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"Airport security directors criticize TSA, offer Congress recommendations"
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Airport security directors criticize TSA, offer Congress recommendations
'TSA is inefficient, inflexible, abusive of its power, and lacks separation
By Leischen Stelter
Security Director News
WASHINGTON-The Transportation Security Administration is inefficient,
inflexible, abusive of its power, and lacks separation of power, Jerry Orr,
aviation director for Charlotte Douglas International Airport, told House
members on July 13 during a hearing on airport perimeter security.
"With these shortcomings, achieving security can be lost in the shuffle,"
said Orr, in written transcripts of his testimony. "Security needs are
dynamic and a security organization needs to be similarly flexible."
The U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Government Reform's
Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations
heard from Orr and several other aviation experts about the state of
Leading up to the hearing, the Department of Homeland Security released
documents revealing that there have been more than 25,000 security breaches
at U.S. airports since November 2001, reported USA Today. One of the most
prominent breaches resulted in the death of Delvonte Tisdale, a 16-year-old
boy who stowed away in the wheel well of a 737 plane in Charlotte Douglas
Airport and likely froze to death before his body fell out of the plane near
While Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the committee, insisted this
was not a "blame session", Orr was defensive about the incident, which he
said "unfairly tarnished the reputation of the organization." Orr has been
openly critical of the TSA and told the committee that the agency was
unresponsive and failed to communicate following this incident. "The TSA is
so focused on protocols that they often lose sight of what is reasonable or
even necessary. There is a tremendous emphasis on doing it the same way
every time everywhere," he said.
Orr said he would like to see Congress redirect airport security funding
away from TSA and redirect it instead to airports. "Every airport is
different in many ways: location, geography, numbers of passengers departing
or just passing through, etc. Each airport operator is intimately familiar
with its vulnerabilities as well as its strengths and can therefore make
effective enhancements and improvements," he said.
"Security is a burdensome necessity in today's world. There is no question
about that," Orr testified. "But our efforts and expenditures should be
designed to leverage people and expenditures in other areas.
The former director of security at Tel-Aviv Ben-Gurion International Airport
in Israel also offered testimony about the state of aviation security in the
United States. Rafi Ron, who is now the president of consulting firm New-Age
Security Solutions, told House subcommittee members that the government must
ask itself: What airport security investments will pay the highest
dividends? Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the government has
spent a lot of money and attention on securing its airports and today
airports are much harder targets for terrorists to exploit, Ron said.
However, threats remain prominent and must be addressed. To do so, Ron
recommended a more comprehensive and balanced approach to aviation security.
One of the most significant obstacles is jurisdictional issues among
federal, state and local authorities. "While screening is carried out and
fully funded by the TSA, other security measures at the airport are not," he
said. "Airport facility security is performed and funded mostly by state and
or local authorities." This jurisdictional conflict means that "no one
person at the airport is in charge of security," he said.
The government must focus on other layers of security other than passenger
screening, such as perimeter protection, access control, and terminal
security. "As it stands today, the vast majority of commercial airports in
this country, including some of the high-profile airports, do not have the
capabilities to detect and prevent an intruder from entering the airside of
the airport through the fence or an adjacent waterfront," Ron said.
Ron said there is a lack of a comprehensive approach to airport security and
a lack of clear standards for airport operators. He recommends the TSA
develop a comprehensive, integrated airport security model that includes the
design of technical systems, operational elements, and human resources
factors. He also said the government should establish incentives and avenues
for each airport to create a clear, integrated, and harmonized
Airport Security before 9/11
Former Massport Director Virginia Buckingham: My side of the story (2002)
New Massport chief promises change (2002)
No Federal Security Director yet for Logan (2002)
Regulatory Compliance and Airport Competition
Massport wants out of 9/11 lawsuit
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