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Tue, Oct 28, 2003

USA: Not the Only Country With Spotty Airport Security

Italians Got Recent Wakeup Call

The Boston Globe is reporting that an Italian newspaper got hold of a leak, and ran with it.

Apparently, official airport inspector-types filed their report about their own recent attempts to carry "bombs" aboard passenger planes.

Larry Habegger and James O'Reilly of the paper say that they "passed undetected through security in Bergamo, Catania, Milan, Palermo, and Rome."

The Italian equivalent of the TSA says procedures have been changed since the successful breaches. When did the breaches take place? They're not saying. What changes have been implemented? They're not saying. Were the procedures used by the "bombers" identical at all the airports [in other words, is there 'one level of security' at Italian airports]? They're not saying.

ANN called the TSA to see how well our own system of security is doing.

Darrin Kayser at the TSA told us how the US does it: "Our red teams do that," he said. "We don't release publicly what their rate is." He assured me, though, "We have a very robust process. When we do get through, we immediately show our screeners what we did, and what they need to do to make sure it doesn't happen again." The 'retraining' is quick: "The key is the 'immediate' debrief."

Compared to the FAA's old way of doing things, he said,

"We've done 901 tests (733 at checkpoints, 168 in checked baggage)," Darrin noted. "The FAA did 1754 in 9 years; we've done 901 in a little less than a year." The comparisons of the numbers of test, he explained, were 'apples to apples,' in that the scope and breadth were approximately the same. "All airports," he noted, "will be tested over our first 3 years. That three years started in September 2002. Mr. Kayser noted, "Screener checkpoint pass rates have improved 10% between Sept 2002 and the end of August 2003."

They're not perfect, though. "Our Red Teams are very professional, and know what teh screeners are expected to do, and how the process works. Our goal is not to have 100% scores for our screeners. If we did, our Red Teams wouldn't be doing their jobs," he said. "Now, we have a 'system of systems.' Before that, we had pretty much just the checkpoints."



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