says it's employing the latest technology and training.  Though 25,000 security breaches in 10 years may sound high the agency says the number is a tiny fraction of one percent of the more than 5.5 billion travelers screened since 9/11.

Security expert de la Guerra says safety is a progressive thing.

"Are we safer today with the technologies we have now?  With the training we have now compared to ten years ago?  Yes we are.  However remember when we're on this side of the world making counter measures bad guys are on the other side of the world making counter measures to what we're doing."

The latest terror threat - "belly bombs."  al Qaeda is reportedly working on surgically implanting bombs in human beings.

The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a bulletin warning of renewed interest in the tactic.

Many are asking if our enemies are that determined is there anything that can be done to stop them?

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