Airport security screening has been the most discussed media issue since 9/11 and every time security forces find a threat, like a bomb made from liquid in carry on baggage, restrictions on luggage and the number of screening devices has increased DRAMATICALLY. No one should argue the importance of security screening. It is an important issue that has been at the forefront of national security for years now and there have been multiple botched attempts of aviation terror incidents publicly recorded.
However making sure the wrong people don’t bring the wrong things on planes isn’t the biggest problem in avoiding terror incidents on airplanes and in airports. There are 3 groups of people here, the people being screened, the people doing the screening and the people working at the airport. The very important question that no one has yet to ask is, which side is a greater threat to national security and why?
I personally asked a number of leading companies who produce and install myriads of screening equipment in airports around the world during an International Aviation Security Technology Symposium: Can a person operating screening equipment, not by mistake or being just overwhelmed, allow illegal items through intentionally? The answer, unequivocally, was YES. An operator can let through anything he wants. It is established that security equipment at airports work quite well but the weakest link of airport security are the people working there.
Let’s investigate the security issue of airport personnel. The number of employees from airport to airport ranges from 5,000 to over 100,000 employees and though the TSA in its Privacy Impact Assessment for the Security Threat Assessment for Airport Badge and Credential Holders explains that they are actually supposed to check individuals for criminal history, we know that threats don’t just come from people with previous criminal records. In addition what about temporary employees and subcontractors? There are a LARGE number of instances of hiring illegal workers and fraudulently obtaining airport security badges for them. On one hand we are all witness to long lines, restrictions, paying additional fees to screen each and every traveller to increase our security, but on the other hand we do not know that the airports temporary, full time employees and contractors quite often have unrestricted access to secure areas without proper security clearances.
We need to admit that government agencies are doing everything they can, using an antiquated approach to security clearances, considering they have thousands of airports and tens of thousands of employees per airport to clear. Maybe it is time to start looking “outside the box” at a technology that can actually perform the required security clearances of millions of people. For example, Subconscious Semantic Response Measurement technology can provide reliable information within 10 to 30 minutes about involvement in the illegal activities of any person being screened. And as most airport employees have nothing to do with illegal activities it would be both easy and fast to obtain security clearance and keep dishonest employees out.
A post secondary education is not required to work as a TSA screening agent. The starting salary for a TSO is $24,432 to $36,648 per year. For the most part we have very minimum educated, very low paid people doing all of the security clearance work of every passenger, and every airport all over the country. We have passengers and screeners. Which side sounds like the weakest link now? Before you answer that I would like you to read a short article about Israeli airport security. How a nation, that has been at war for over 50 years with every single one of its neighboring countries, has never experienced a single problem in their airports and why!
Now knowing what you do it should be clear what the real solution is to support strong airport screening procedures without violating people’s basic rights or dignities. Screening is an absolute must however it starts with the people who do the screening. SSRM technology can screen the tens of thousands of TSA and airport employees and subcontractors quickly and efficiently making sure that the people whose job it is to protect our wellbeing are properly doing so together with other airport employees and subcontractors.