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Full Speed Hiring (but not so fast)!

Full Speed Hiring (but not so fast)!

Mike Causey | Federal News Radio

Before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, most U.S. airport security was aimed at making sure people didn’t bring guns on board or try to hijack aircraft to Cuba or Libya. These were serious concerns because they had happened before.

Editor’s Note: Mike’s column today is part of FederalNewsRadio’s special report, 5 Fallacies of Government? All this week we examine commonly held beliefs about the federal government and its employees. Click here for FederalNewsRadio’s full series coverage.

During that pre-attack period, a Washington TV station did a series about security at our own National Airport. The crew, led by a well-known and charming (aren’t they all) anchor, planned a feature on security: Passenger searches, electric fences, background checks of airport personnel, etc.

After a couple of visits by the TV crew (anchor, various horse-holders, camera and sound types,) the station’s producer asked security if it could streamline things for the TV station team. Cut some corners. After all they knew each other, and time is money in TV. Field crews are expensive.

The federal security types agreed as a courtesy (and also hoping the station’s gratitude would be reflected in its story). So they let the entire crew come and go without being patted down. Day after day. Cameras rolling. After all they were all pals, right? And they had passed an early, if cursory check. So…

What could possibly go wrong?

On the last day of filming one of the crew, maybe the dashing anchor himself, smuggled in a replica gun. I think it was a .357 magnum revolver which would look impressive on the nightly news. It did.

After filming themselves being passed through what was then nonsecurity, the crew caught on tape how “easy” it had been to smuggle a weapon (maybe a couple) past the “bumbling” federal security team. It was dynamite on the evening news.

The TV station had a field day. The airport security crew couldn’t get air time to explain what happened. I found out about it much later while doing a story on the airport.

Not fair, you say.

Well, yes and no!

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