The Transportation Security Administration spent $160 million on airport body scanners that have failed to detect security threats and have frustrated passengers, leading to scrutiny by lawmakers.
Out of the $160 million spent on body scanners, $120 million was spent on machines that are still used at airports across the country, Politico
The remaining $40 million was spent on the "naked" X-ray machines
, which the TSA removed from airports in May 2013 after passengers were outraged over alleged privacy violations. They were also concerned about the possible health risks associated with the machines.
The scanners costed more than $150,000 each, on average, since the TSA bought the first 45 scanners in 2008, according to numbers the TSA recently gave to lawmakers.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson reassigned the acting TSA administrator in June after it was reported that TSA screeners failed 95 percent of the time
to detect mock explosives and weapons that undercover agents tried to get through security.
Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson says that the machines should be backed up with metal detectors, after learning that the current machines "weren't even catching metal." The body scanners use a radio frequency to detect anything unusual on a person's body.
"If you really want to keep using those, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t, at a minimum we should put a metal detector on the other side," the Wisconsin Republican told Politico. "Why not go through two? You’ve just gotta use common sense."
The TSA and L-3 Communications, the company that supplies a majority of the scanners, have said that it is trying to solve the failures with software patches and additional training, as well as other changes that should help the machines perform better. But several lawmakers remain doubtful that a software patch will make much of a difference.
According to House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul, the scanners made by L-3 were the ones named in the investigation that were "a big part of the problem."
McCaul also noted that the accuracy guarantee given by L-3 is far below 100 percent.
While the TSA said that it is not able to reveal everything it is doing to improve security measures, the agency told Politico that it is working on "screening effectiveness, including new training for all TSA officers, improvements in alarm resolution procedures, and, in partnership with private sector partners, a range of measures to increase detection standards of our screening equipment."
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