Yesterday, the Majority Staff of the House Homeland Security Committee released a new report entitled, “America’s Airports: The Threat From Within.”
This report is the result of a 2-year long investigation conducted by Chairman John Katko (R-NY)’s Transportation and Protective Security Subcommittee.
Key Findings of the Report Include:
- Inconsistencies exist across the aviation system related to how airport and air carrier security officials educate their credentialed populations on responsibly using their access and reporting suspicious activities.
- Conflict between industry and government stakeholders often impedes needed improvements to aviation security.
- After nearly two years of oversight efforts, the Subcommittee found that a majority of airports do not have full employee screening at secure access points. These airports are unable to demonstrate the security effectiveness of their existing employee screening efforts, which consist largely of randomized screening by TSA officers or airport law enforcement personnel.
- Recent insider threat examples discussed in this report include an attempt to detonate a bomb at an airport, gun and drug smuggling, an expressed willingness to smuggle explosives, as well as employees who became involved in terrorist activities overseas.
“America’s aviation sector remains a crown jewel of ISIS and other terrorist groups targeting our homeland,” said Committee Chairman Michael McCaul.
“As they continue to plot against us, we must be ready to confront them at every turn. I commend Rep. John Katko’s leadership on this important national security issue and specifically the subcommittee’s hard work assessing the vulnerabilities facing our aviation sector from within.”
At a time when we face increased threats from homegrown radicalization and lone-wolf terrorism, we must ensure that our airport access controls are strong and that we are doing all we can to mitigate the insider threat to aviation security,” commented Chairman Katko.
“The recommendations outlined in this report, along with the requirements of the Aviation Employee Screening and Security Enhancement Act of 2017, which I introduced today, will serve as a roadmap for TSA, airports, and air carriers to close security vulnerabilities at our nation’s airports.”
“Our nation’s aviation system is interconnected, and we are only as secure as our least secure airport.”
(From Jul 6, 2016, following the Orlando Terror Attack – ISIS Targets US Airports and other soft targets in Terror Threats interview with Scott Mann. Courtesy of ABC News, TopGunMilitary and YouTube)
In response to the House Homeland Security Committee Report, Dan Gelston, President of Smiths Detection (SDI), has issued the following statement:
This statement includes an announcement of a pilot project with Miami International Airport on a first-of-its-kind airport employee screening project.
“This report provides further evidence for what experts have known for a long time, that despite employee background checks and access control measures at airports, the ‘insider threat’ remains one of the greatest threats to aviation.”
“As a result, technology solutions must play a key role in addressing this issue. We commend U.S. Representative John Katko (NY-24), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Transportation and Protective Security Subcommittee, for releasing this important report.
“The report makes clear that only a two-pronged approach to combating the ‘insider threat’ at airports – namely relying on people (background checks) and process (access control) — is leaving a dangerous gap in efforts to mitigate the threat.”
“A truly comprehensive approach to preventing criminal and terrorist acts in airports must include threat detection technology solutions with multi-view X-ray and Explosives Trace Detection (ETD), paralleling those seen at passenger checkpoints around the world.”
(Learn More about Advanced Integrated Checkpoint Security Solutions by Smiths Detection. Courtesy of SDI and YouTube)
“Such non-intrusive screening technologies assure greater security without sacrificing speed, accuracy or efficiencies.
“The report also correctly notes that targeted screening, which relies on the right technology solutions with portable capabilities, offers airport operators increased visibility into threats in their facilities. Furthermore, it provides effective deterrence while supporting continued operational efficiency and minimizing costs.
“With over 40 years’ experience, Smiths Detection has insight into the security challenges of regulators, airlines and airport professionals and has helped them to prevent explosives, chemical weapons, guns and other contraband from getting onto airplanes and crossing borders.”
“We look forward to using that experience to work with Congress and airport operators to help them make the critical security improvements called for in this report.”
Miami International Airport Employee Screening Pilot Project
Most recently, in a focused effort to assist U.S. airport operators with the myriad complexities associated with employee screening, SDI has partnered with Miami International Airport in a first-of-its-kind employee screening pilot project.
The MIA pilot, launched in January of this year, deploys SDI’s latest capabilities in multi-view x-ray and explosive trace detection equipment placed in one of MIA’s industry-leading employee checkpoints.
The pilot is designed to help develop a replicable concept of operations and demonstrate high-accuracy threat detection coupled with fast and efficient movement of employees through the screening experience.
“Over a decade ago, MIA made the commitment voluntarily to invest in employee screening absent any federal requirements because we felt it was the right thing to do,” said Emilio T. González, Miami-Dade Aviation Director.
“We have renewed our commitment to this important component of airport crime-fighting and anti-terrorism by partnering with SDI in an effort to again raise the bar and demonstrate the art of the possible.”
Smiths Detection, is a global leader in threat detection and screening technologies for military, transportation, homeland security and emergency response markets with unrivalled levels of expertise to detect & identify constantly changing chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats, as well as weapons, contraband and narcotics.