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PART TWO: PREVIOUS WARNINGS
Watchdog repeatedly warned Congress

From Mike Fish
CNN.com

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Congress can't say it was not warned.

Its investigative arm, the General Accounting Office, spelled out the shortcomings of airline security for lawmakers in at least five reports since 1998.

The Federal Aviation Administration was portrayed as lax in policing airport security, as well as with being nearly two-and-a-half years late in implementing a legally required system to certify screeners.

Airport security was frequently depicted in the reports as inadequate, with screeners often unable to detect weapons planted in routine tests of the system.

THE SYSTEM
Airport security: A system driven by the minimum wage
PREVIOUS WARNINGS
Warnings over airport security preceded attacks
COMPARING U.S. TO EUROPE
Outside the U.S., a different approach to air security
SOLUTIONS
Boosting airport security likely to focus on role of government
 GRAPHS & CHARTS
 • Top 25 Airports

 • Airport Security by Year

 • Airline Security by Year

 • Airport Wages

"If you are running a test and there are objects that have been agreed upon as test objects by the airlines, the security companies know what these objects look like, and the scores are still low -- well, that is of some concern,'' said Gerald Dillingham, GAO associate director. "The information we have is that the closer it gets to look like something that is real the less likely they are to find it.''

That's why, in the wake of the September 11 hijackings, Dillingham advised two congressional committees to reconsider whether the airlines should continue to be responsible for security screening at the nation's airports.

"All the evidence suggests that there are large gaps in the security, just like we have been saying,'' Dillingham said. "There is concern about security once people get to the airport proper. Well, before that, there certainly needs to be more intelligence shared among the stakeholders, so that you are not at a point of trying to stop a hijacker from kicking down the cockpit door. It is probably too late by then.

"But the big gaps are, of course, the security screeners and also access to secure areas in the airport -- including the ramp and the ability to board aircraft unescorted or using improper identification.''



 
 
 
 


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