How Safe Are Our Skies? Assessing the Airlines' Response to Terrorism

By Rodney Wallis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

Practical Airport Security

The events of September 11th questioned, as no other event ever could, the adequacy of airport security in North America. Two Presidential Commissions 10 had failed to raise security standards at U.S. airports. Throughout the tail-end years of the twentieth century, domestic aviation security performance in America was on a par with that of the poorest states in the developing world. During this period, the print and television media periodically investigated the level of U.S. airport security. In doing so, they were mirroring the actions of their counterparts in other countries. In the United Kingdom, the popular press and even the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), took it upon themselves to highlight weaknesses in airport defenses against terrorists. As 2001 came to an end, a British tabloid newspaper, the Sunday People, once again showed it was possible to carry weapons, albeit small, ingeniously designed ones, onboard aircraft at two of England’s premier airports. Their conduct came in for criticism from the administration and certainly their motives had to be questioned. Were they acting in the best interests of the traveling public by highlighting security failures, or were they simply playing to form, sensationalizing a situation to sell more copies? Were they experiencing a quiet news day that had to be enlivened?

Newspaper exposés such as those revealing security weaknesses

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