The authorities say that on Dec. 10, while 1.7 million other passengers were being routinely screened for weapons at security checkpoints in airports around the country, a man carrying a backpack containing 16 firearms with ammunition flew aboard a Delta Air Lines passenger jet to Kennedy International Airport in New York from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The suspect was arrested in New York that day after a monthslong investigation into gun smuggling to New York from Atlanta.
“What we have in this case is an egregious breach of security down in that airport” in Atlanta, the Brooklyn district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson, said at a news conference last week to announce extensive charges. At the center of the case is a former Delta Air Lines worker charged with smuggling 153 firearms, including an AK-47 assault weapon, on 17 Delta flights between Atlanta and New York from May 8 to Dec. 10.
After passing through the regular airport security checkpoints, the suspect received the guns from an accomplice, a Delta baggage handler who had easy access to secure areas of the airport and was able to carry firearms into the terminal, Mr. Thompson said.
“My jaw dropped on this one,” said Anthony C. Roman, a security consultant. “It strips away the security facade that’s been in place since 2002 and painfully exposes the major deficiencies that many security professionals have been trying to bring to the forefront since 9/11,” he said. He and others have been concerned that workers with access to secure airport areas are not as closely screened as passengers are at the checkpoints.
Since 2001, all sorts of security experts have been warning that the weak link is the cargo handlers and others with access to the plane. Yet nothing has been done. A cynic would argue that there probably isn’t that much money to be made in securing the plane relatively to building expensive devices to scan millions of passengers.
That would impugn the patriotism of our security privatizers, so that can’t be a possible reason.
Enjoy your next flight!