How Secure are the Nation's Airports? Congress Wants to Know

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security had a question about airports this week, as quoted by the Miami Herald: “There is no such thing as 100%, secure,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) “but a teenage boy ought to not be able to get through [an airport’s perimeter].”

The TSA’s Problem with Children

The Teen Stowaway

Yet authorities believe that’s exactly happened back in November of 2010 when 16 year old Delvonte Tisdale breached security at Charlotte International, got into the wheel well of a jetliner there before ultimately falling from the plane as it neared Boston.

Federal Hearing on TSA Security Breaches

According to media reports, the hearing was held for a “better understanding of whether recent reports of security breaches and unauthorized access to tarmacs were anomalies or systemic failures”. Most of those breaches were detailed in a report by the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general outlining security breaches at six airports.

TSA: Weapons Found in Toys and a Walker

At Newark’s airport, for example, CNN noted the report cited such incidents as a knife bypassing TSA screening, passengers going around security checkpoints and even “a dead dog transported without being screened for explosives.”

Security Problems in Need of a Fix

The report noted that the TSA took corrective action to fix these problems in only 42% of the Newark incidents. Most of these breaches mentioned occurred in 2010, and the report did point out that corrective action has improved since then.

TSA Security Lapses at Newark

The TSA acknowledged the problems; as TSA chief John Pistole wrote in a statement, the agency “can further develop and expand its oversight programs for gathering and tracking airport security breaches.”

Most of these breaches mentioned in the inspector general’s report occurred in 2010, and the report pointed out that corrective action has improved since then. Not enough for many legislators though. As one member of Congress was quoted as saying about the case of the Charlotte stowaway, “We still don’t know how that issue has been fixed or how it occurred.” Rep. Rogers, meanwhile, says expect more hearings on perimeter security issues.

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Published: May 17, 2012