NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — John F. Kennedy International Airport workers have been able to enter a restricted area of the airport without being checked.
CBS News obtained cellphone camera video showing workers over several days entering a restricted area at the airport by walking through a turnstile after scanning a security card and entering a PIN number. The workers’ identities were not verified and their bags were not checked.
“I’m horrified, but I’m not surprised,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told CBS News. “I think one of the main threats is employees of the airport getting on carrying contraband, possibly weapons. There you have the potential for disaster.”
After airport workers complete a background check and their names are run through criminal and terror databases, they are given key cards, which some workers call “the key to the city.”
A Homeland Security inspector general’s office report in 2015 found that the “TSA did not identify 73 individuals with terrorism-related category codes.”
In 2014, a Delta employee was able to smuggle more than 100 guns through Atlanta’s airport security and hand them off to a passenger who was heading to New York.
“That person went through a background check, but a year after they got hired they could be doing some nefarious acts. So there’s not a continuing screening process, so it’s not sufficient,” Marshall McClain, co-founder of the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers, told CBS News.
The Transportation Security Administration told CBS News that it screens 17 million airport workers and conducts more than 3,000 tests to reduce the insider threat.
This comes as Kelly Hoggan was removed from his post as the TSA’s top security official and replaced by a former federal security director in Los Angeles and New York, Darby LaJoye.
Hoggan’s ouster and a new management team in charge of screening operations at Chicago O’Hare International Airport were announced Monday after a series of Capitol Hill hearings focused on allegations of agency mismanagement and growing concerns about airport wait times.
The issue came to a head in recent weeks when thousands of passengers in Chicago missed flights because of lengthy wait times.
The House oversight committee said Hoggan received more than $90,000 in bonuses over a period from late 2013 to late 2014, despite growing concerns about the agency’s operations.
About a year later, a report from the Homeland Security Inspector General’s office revealed that agency employees failed to find explosives, weapons and other dangerous items in more than 95 percent of covert tests at multiple U.S. airports.
The TSA did not say where Hoggan has been reassigned.
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