I’ve often stated — as have many — that all the stringent and invasive procedures being used by TSA at airports are more of a smokescreen for the benefit of public imagery, to give people a false sense of security. Meanwhile, what’s going on behind and under the scenes is about as secure as a paper padlock.
Sophisticated terrorists, such as the al Qaeda variety, go through a great deal of planning before they carry out an attack. They know the security systems in airports and on planes better than the TSA. While Grandma Moses and Pastor Jeb Smith are being manhandled and X-rayed at the gate, loading and catering procedures are far from secure. It would only take one explosive device inside a suitcase in the belly of a plan, with a cell phone wired to the detonator, to bring down an aircraft remotely.
And even if some baggage is screened, one corrupt handler, or caterer, could plant a weapon. The Achilles Heel in airline security, is with the caterers and baggage handlers. TSA certainly knows that. The pilots know it better than anyone. I’m sure, if you polled any pilots and flight attendants you know, they’d tell you the same — maybe. (“Shh – don’t ever say I told you this.”)
That’s why one 50 year-old career pilot recently used his cell phone to video all the areas aircraft security that is at risk at the airport in San Francisco, and posted it on YouTube as an expose’. For his actions, the pilot is being punished by the government. Federal authorities, including four U.S. Marshals, came to his house the next day and relieved him of his firearm and his weapons permit. (??) And while the video was pulled from YouTube, the pilot — who prefers to remain anonymous — had released it to ABC News. The following links provide an article and a Video news report:
Now the video, via ABC News:
Truth is, the government is trying to make us all think that security is at maximum because of the advanced machinery being used. While we might be intercepting threats at the gate, criminals and terrorists have opportunities to come through the back door unnoticed. Sushant Deb and Igor Livits, aviation security consultants, recently posted an article in which they say, “Airport attacks underscore the fact that weak areas can be exploited by terrorists. Unfortunately, it appears that human factors of safety and security are being seriously overlooked due to over-reliance on technology.”
One news commentator criticized the pilot for the stealth manner in which he took the videos and then for posting them on YouTube. She said the pilot should have turned his information over to the TSA, and not on-line for the world to see. That would be going by the book. But, I’ll bet the pilot had already tried that — likely more than once — and got nowhere. Ergo, his desperate measure to expose the dangers when nothing else worked.
There’s two ways that the feds could have handled this pilot. One, would be to acknowledge that there are always ways to improve on the state of airport security, or the other to dispatch six law enforcement agents out to his house like a posse as though he was a criminal and remove his concealed weapon permit. They chose the latter. Anyone surprised?
Then, of course, we don’t know much about the standards and screening being applied in the hiring process of those faceless handlers who have access to the bellies of our airplanes. Go to Google and type in “Airport Baggage Handler Arrest,” and see how often these folks are being caught committing crimes. That will provide a small indication of the vulnerable nature of the security through baggage handlers. It’s downright scary. Here’s a couple samples:
Remember, these are the ones who have been caught…and many more.
We should be following the example of El Al Airlines/ Ben Gurion Airport systems.
* Thoroughly screen every employee who works with baggage and catering.
* Profile and interrogate
* Deploy an armed Air Marshal on every flight.
No, I’m no holding my breath.
Here’s one more piece from Seattle Times, in which another anonymous pilot shares his fears about slack security with baggage handlers:
Also, check out this story, video speaks for itself: