Democratic Lawmakers Admonish TSA

Thursday, 07 January 2010

Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) Wednesday criticized the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for failing to turn on security cameras that could have captured a security incident at Newark International Airport Jan. 3.

Authorities shut down a terminal at the airport when a man crossed a security checkpoint going the wrong way. The congressmen indicated that a review of the situation determined that the port authority had cameras at the exit point where the man crossed but that the cameras were not recording. The man remains unidentified due to the camera failure.

"Although an investigation is still underway, it appears that the incident at the Newark Airport is an astonishing example of a shared security lapse. In the wake of the Christmas Day terror plot, more vigilance was required throughout the aviation system. Instead, the security partnership between TSA and the airport authority failed," Thompson said in a statement Wednesday.

Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called on TSA to improve security at checkpoints and deploy cameras and other technology that actually work. He blamed the port authority for leaving inoperable cameras in the airport.

Pascrell, who represents the state where the incident occurred, invoked the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in slamming the lax security at the airport.

"It has been more than eight years since hijackers slipped through Newark International Airport's security checkpoint, boarded Flight 93 and made it one of four ill-fated airliners involved in the deadly terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," Pascrell said in a statement. "Yet, over the weekend, we learned that at the very same airport, another security breach was able to occur."

Pascrell protested that too many investigations of simple lapses in aviation security had been uncovered since 9/11 to excuse the inoperable cameras.

"We need a full investigation and recognition that TSA staffing levels at Newark must be bolstered for the size and significance of the airport. Strong consideration must also be given to implementing a camera system that is monitored and recording at all times," he declared.

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