USA & Global: Terror fears raise scrutiny of air safety lapses.

Plenty of concerns about potential gaps in aviation security remain. The TSA is still trying to improve the performance of its screening process, which according to one audit failed to find 96 percent of mock weapons or explosives sent through airport checkpoints. And the security community is taking a closer look at workers who have access to planes, especially for international flights headed to the U.S., House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul said in an interview.

“You can have the best technology to screen. But if you have someone corrupted or radicalized or compromised, it’s hard to stop that,” McCaul said. “They need to vet those employees better at those last points of departure. We’ve got to stop them from being compromised.”

Foreign air hubs aren’t the only security worry. Over the last year, security screeners and airport employees from several U.S. cities have been arrested on charges of helping smuggle guns and drugs aboard planes. Three screeners at San Francisco International were charged this month with assisting drug smugglers in getting cocaine past airport checkpoints. Federal agents announced in July that they had uncovered a similar operation at Dallas-Fort Worth International that involved the shipment of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. In May, prosecutors divulged that baggage handlers at Oakland International had been accused of sneaking marijuana through security checkpoints. And the feds charged in December that four men had exploited special airline worker access to run a massive gun-smuggling operation between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and John F. Kennedy International.

“The threat is real from both a screening standpoint and the employee standpoint at airports,” Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) said during a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing this month. “It’s a systemic problem that we must deal with head on, or it will only be a matter of time before we hear a story about a screener or aviation worker in the United States intentionally allowing explosives or weapons to pass through security checkpoints.”

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Source: Politico.

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