FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2007
Schumer Reveals Gaping Hole In Airport Security: Even Though Passengers Have To Be Screened Head To Toe, Airport Personnel Can Come And Go Without Being Checked
Schumer Announces New Comprehensive Legislation to Require All Airport Employees Be Screened Before Entering Secure Areas
Terrorists with Phony ID Could Easily Sneak in to Aircraft and Baggage Areas
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed that employees at airports in New York and across the country can easily access secure areas at our nation's airports, such as the tarmac where planes are held and baggage areas, without being screened for weapons or banned materials. Schumer said that since DHS has yet to mandate a tamperproof identification card for all airport workers, a terrorist could also easily use a fake ID and enter these supposedly secure areas. Schumer's today announced new legislation that would require all airport employees across the country with access to a secure area of an airport be screened through a metal detector before their first shift.
"While passengers are being screened head to toe, the secure areas of our airports have been left wide open," Schumer said. "At airports across the country, we aren't doing nearly enough to prevent someone who wants to do harm from boarding a plane or hiding in checked bags and we've got to step it up, now. Right now, a terrorist could easily enter one of these secure areas with a weapon or a bomb and no one would even bat an eye. My legislation would close this gaping hole once and for all."
Schumer cited an incident at Orlando International Airport last month when two Comair employees used their work uniforms and identification badges to gain access to restricted areas and smuggle in a bag filled with 13 handguns, an assault rifle, and marijuana. One of the employees then removed the bag from the secure area and brought it on to a Delta flight to Puerto Rico. Authorities only recovered the bag after the plane landed in San Juan. Schumer said that had the two employees been terrorists they could have easily used the weapons to hijack the plane.
Right now, TSA relies on background checks at the time of hiring and random checks to ensure that airport employees are who they say they are and do not bring dangerous items in to secure areas.
Schumer's legislation would require every airport across the country to screen all employees with access to the secure area of an airport when arriving for shifts. The screening would be conducted under the same standards as apply to passengers at airport security screening checkpoints. Within six months, all large hubs must submit a plan to TSA for full screening to be approved and enacted within 60 days following that. All airports, large and small, would need to have an employee screening system up and running by 2010.