TSA announced this morning that it has deployed new explosive detection trace portal machines at Washington National and Dulles airports:
“The trace portal is a sophisticated tool that allows us to detect a broad range of explosive materials quickly and efficiently,” said Pat Hynes, TSA’s Federal Security Director at DCA. “This new technology, along with enhanced training for our security officers and new checkpoint procedures, ensure we have a robust system in place to address the serious threat of explosives.”
I went through one of these new machines for the first time a couple of months ago. They’re a bit slow, but a definite improvement from a security standpoint on the method where TSA swabs your carry-on bags and runs the sample through the machine. However, TSA needs to work on the way that it selects people for multiple screening lanes, and ensure that potential terrorists can’t self-select to a lane that doesn’t have walk-through trace detection. In my aforementioned experience, that was not the case; after the ID check, people chose freely between the lane with the trace machine and the two lanes without one.