Aviation Terrorism: New Investigation Identifies Unnerving ‘Gaps’ In Airport Security Protocol

Security officials in the United States have identified unnerving gaps in modern airport security protocol in an attempt to investigate the apparent failures and vulnerabilities that might instigate an aviation-related terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Experts have long argued that some of the most common airport security lapses may be related to a manifest lack of screening for “airport staff” employed in considerable numbers. These workers are periodically granted unrestricted access to highly sensitive and secured areas.

A recent investigation conducted by the American Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has observed perturbing security lapses at many U.S. airports, where “undercover investigators” were able to successfully undermine most of the industriously enforced security protocols while in possession of fake explosives as well as prohibited weapons.

Despite new recommendations announced back in April, U.S. security experts have speculated whether or not airport security measures currently in place may be entirely resistant to potentially dangerous last-minute security failures. Proposed measures included heightened random, “on-the-spot” screening of airport workers, restricted access to designated sensitive zones as well as an unmitigated enhancement of existing protocols. Many experts also view the “insider-assisted” aspect of a terrorist plot as indicative of a looming prospect that can hardly be convincingly ruled out.

The suspected bombing of a recent Russian airliner over Egypt has reignited concerns about potential terrorist infiltration of world airports in general and U.S. airports in particular. A spokesman for the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has already confirmed that security measures have been beefed up throughout the country for all U.S.-bound international flights, most particularly so in the wake of the Egyptian crash.

According to security expert Bruce Schneier, a combination of factors can trigger a potential security lapse at airports.

“Security screening is an incredibly boring job, and almost all alerts are false alarms. It’s very hard for people to remain vigilant in this sort of situation, and sloppiness is inevitable.”

Airport Security personnel employ enormously stringent measures to detect, terminate, and handle potential security situations arising at designated checkpoints. Passengers can be intermittently interrogated and subjected to a host of random screening procedures. However, these measures are employed more observantly for the monitoring of passengers. By contrast, thousands of airport workers may have access to highly sensitive routes as well as many entry/exit points. According to experts, it is highly likely that a troublemaker may be able to circumvent some of these key security procedures at will and without much impediment.

Department of Homeland Security announced in June that it was implementing fresh measures to “address the potential insider threat” by authorizing employee background checks at U.S. airports at least twice a year. Security enhancements also included broadened screening for all items on “aircraft and airport assessments” alongside foreign countries.

Homeland Security Secretary Johnson sounded resoundingly optimistic about his assessment of the security situation in the country.

“I want people to know that their aviation security officials, working on their behalf, are continually evaluating threats, potential threats, and we make adjustments all the time based on what we see. This is why we determined to take precautionary interim steps. We believe it’s significant to do these things on an interim basis and to tell the public that we’ve done this.”

Meanwhile, airport security experts continue to express confidence in the many screening mechanisms instituted across most airports around the world, further underlining that these procedures may in fact have quite possibly averted countless potentially threatening scenarios in the past.

[Image Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]