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Patchy Staff Screening Poses Security Risk to Nation’s Airports

Only facilities at Orlando, Miami and Atlanta screen 100 percent of their staff, with the rest of America’s airports employing random checks, says a government report.

The nation’s airports are at risk from “insider threats” posed by so-called “lone wolf” attackers, states a report issued by the House Homeland Security Committee.

The report examined staff security screening procedures at facilities across the country and revealed that almost 900,000 airport employees are able to circumvent regular checks. The document also reveals that only Miami, Orlando and Atlanta airports check all employees before they enter secure areas.

The report highlighted the fact that, by and large, screening procedures at airports around the country are inconsistent. Outside of the aforementioned facilities at Miami, Orlando and Atlanta, a wide cross-section of America’s airports only employ random checks to vet their employees. This, the committee feels, is a point that could leave these facilities open to attack.

The report, as quoted by ABC News, states that, “America’s airports and aircraft remain vulnerable to attack and exploitation by nefarious individuals. Current security standards would likely fail to prevent a determined adversary with insider access from causing harm to an airport or aircraft.”

Over the last ten years, the outlet reports, a number of airport workers with access to secure areas have been linked to groups like ISIS and al-Shabaab.

In order to neutralize the risk of an internal security threat, the document says that airports should “examine costs and feasibility of expanding physical screening.” This would include continuous background checks, the collection of biometric data and even the ability to deactivate employee badges as and when needed.

Finally, the committee’s report concludes that “industry infighting, jurisdictional battles, inconvenience, and cost concerns are not justifiable reasons to cause delays to enhancing the security of the American homeland and our aviation system.”

For its part, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) welcomed the findings, saying, “TSA appreciates the House Homeland Security Committee’s efforts to help secure America’s airports.”

“We are reviewing the report and will continue to work with the committee as well as our industry, intelligence community, and law enforcement partners to ensure all modes of transportation remain secure,” the agency stated.

Comments are Closed.
sleuth February 10, 2017

Indeed KT. And I've seen it first hand in Atlanta. The KCM lane is located on the north side security entrance (AA side). I've stood in the pre-check line and watched crew in and out of uniform breeze right through with no security check at all. So, Atlanta does not do 100% screening of employees.

kt0306 February 8, 2017

I've actually said for a while that the biggest threat to aviation safety is the Known Crew member Access system where its a straight shot through with no luggage or personal scan. Hope I'm wrong - as I'm traveling most weeks