Security at Dulles Failing
Drummond, Daniel B., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Byline: Daniel B. Drummond
Regional members of Congress say results from a recent federal investigation of security screeners at Washington Dulles International Airport show that current security procedures are failing the travelling public.
"Its unacceptable and the system is broken, clearly," said Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican. "The current system is so flawed that you federalize it, you professionalize it, and do security checks in a professional way."
Over the weekend, investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that seven out of 20 security screeners at Dulles - or about 35 percent - failed a pop quiz testing their knowledge of basic security procedures.
Currently, security screeners are only required to go through 12 hours of training, pass a written test, and be retested on an annual basis. Those seven persons who failed the test over the weekend were removed from their positions, the OIG said.
The FAA is also performing background-check audits at 20 major airports, including Dulles, on security screeners employed since December 2000, when stricter regulations were put in place.
The audits are being done first at airports where Atlanta-based Argenbright Security Inc., which is under Justice Department scrutiny for failing to follow FAA guidelines and hiring known criminals, operates. Argenbright was ordered to pay $1.5 million in fines and restitution in October 2000 for giving false statements to the FAA, as well as not following federal aviation-security guidelines.
Yesterday, the FAA also ordered criminal background checks be done on up to 1 million airline and airport security workers.
Argenbright provides security at both Dulles and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
In a statement, Bill Barbour, the president and CEO of Argenbright, said the preliminary findings by the OIG are typical of ongoing reviews and shows that "in the majority of cases, we have complied with aviation-security regulations."
Mr. Barbour said that it is because of the increased scrutiny on airline security in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks that federal authorities "are taking the unusual step of publishing their preliminary findings."
During the weekend spot-checks at Dulles, investigators working for the OIG arrested Thomas Brown of Herndon after he purportedly passed through a security checkpoint with a concealed pocketknife. Mr. Brown has been charged with attempting to board an aircraft with a concealed weapon, a felony. He has been detained and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. …