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"Canadian airport intelligence not shared, says agency"
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Airport intelligence not shared, says agency
CaNADA - The Vancouver Sun
OTTAWA --The security intelligence essential for the safe operation of
Canadian airports is not adequately shared with airport security officials,
says the federal agency responsible for front-line aviation security.
The complaint by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority is supported
by several airport authorities, who say they, too, have not been
sufficiently informed by senior levels of government, police and security
services of "critical incidents" affecting their operations.
Their concerns are revealed in a Transport Canada report by an independent
advisory panel of security and airport experts that conducted a mandatory
five-year legislative review of CATSA, established in the wake of the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Crown corporation's primary duties include
pre-board screening of passengers and their belongings and the acquisition,
deployment, operation and maintenance of explosives-detection systems at
"CATSA has made clear a degree of dissatisfaction with its access to
intelligence that it considers essential to its operations," says the
CATSA's complaint appears directly aimed at its parent department --
Transport Canada. The department works with intelligence agencies, including
the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, to provide
intelligence information to CATSA, airport authorities and air carriers.
Both organizations declined to comment yesterday. CATSA referred questions
about its intelligence-sharing complaint to the office of Transport Minister
Lawrence Cannon, who tabled the document in the House of Commons days before
Christmas. A Transport spokesman said the department could not comment
because the complaint was CATSA's to explain.
But the issue extends beyond CATSA, according to the report. "The panel
heard complaints from several airports that they had not been informed of
critical incidents directly affecting their operations."
Senator Colin Kenny, chairman of the Senate's national security and defence
committee, said he has heard the same concerns and infighting over aviation
"Transport Canada consistently mismanages airports when it comes to
security," he said yesterday.
While the report recommends responsibility for aviation safety remain with
Transport Canada, Kenny said it should be handed to Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness Canada. As the lead federal department for public
safety, it oversees the RCMP "who are pretty capable of these things and
have a better understanding of sharing information."
The Transport Canada report raises several security concerns, including:
- Many of the 4,300 CATSA security screeners at 89 airports hold second
jobs, particularly at larger airports where almost half have second or even
- The largely non-existent security screening for charter and corporate
flights at airports. Terrorists, the report says, "could use such aircraft
as suicide weapons, or for dispersal of chemical/biological weapons."
- Airport terminals themselves have become an emerging danger for
travellers. The report raises the scenario of terrorists deliberately
causing a minor security breach in secure, pre-boarding waiting area.
- Air cargo operations continue to present a major security gap. About 70
per cent of all air cargo, including mail, is carried on passenger flights
and goes onto the planes largely unscreened.
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