Witnesses blast Massport, FAA at Carter Commission hearing
By Leslie Miller
BOSTON (AP) A former training instructor and security checkpoint supervisor at Logan Airport told a commission studying the Massachusetts Port Authority that private airport security companies can't do their jobs because the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration won't let them.
Michael Moran said he'd complained about routine violations of security regulations to the FAA, only to meet with indifference.
''Every time I talked to the FAA, whether in Boston or Washington, and I've done both, these people basically say, 'OK, yeah, we'll take care of it,' and then they call my company and they say, 'Why is your screener coming to us?'' Moran said.
Well, that's typical. Instead of addressing the problem, they try to sweep it under the rug. If something bad does happen do they take any responsiblilty at all for the fact that problems were brought to their attention and they did nothing about them? No, they do what's easy for them. They blame the airlines.
Marshall Carter, who heads the six-member commission, chaired a public hearing Thursday on the state agency that oversees Logan. The Carter Commission was appointed by acting Gov. Jane Swift to conduct a top-to-bottom review of Massport after terrorists hijacked two planes from Logan and crashed them into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. It is to make recommendations by Dec. 3.
Carter said the FAA's dual mission of regulating airlines and promoting air travel creates an inherent conflict. He advocates making checkpoint screeners federal employees.
Sorry, but I have to disagree. If the federal government can't even oversee security screening effectively, why should I have confidence in their ability to actually do the screening?
House and Senate negotiators tentatively agreed Thursday to put all airport baggage screeners on the federal payroll under the supervision of the Department of Transportation.
''What I want to do is get out of FAA,'' Carter said. ''The FAA has a long record of performance failure to make sure the standards were there.''
Sheila Widnall, former Secretary of the Air Force and a commission member, said the FAA wasn't entirely at fault for failing to enforce security regulations.
"The FAA has been so politicized by people doing end runs around them,'' she said.
That's called "passing the buck" Yes, they are responsible. All the "regulations" are totally worthless if they're not going to be ENFORCED. And I'm not talking about a few fines or being put on probation. I'm talking about these security firms having their operating licenses yanked so that the airlines are FORCED to change security companies if the ones they are using are not meeting federal standards.
Remember what happened after the Valujet crash in the Everglades? The government didn't just fine Valujet or put them "on probation", They shut them down.
Remember when AA 191 lost an engine at ORD? The government didn't make "recommendations" to the airlines who were operating the DC-10 to check out the engine pylons. They grounded the planes until the problems were fixed.
If homeland security is so important, (which it is, IMHO) why is the government not taking similar actions with regard to the security firms? If the federal government is the one making the regulations, then it should be the federal government who enforces those regulations, not the airlines.
When the airlines don't meet federal safety standards with regards to maintainence, the federal government doesn't turn around and blame the passengers for flying that airline. But when the security firms don't meet federal standards, the federal government will turn around and blame the airlines for hiring them.
The prospect of an aviation security law being passed by Congress will make the commission's job easier, Carter said. A large part of the commission's recommendation will deal with security, he said.
Carter said he was disappointed that airline representatives did not choose to attend the Boston hearing.
I, too, am disappointed that the airlines chose not to attend. Security affects their industry and they should have been there to provide their input and give their point of view.
Moran said he decided to testify because it bothered him to see what's been going on since Sept. 11.
At Logan on Tuesday, an Argenbright Security employee left an exit door unattended for four minutes at a Delta Airlines concourse on Tuesday.
Moran said he'd monitored a baggage screening machine for an hour and 45 minutes, though regulations limit security employees to 40 minutes.
Though law enforcement officers are supposed to respond to screeners' silent alarms within five minutes, Moran said state troopers at Massport often took 15 to 20 minutes to respond and sometimes as long as a half hour.
And yet, there are those on this board who continually scream "Fire the burger flippers and put some "real" law enforcemement in there to get the job done." If the state troopers are taking that long to respond to a possible emergency, they're no better than the burger flippers.
Moran, who now works for Longwood Security, said he was employed by Atlanta-based Argenbright Security Inc. for several years and for Globe Security for a week-and-a-half after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks until he resigned.
The commission also heard from a half-dozen opponents of a proposed new runway who criticized Massport for refusing to be accountable to communities affected by the noise and pollution from the airport.
''They have to go a long way to build community relations,'' Widnall said.
Yeah, typical of the NIMBY's always having to throw in their 2 cents worth even if it has nothing to do with the issue at hand, but I'll save the rest of my thoughts about them for another thread.
Carter said the panel will hammer out a dozen final recommendations over the next few days and will give them to Swift before making them public. The commission's deadline is Dec. 3.
Would anyone like to bet that the December 3rd deadline will not be met? When has federal, state or local government ever accomplished anything on time?
Carter said that he estimates Massport will need about $20 million to enhance security along with $20 million it already has set aside.
I'm sure that the extra fees we wil probably have to pay for "enhanced" security will also be "set aside" until they can agree on a plan and God only knows how many years that will take
'We will promise changes,'' Carter said, adding he was very confident Swift would implement them.
Oh I'm sure they'll promise changes, but the real question is, will they deliver on those promises, and if they do will the proposed changes really be more effective? I won't hold my breath.