Tags: Airport | Baggage | Scanners | Flawed

Airport Baggage Scanners Flawed

Thursday, 28 February 2002 12:00 AM

A supervisor of the Federal Aviation Administration security team told the newspaper that it was embarrassingly easy to get past the devices, scheduled to become a key line of defense against terrorist bombs being smuggled aboard airliners.

"We were extraordinarily successful in mock-destroying aircraft and killing large numbers of innocent people in ... simulated attacks," said Bogdan Dzakovic, a supervisor with the newly created Transportation Security Administration. "This occurred with such regularity and ease as to present a frightening picture of the sorry state of aviation security on a worldwide basis."

Dzakovic, a frequent critic of commercial air security, supervised the FAA "red team" that was formed in 1999 to aggressively probe airport security in search of gaps that could be exploited by a terrorist. Despite some reorganization and a new commitment to security, Dzakovic warned that many of the old problems existed.

"It's a big mistake how they are doing it," he told the Times.

The scanners operate in the same way that a CT scan creates 3-D images of the internal organs of the human body. It allows the operators of the car-sized machines to get a fairly detailed look at the contents of suitcases passing through on the way to their flights.

There are around 200 such scanners in use in airport terminals around the country, and the federal government plans to deploy nearly 3,000 more at a cost of $2.5 billion.

Dzakovic had his doubts about the scanners early, however, based on the experiences of his red team. Initial results of unannounced tests were so discouraging that FAA supervisors decided to announce to airport officials beforehand that a test would be conducted.

"My next two trips to test security under these conditions resulted in 100 percent detection," Dzakovic said. "I stopped making notifications after this, and our testing results returned to their normal low levels."

The Times said it was not clear if the problems were the fault of the equipment or if the operators were simply not savvy enough to spot the mock explosives in the steady stream of baggage; the actual detection statistics remain classified.

The FAA maintained that U.S. airport security had been tightened substantially after Sept. 11. "Our current system is not the subject of these allegations," said spokesman Chet Lunner. "We are confident that the system we have now in place is an improvement."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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A supervisor of the Federal Aviation Administration security team told the newspaper that it was embarrassingly easy to get past the devices, scheduled to become a key line of defense against terrorist bombs being smuggled aboard airliners. We were extraordinarily...
Airport,Baggage,Scanners,Flawed
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2002-00-28
Thursday, 28 February 2002 12:00 AM
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