As CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reports, those security failures have changed the way we fly and the way we live. The government has been pressing the nation's high-tech industry for state-of-the-art answers. And slowly—too slowly for some critics—the results can be seen around the country.
It's called "the Puffer." Michael Jackson — the number two man at the Department of Homeland Security — says it's the newest passenger screening machine, but not the only change.
"It takes about 16 seconds, and its looking for trace material of explosive material that may be on a person's body," Jackson says. "After 2001, we basically replaced every X-ray machine and all the equipment you see here today."
Since New Year's Day 2003, all checked bags — more than a billion a year — have been scanned by explosives detectors. And airport screeners have been re-schooled.
"A year ago, we put basically everyone through an updated training session on how to find explosives, looking at liquids, looking at disassembled bomb parts," Jackson says. "This is a tremendously different and robust work force than we had before."
Jackson says that while all this technology can be used at border crossings and ports, trains and subway systems remain a challenge.
"There is no single technology that draws a shield around a large subway system," he says. "It's a combination of things: intelligence, training, tools that work together. We have to stay one step ahead of the bad guys."
To do that, tomorrow's security is being developed at companies like AS&E Electronics outside Boston. Joe Reiss is the marketing director here. The so-called "backscatter technology" he's talking about involves bombarding bags — even passengers — with a more revealing type of X-ray. Backscatter can also be used at ports and border crossings to more precisely examine the contents of large trucks and containers.