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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Thursday, March 01, 2012

PERIMETER SECURITY: WEAKEST LINK IN AIRPORT SAFETY

 
Washington, DC – Below is Rep. Bill Keating’s statement in response to today’s security breach at Philadelphia International Airport.

"The unfortunate truth is that today’s dangerous perimeter breach at Philadelphia International Airport, where a driver accelerated through an unmanned gate and drove onto airport property as a plane was taking off, is just one in a series of breaches that take place within the security perimeters of our nation’s airports.  As Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management, I have been calling for a more comprehensive approach to airport perimeter security because there remains uneven enforcement from locality to locality.

 
"Following today’s incident, I asked the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for details of the breach.  Yet, the TSA simply referred me to local authorities, just as they had done in November of 2010 when I took on the case of 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale as the Norfolk County District Attorney.  After breaching the perimeter of Charlotte-Douglas airport, Mr. Tisdale gained access to an aircraft by climbing into its wheel well and subsequently fell to his death as the plane made its final approach into Boston Logan International Airport (Logan).  As the then-District Attorney investigating the Tisdale case, I was alarmed by the information I learned about the perimeter security of some of our nation’s busiest airports.
 
"What I’ve learned since taking on this fight in Congress is even more alarming.  In the last decade, there have been over 1300 known breaches to our airports’ perimeter security throughout the country.  In September 2011, the Homeland Security Committee heard testimony from Mr. Lee Hamilton, the former vice chair of the 9/11 Commission and current member of the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security, Governor Thomas Ridge. They both cited perimeter security as an overlooked yet incredibly important security issue that continues to exist – long after the 9/11 attacks – at airports throughout the United States.
 
"Since then, I have held a field hearing at Logan Airport on this matter and proposed legislation that seeks to protect US travelers from threats resulting from airport perimeter breaches.  The legislation requires TSA to map out a plan to conduct security vulnerability assessments at all airports throughout the United States.  Currently, 17% of this country’s 450 commercial airports are evaluated by TSA on a consistent basis; 83%, however, are not.  That number is startling.  I will continue to push TSA officials who are responsible for our nation’s safety to take their responsibility seriously and to recognize what history has shown us:  one unsafe airport compromises every airport in the country.
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Rep. Keating, who is the Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management, has been the leading voice on airport perimeter security reform, recently having held a Congressional hearing and introducing legislation on the issue.