ENG101.0807 Prof.:David Rimmer June 1, 2005 Security Methods in Airports since 9/11. (Revised) By Roberto Lam Since the attacks on September 11 the world has changed in many areas and

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ENG101.0807







Prof.:
David Rimmer

June 1, 2005


Security Methods in Airports since 9/11
.

(
Revised)






By Roberto Lam







Since the attacks on September 11 the world has changed in many areas and

mostly in the area where these

attacks first started,

the airports. The airports were places

where the terrorist began their “mission”. At
that time no one would imagine

that they
would use the planes as huge missiles.
Now,

knowing that terrorists could use anything to
achieve their “m
ission”,

new security

methods in airpo
rts have been established
, trying to
correct the weaknesses
in
some

of
the

areas that made
the attacks
possible. Some of
the
areas
that needed corrections
were access to airp
ort control,
screening performance

and
det
ection of dangerous

obj
ects.
T
hanks

to the new technology
in security methods
and
implementation of new procedures

in airports
,

future incidents of this nature should

be
detected
faster
in airports and many other areas where terrorist might have acce
ss.


Most people might ask ho
w
terrorists could do

what they did on September 11,
and the answer is the weakness on airport security before this tragic day.
The
weakest
point might be
the
access
control in airport. A testing
performed

in 1998

and 1999,
whose
objective was to determin
e if security could be breached
,

shows

that

special agents
were
able to gain access to secure areas and
were able to

board
the
aircraft 117 times
, or 68%
of all attempts
.

This was conducted at eight (8) different major airports.

In addition to
this,

a repo
rt in May 2000

states that special agents used fake badges and credentials to
gain access to secure areas at two airports. They passed security checkpoints and walked
to the aircraft departure gates. These agents could have carried dangerous items, such as

explosive
s

and weapons onto the aircraft. (
Dillingham
2
)


Two other weaknesses on airport security before 9/11 were the
poor
per
formance
of screeners that lead

to the

inadequate detection of
dangerous objects.
A
report in June
2
000

shows that in 1987 screeners missed 20 percent of the potentially dangerous objects
used in a test by the

Federal Aviation Administratio
n.
“Each year, weapons were
discovered to have passed through one checkpoint an
d have later been found during
screening for a subsequent flight…This shows that screeners without the necessary
aptitudes or the adequate knowledge to effectively perform the work are being placed on
this kind of jobs” (
Dillingham
2
).
In addition
,
as it is stated on the book Introduction to
Homeland Security:

“on September 11,
(only)
about 5 percent of all checked luggage was
screen
ed for
explosives.”
(Bullock 149)


Looking at these fatal
failin
gs

on airport security, improvement
in these weak
areas has been established. First
,
the access to secure areas
has been improved by the
FAA in requiring that “each airport’s law enforcement officers examine the badges and
credentials of any individual see
king to bypass passenger screening.” In addition to this,
the FAA is working on a “smart card” computer system which will verify the identity of
offices and authorization for bypassing passenger screening.

(
Dillingham
5
). Moreover,

a
CNN report states that

“San Jose (International Airport) has begun a new fingerprinting
system and ten
-
year background checks for employees” (
Airport Security
).
These
improvements prevent the access of people with false
identifications;

since a revalidation
is now required to access the secure areas

and comparison of people with airport ID with
the FBI watch’s list

(a list of the most wante
d people by the FBI)
is also required

(Mead

1
)
.


Secondly, many improvement and programs of screening and identifying threat
objects are in process in major airports.

According to a report, to improve screeners’
performance, the FAA
has been implementing t
he Threat Image Projection (TIP) systems
and a certification program to show the training and performance of each screener to the
companies who employ them. The TIP systems are used to alert screeners by placing
images of dangerous objects on the monitors
of X
-

ray machines. Also, they are used to
measure and improve the screener performance in detecting threat objects. (
Dillingham
)


Besides this
,
a “continual use of bulk explosive detection systems for screening
passengers’ checked baggage is required” (
Mead

)

To illustrate this, here is an example of an experience by Joe Vans Os. After he checked
in, the officers informed him that the computer had selected his checked baggage to be
scanned
by the “full CTX 5500 explosive
-
detection X
-
ray scan”. After this, they directed
him to meet TEDD (Trace Explosives Detection Device
) which is a machine that
evaluates a cotton swab which has been rubbed over an item. This procedure is to detect
explosives

in electronic devices and their carrying cases. (
Os

)
. Additionally, “the number
of canine teams for explosives detection has doubled to 291 at 64 of the nation’s largest
airpor
ts.”(
Bullock 149
).

According to an article, some other security measures
such as checking
passengers’ shoes and random checks of passengers at the gate, which seems as a waste
of time for many passengers, are useful for preventing possible terrorist attack
s. Because,
Richard Reid, the al Qaeda terrorist who failed trying to
light a fuse on his shoe,
demons
trated that these

kind of people can use anything to achieve their purpose; now
,
officers will use the TEDD to detect residue from explosives on the shoes

or in it.
Furthermore, there are two main reasons why passengers are required to be checked at
the gate. First, “the random check will serve as checks on the efficiency of the checkers
in finding illegal materials. And the second reason is to overcome the

public mania about
ethnic profiling”.
The

author

Muller explained
that in every flight
whenever there was
someone who matched the appearance of a potential terrorist will be checked and he/she
will be diverted as a “random” check. (
Miller
1
)

As a matter o
f fact, “today 100 percent of all checked luggage is screened for
explosives…more than 8.1 million prohibited items at checkpoints were intercepted since
February 2002…more than 2.4 million knives and 1498 firearms and 51,408 box cutters
were among items i
ntercepted. And in August alone, 602,913 prohibited items were
intercepted”. (
Bullock 149
)

Moreover,

several
new
security and protection
programs have also been
implemented. The Known Shipper Program and the Federal Air Marshall Program are
two of them. Th
e first one allows carriers only to accept cargo from approved shippers or
forwarders who are regular customers and familiar to the carrier.

The second program
consists on “deploying thousands of air marshals to fly on tens of thousands of flights
each mon
th on a wide variety of routes and aircraft.” This people will be specially trained
and carry guns defending the cockpit

(Bullock 149
)
.

Beyond the improvement on the security areas and programs implementation, the
use of biometrics would be the new steps i
n airport security. As stated in CNET.news,
biometrics is the digital analysis using cameras or scanners of biological characteristics
such as facial structure, fingerprints and iris patterns to match profiles to databases of
people such as suspected terro
rist. In effect, “
The French Civil Aviation Authority
began
a
six
-
month analysis of fingerprint, iris, and facial
-
recognition data

on October 2004
; the
objective

was to

decide which biomet
ric technology is most reliable” (
Greenemeier 1).
Additionally, some

experts say (3
-
D) face recognition is perhaps the most consistent
biometric technique for overcrowded airports because it depends on distant cameras to
identify people and doesn’t require people touching or standing in front of devices such
as fingerprint

scanners (Konrad 2).

Furthermore,
the most significant attributes of 3
-
D facial
-
recognition technology
are speed and accuracy.

The data

is obtained by using a number of digital cameras and
later is stored in a back
-
end database, where it can be retrieved
and compared against
other facial images. Not only in Europe, but also the U.S. government is testing 3
-
D
facial recognition technology which hopes that by the middle of 2005 it will be able to
take 3
-
D images of people moving into and out of the United St
ates, and check those
images against a database of 3
-
D mug shots.

(Greenemeier 2)

In addition, the Homeland Security Department in October, 2004, implemented its
first biometric facial recognition standard
, which supports visual human
-
facial
comparison and

computer automated comparisons for watch
-
list (list of most wanted
people) checks and for computer identification and verification. The standard is expected
to make easier the interchange of photographs across systems and assist in the future
development
of interoperable biometric applications.
(Greenemeier 2)

However,
it is true that these security methods (biometrics)

would be more
reliable than the methods fist mentioned in this paper but
how well airlines and airports
are going to
protect employee and
passenger data collected for these programs. This is
why France's privacy commission,
Commission Nationale de l'informatique et des
Libertés
, is cautious of government agencies or commercial entities using data collected
at airports for their own
purposes

(
Greenemeier 2).
And perhaps, the Homeland Security
Department should care about this in the near future along with its new biometrical facial
recognition standard
.

To put it briefly, when reviewing the information, I found that there was a
considerable we
akness in the airport security before the September 11 att
acks;
weaknesses seen mainly in the access to secure areas and inadequate screening.
It is true
that a vast improvement on airport secur
ity and programs
including the implementation
of new biometric
s methods,

has

taken place
, but this
was

after this terrible day. This
demonstrates that terrorism can take place anywhere at any time if nations don’t develop
and
keep improving their security systems,

hopefully

it would not take
another terrorist
attack
to do so.

Nowadays, for most people who travel, these changes in security will affect them
with delays and inconveniences, especially when it comes to passenger screening. As
CNN reporters said in an article: “but most visible of all have been longer line
s that have
come with more intense passenger screening, more body searches and more random bag
searches.” (
Boulden
)

But after all,
as we see on these days, with the new technology involved and the day after
day improvement in airport security, we
hope that

these will be the first steps to fight and
prevent terrori
sm i
n airports.


Works Cited




“Airport Security.” ABC7 News Top Stories.
27 Feb.
, 2002. 11May, 2005
<
http://abclocal.go
.com/kgo/news/022702_iteam_back_door.html
>




Boulden, Jim. “
Air security to get even tighter.”
CNN.com

10 September, 2002.
11 May, 2005.
<
http://archives.cnn.com/2002/W
ORLD/europe/09/10/ar911.airport.security/
>




Bullock, Jane A. et al.
Introduction to Homeland Security.

Miami: Elsevier Inc,
2005.




Dillingham, Gerald L. “Weaknesses in Airport Security and Options for
Assigning Screening Responsibilities.”
The Governme
nt Accountability Office.

21 Sept., 2001. 11 May, 2005 <
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d011165t.pdf
>




Greenemeier,

Larry. “
Airport Biometrics Preparing To Take Flight In France.”

InformationWeek

29 D
ecember, 2004. 30 May, 2005
<http://informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=56700169>




Konrad,
Rachel. “
Biometrics may scan air travelers.”
CNET News.com

27
March, 2002.
11 May, 2005 <
http://news.com.com/2100
-
1017
-
869622.html
>




Mead, Kenneth M. “TESTIMONY.”
senate.gov
11 May, 2005.
<
http://www.senate.gov/~gov_affairs/111401mead.htm
>




Muller, Richard A.
muller.lbl.go
v

9 August, 2002. 11 May, 2005
<
http://muller.lbl.gov/TRessays/07_Airport_Insecurity.htm
>




Os, Joe V.
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc
. 2005
.
11 May, 2005
<
http://www.photosafaris.com/Articles/FlyingWithPhotoGear.asp
>