Agents Discover Frightfully
BAD US Airport Security
Yahoo News

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Government agents working undercover. Bad guys duped. It had all the elements of an FBI sting operation. But it was just a report released Thursday by the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
The "bad guys" were merely hapless aviation officials, airport security managers and airline staff, whose only "evil" was that their job performance was found lacking.
The DOT report, blandly entitled "Airport Access Control," deals an embarrassing blow to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and to several major US airports by describing the ease with which undercover investigators got past security checks and boarded planes without tickets.
"During our testing, we successfully penetrated secure areas," says the inspector general's report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP. "In some instances, we were seated and ready for departure at the time we concluded our tests."
Inspectors slipped by undetected "by piggybacking (following) employees through doors; riding unguarded elevators; walking through concourse doors, gates and jetbridges; walking through cargo facilities unchallenged; and driving through unmanned vehicle gates," the report continues.
"After penetrating secure areas, we boarded a substantial number of aircraft operated by US and foreign air carriers."
Out of 173 attempts, the ticketless inspectors actually boarded planes undiscovered 117 times. Among the planes they boarded, 35 different airlines are represented, including both US and non-US firms.
In 43 cases, there were no personnel at the gate when inspectors boarded. In 43 other cases, personnel were there but the inspectors were able to go aboard without being noticed. In 13 cases, they were caught, but only after three minutes or more had passed. And in only 18 cases were they caught immediately.
According to the Washington Post, which broke the story in its Thursday edition, some of the United States' biggest and airports were among the ones found lacking in their security procedures.
New York's John F. Kennedy airport was one. Washington's Reagan National Airport was another. Others included Chicago's O'Hare airport, as well as airports in Miami, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Honolulu.
FAA spokeswoman Rebecca Trexler said Thursday that the FAA had conducted its own tests after reviewing the report, and had already compelled airlines and airport authorities to eliminate the problems identified.
But she added: "The challenge now for us and the industry is to maintain this high level of attention. It is very difficult because it's all human factors," she said.
Indeed, perhaps the "good guys" in this story do, after all, hail from the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
When Mary Schiavo, a former DOT inspector general, was asked Thursday morning by ABC why there haven't been more terrorist incidents in the United States, given the apparent lack of security at airports, she gave credit to those agents so notorious for their black suits and dark sunglasses ... at least in the movies.
"You have to give credit not to the FAA but to the FBI ... Fortunately, we have a good intelligence network through the FBI and they are really the ones that we can thank for a lot of the security we enjoy," she said.
Copyright © 1994-99 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.


This Site Served by TheHostPros