PHOTO: Can airport security be improved? (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
Since 9/11, threats against aviation security have been in the back of the mind of many airline passengers, the Department of Homeland Security, and even the Pentagon. Many people believe that the only way to keep the check-in areas safe is to only allow those who are actually flying to enter the building. A problem with that, however, is that airlines still allow passengers to bring guns and even crossbows as checked luggage items, so those items would still be entering the building. Some suggest checking passengers tickets before they enter the terminal, but that would require massive infrastructure changes at every passenger airport. Even if passenger check-in and security screening areas were moved completely offsite and passengers were shuttled to the airport via bus or train, those check-in facilities would become potential targets themselves.
I do not think terminal access should be limited, because at what point do you draw that line? he said. “People want to greet and say goodbye to their loved ones. People conduct business at pre-security bars and eateries. I would consider that excessive. What about having military-style security at airports, as we see in many other countries? Could it be an effective visual deterrent if soldiers wielded machine guns around every turn?
I think that a military presence can have an effect on those who would wish to do harm before security, said Derner. This is not an aviation issue as much as it is that there are people who are targeting where groups congregate in public, so an armed presence would certainly create a variable that would make it that much more difficult for them to go about their awful plan. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is our country s front line defense against all threats brought upon commercial aviation. Many would argue their effectiveness. After all, the 9/11 hijackings were carried out with knives and box cutter blades, not guns.
But each month, the TSA publishes a review of everything they have confiscated at security checkpoints, in an effort to say, See, we are saving lives! We re stopping terrorism! In a way, yes that s possibly true. In 2016, TSA confiscated 2,815 loaded guns at airport security checkpoints, and nearly 3,400 guns in total. Sure, one could argue that all of these gun owners forgot they were carrying a weapon. In hindsight, one can t afford not to ask, What if? In 2016, terrorists were able to successfully carry out attacks at airports in Istanbul, Brussels, Moscow, Karachi, Kandahar, and Mogadishu, taking the lives of nearly 200 people, as well as causing several hundred injuries. Even here in the US at New York s JFK Airport, on August 15th of last year, a mass evacuation of the terminals was prompted, which was later attributed to people clapping loudly while watching an athletic event on TV at a bar. In this situation, the terrorists win. They did nothing, yet their goal of inciting fear was successful without even having to try.
As long as terrorists influence the way we go about our lives, they win. That s their goal, to intimidate us to the point at which we are scared to travel by air.
So, how can airport security be improved? There really isn t a perfect answer.
The majority of airports in the US do not have full employee screening at secure access points, resulting a serious insider threat to airport security. Furthermore, they are unable to demonstrate the security effectiveness of their existing employee screening efforts, which consist largely of randomized screening by Transportation Security Administration [TSA] officers or airport law enforcement personnel, warns the House Committee on Homeland Security Majority Staff in its new report, America s Airports: The Threat From Within.
The report stated that access controls, the capabilities and systems in place to safeguard access to sensitive areas and the means by which employees are screened at airports were shown to be a source of vulnerability to securing the aviation sector.
The report noted that already in 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General revealed that 73 aviation workers with links to terrorism were either currently or recently employed at airports across the United States with access to secure and sterile areas, and that, subsequent oversight efforts revealed that while TSA reviewed each individual and determined whether they were a threat to aviation security, the agency had missed terrorist ties due to a lack of access to certain data sets held by other entities within the US Government.
Despite longstanding efforts to be granted access to additional intelligence databases, DHS and TSA were met with resistance and delay by other federal agencies.
The report disclosed that the TSA was finally granted additional access to information but that some officials within TSA have admitted that more is needed in order to provide sufficiently robust vetting to aviation workers , according to hstoday.us.
The report pointed out that of the approximately 900,000 people who work at the 450 airports in the United States under federal supervision and control, many are able to bypass traditional screening requirements that travelers visiting the airports must endure. While the overwhelming majority of these airport workers take the inherent responsibility seriously, there are increasing concerns that insider threats to aviation security are on the rise.
Updated: Feb 17, 2017 – 5:29 PM
Washington driver s licenses are getting an upgrade, but they still won’t help you get through the airport. The state is rolling out new licenses this summer with enhanced security features to protect against identity theft.
Your current license is still valid, but you’ll start seeing the new ones when it s time to renew. Despite the changes, Washington s standards licenses are still not in compliance with the Federal REAL ID Act, which means the new licenses won’t work at TSA checkpoints starting in 2018.
Washington s enhanced drivers licenses are approved for the Transportation Security Administration. Eventually, Washington residents who only have standard licenses will need additional ID in order to board commercial aircraft. Unless lawmakers pass a law that puts the state in compliance or gets an extension from the government, Washington residents will need additional identification to board commercial flights starting on Jan. 22, 2018. Washington is the only state in the country that does not require proof of legal presence in the U.S. to get a standard state driver’s license or ID.
Washington State Department of Licensing said its newly designed driver licenses and ID cards are aimed at better protecting residents from identity theft.
The state will rollout the new cards over the next several months, beginning at its licensing office in Shelton. Sometime this summer, the rollout will have been extended to all 56 offices.
2017 Cox Media Group.