The TSA series: Agony at the Airport

Thursday, December 23, 2010; 6:22 PM

The United States created the Transportation Security Administration in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to improve security for travelers.

Billions of dollars later, the changes are most apparent at airports. Passengers walk a gantlet of surveillance: They surrender sharp objects and slip off their shoes.

They submit to revealing body scans or intrusive pat-downs. Canine units sniff for explosives, and plainclothes officers watch the unaware. This occasional series from The Washington Post examines the new world of travel security.

Despite the changes, transportation experts, government auditors and lawmakers question the effectiveness of some specific methods and say vulnerabilities in the system still put travelers at risk.

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