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"Airport Security Before 9/11"
Monday, May 19, 2003
Target 2 Investigation
Airport Security Before 9/11
By Natalie Arnold
The federal government is finally acknowledging security problems at our
local airports before September 11th. Target 2 wanted the information back
in September, 2001, just weeks after the terrorist attacks, but the
government didn't give us the details until now-- almost two years later.
And the facts that were revealed are eye-opening.
The government released about 60 pages' worth of problems at Austin Straubel
airport in Ashwaubenon and the Outagamie County Regional Airport in
Greenville. The problems range from letting an undercover agent past
checkpoint security with a weapon to allowing other undercover agents to
wander around, even in the planes.
We begin with a look at the Outagamie County airport.
The security checkpoint is considered the last line of defense in the war
against terrorism in the air. Past this point there is little turning back.
On September 27, 2001-- sixteen days after the terrorist attacks in New York
and the Pentagon-- Target 2 wanted to know just how strong our defenses
were. About two years later we are getting the answers.
Debra Giuffre was in charge at the Outagamie County airport before 9/11. "I
think they thought some of the measures that were over the top," she says,
referring to workers and tenants at the airport.
Jeff Mulder is airport director now, but he was with the airport before
9/11. "I think part of the challenge after September 11th was getting them
to see the big picture. They didn't understand why do we have security
measures in place in aviation."
Security measures like attending doors-- and opening eyes. When Target 2
looked at the government information, we found that did not always happen.
Spanning 1998 to 2000 at Outagamie County, during checks by the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA), there were at least seven cases of unsecured
or unattended doors. Undercover agents slipped through-- walked unchecked.
In one situation, a worker opened the door, allowing him near the planes.
One agent even boarded a plane sitting empty on the ramp.
In March of 1999, an agent got past the metal detector and a worker with a
handwand with a weapon strapped to her ankle.
All of this was before 9/11. John Carlson is a deputy director of security
with the Transportation Security Administration, the so-called new sheriff
in town. Last year, TSA took over checkpoint security. It also set up an
office at Outagamie County airport to work closely with the director and his
With the help of a communications director during our interview, Carlson
told Target 2 that what happened here prior to 9/11 is less likely to happen
"Well, if we're doing our job correctly, then that won't happen, and that's
part of our presence here," Carlson said.
And since 9/11, there have not been violations in security like these. But
you should also know there haven't been any formal inspections at the
airport since then.
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